The Circle of Running Life

Perhaps I can be accused of having a starry-eyed love affair with road running, the mistress in my life. It is not dissimilar from the love of a soul mate, the love of one’s very being, that passion which evolves over the years until one attains that pinnacle of that love. In the case of road running, this peak is the Around the World Challenge [RTW Challenge].

Why is this so?

Main picture: Eleven of the thirteen finishers of the Around the World Challenge as at June 2017. Back row: Des Robbins, Paul Selby, Dean McCleland, Peter Darroll. Middle row: Lesley Vermeulen, Ric Marini, Sue Darroll, Frik di Preez. Front row: Kosie van Vuuren, Neels Vermeulen

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The Phone Call in the Middle of the Night

In reading Helen Zille’s excellent autobiography, she narrates the incident in which she received a phone call in the middle of the night alleging that her spouse was involved in infidelity.  This despicable practice is used as a ploy to intimidate or to extract revenge. 

As I have experienced a similar incident some 20 years ago, there were uncomfortable parallels in my mind. Fortunately, in both cases, no lasting recriminations or suspicions were aroused or damage inflicted on the relationship. Yet it did cast some momentary doubts on the affected spouse in both cases. 

Main picture: Helen Zille, Premier of the Western Cape

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Report back on the Suikerboschfontein Hike in October 2016

The simple hiking hut eponymously called Oom Japie se Huis was probably originally the living quarters of one of Dr Okie van Niekerk’s ancestors, all of whom have resided on this huge plot since 1911. 

It overlooks various streams that ultimately flow into the Komati River. Being on the escarpment, it is more Highveld than Lowveld. At this time of the year, the brown grassland is crying out in its anguished thirst, tortured by the expectation of the imminent summer rains.

Main picture: Huts among the sandstone rocks at Rooikrans Camp

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Incompetence of the Labour Department: A Personal Odyssey

Finally after 45 years working I retired. A new obstacle was in my path: incompetent government departments. First in the queue was an attempt to claim from UIF. As a verdict, I can claim that the Department has no more than a passing acquaintance with organisation efficiency and customer service. As incompetence triggers my pugilistic instincts, would I be able to restrain myself sufficiently and not be frog-marched off the premises?

 

This is the chronicle of that frustrating odyssey.

Main picture: A series of photographs on the theme “Now they Tell Us”

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A Nesting Crested Barbet

I have only caught sight of the bird fleetingly in the garden but evidence that it has set up home in our yard is obvious. It has been creating a hole in the dead limb of a tree. My best guess at the identity of the freeloader is that it is a Cardinal Woodpecker. By rights, I would have preferred if it had obtained the necessary Planned Permits but the deed has clearly already been perpetrated.

Main picture: The Crested Barbet obtaining free board and lodgings in my tree

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The Num-Num Trail in June 2016

The Num-Num Trail is located in the Skurweberge between Machadodorp and Badplaas. There are a number of trails on this site and one is theoretically able to start at any point on the trail. Our usual starting point is the Pongola Express which comprises an actual train’s dining car together with a carriage. On this occasion Saturday’s hut was Candlewood with its panoramic view of the full drop of the Uitkomst falls.

Main picture: How the The Pongola Express managed to take a wrong turning and end up in the Skurweberge, I will never know 

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The Sea can be a Dangerous Place as I Learnt

Being brought up by the sea brought us boundless joy as children. From a very early age we all learned to swim proficiently. As my father was brought up at the coast, he took us to the beach every weekend irrespective of what the weather conditions were like. Due to our competence, we were left unsupervised and unattended on the beach from an early age. Instead of the current generation frequenting the malls, we led an active life.

Even as a competent swimmer I twice almost did not see another day. On both occasions it was a spring tide which was the cause of my near fatal mishaps. Perhaps familiarity breeds contempt as I did not treat the sea with the caution it deserves.

These are the chronicles of those events still seared in my memory.

Main picture: This is a view of the main sand dune at Maitlands River Mouth  Continue reading

Could South Africa learn from Road Running?

Today’s race at the National Botanical Gardens in Pretoria was no exception. Again I was surprised by what I learned except that it was not from a South African but a foreigner who has been in South Africa for only nine months.

One is not accorded a special status in road running. All runners are equal. Unlike the public discourse which is characterised by divisive racism, violent political rhetoric and the politics of rage especially by the EFF, road running does not suffer from these travails.

Main picture: The entrance to the Willows resort in Port Elizabeth. Instead of inserting some arbitrary pictures onto this blog, I have included photographs of Willows Resort near Port Elizabeth because as youngsters we spent many an Easter Holiday there.

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