Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Oh golly - events and activities in abundance

I've so had my head stuck in an orienteering flag these past two weeks!

Some events I'm involved in whole-heartedly, like my new Checkpoint Challenge Schools League, which I hope will become a super-fabulous schools league template for us and other countries. This has been a big learning curve already and it hasn't even started. I'm still a little involved with the long-running Orienteering Schools League.
Other events I am involved somewhat, like our AR Club Summer Series events (three Wednesday evenings starting next week).

And yet others I have peripheral involvement (PR, design, media, public liaison), like the orienteering Urban Series, which kicks off on Sunday with the first of the 10 events.

With two websites (that's five separate pages that need updating and maintaining), various Mailchimp lists for comms, four-plus FB pages, twitter account and a host of media (website, magz, event listing sites)... I totally see why I feel a bit all over the place!

There are so many really good events happening and the best thing about orienteering events, especially, is that they're family friendly. In this community there's no such thing as too young or too old.

Monday, January 12, 2015

More Summer Series events

My club, Adventure Racing Club, has three weekly Summer Series events coming up; the first on Wednesday 28 January 2015.

I organise these events with friend and club-mate Garry.

These are really fun one-hour events that take in the beauty of Delta Park, a wonderful open parkland expanse in the middle of Johannesburg.

Although we often vary the format of each of the weekly events, the general idea is that you get a map at the start and on the map a bunch of checkpoints are marked. You either have to locate all of them or a defined number of checkpoints (in any order) within the one-hour time.

What this means is that people run like crazy chickens all over the part, each person choosing their own route and which checkpoints they want to visit in any order. Navigation is pretty easy so no special skills are needed.

This is a family-friendly event and I look forward to seeing more children (they get free entry!) and newcomer adults at the events.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Not training to be skinny

With the Ultra Trail Mount Moodie 80km event coming up at the end of January my training has been pretty reasonable. Not phenomenal... but then I've never been into mega distance in training. I've had a good and steady and consistent November and December and I'm feeling good and running comfortably.

Two weeks ago, just before New Year, it was cooking hot one afternoon when I went out running with my regular weekly running buddy Jason. I've got two regular running buddies - Jason and Rob (different days). Rob has been out for a few weeks with a broken big toe (ow!). Jason and I ended up doing more of a run-walk (perhaps more walk than run) in the heat, which he doesn't favour much.

With an early dinner invitation from my uncle that evening and with a need for more, more, more running, I decided to run to my uncle's house, which is pretty much bang on 11 kilometres from me.

At 15h30, about half an hour after getting back from my outing with Jason, it was still cooking but I figured that I could do with some training in the heat, which I don't mind at all. The ultra, which starts on Long Tom Pass and cruises around the Sabie area, is sure to be hot and humid.

I donned my hydration pack and set off for my uncle's house at a comfortable pace despite the heat. n A cool shower, tasty dinner and warm company made the run even more memorable.

This was one of those occasions where a 'runner's high' was inevitable. For me, there's something appealing about running from one place to another - not just a loop route, which is what I most often run from home.

I'm out in Parys again and tomorrow (Sunday) I've got my eye on a big loop (this one is all tar), which I've wanted to run for weeks. Now is a good time for it. I'm hoping that it will be close to 20km. It should be hard work (rolling terrain, hot conditions and some of the day spent kayaking - if the weather holds) but I'm looking forward to it.


This parkrun thing

If you haven't heard of parkrun, you've probably been under a rock. In short, these are free, five-kilometre runs every Saturday morning at venues (usually parks or park-like properties) around the World. There are 46 parkrun locations in South Africa and new venues open regularly.

I ran my first parkrun at Delta Park in February 2013 - this was before the participant numbers were crazy high like they are now. I'm under correction but I think that Delta was the first parkrun in South Africa, opened by Bruce Fordyce who brought the parkrun concept (started in the UK) to SA.

It took me just over a year until I did my next one, at the Woodlands Office Park. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy the experience, but without a parkrun down the road from home, I wasn't keen to get up early and drive 20-30 minutes to a venue - just for five kilometres...

As I recall my mom was keen to walk a parkrun and we're good friends with the Woodlands course director, Staci. That was in April last year. And then the Modderfontein one had opened, which is closer to home and I did it with a friend in May last year. And then another Woodlands one in August.

I've been hanging out in Parys quite a bit on weekends and so I was delighted when a parkrun started in Parys at the beginning of November.

Compared to Jo'burg parkruns, Parys is small - but very friendly. There are usually around 65 runners including a good number of children.
I wasn't there for that inaugural running but I was there later that month. I bagged two Parys parkruns in November and one in December, along with an inaugural parkrun at the Pretoria Botanical Gardens, where I walked with my running buddy who did it on crutches.

I've been consistently bettering my times at the Parys parkrun. At the end of December I took almost a minute off my time from a month before; last weekend I bettered my time by a few seconds again.

Charging into the finish at the Parys parkrun on 3 January 2015. It was hot already for the 08h00 start.
 This morning at Woodlands I ran almost two minutes faster than I did in August.

And this, for me, is the appeal of parkrun. Short and punchy, I'm using them as a time trial for a high intensity weekly run. In Parys, I run to the start, which is a few minutes away - very, very convenient. I have friends that I enjoy seeing at Woodlands and I'm making friends in Parys with other regular parkrunners and seeing a few people I know at the runs too.

I also get a total kick out of receiving my results on email later the same day. This morning, for example, I was 33rd out of 416 runners, 6th lady and 1st in my age category. Having a dash of a competitive streak, I just want to keep bettering my times and positions. They're all listed on the parkrun website so I can keep an eye on how I'm doing. It's addictive!

This morning was my 10th parkrun... six of them run only since late November. And that's another thing too. I can totally see the appeal of collecting parkruns. Venues, inaugural runs, number of runs...

At FEAT in October Tracy Rankin spoke about what parkrun means to her. She's South Africa's most parkrun runner. Lovely talk. I've included it below.

Check out the parkrun website for event venues and join one close to you (remember to register on the website first to get you barcode). If there isn't one, consider starting one (contact Bruce through the website). All you need is a nice area and a five-kilometre route. parkruns are volunteer run and while the original director will have their hands full for a few weeks, with time you'll recruit other volunteers to share the load.