The first entry into my Pilot’s logbook was on 16 August 2012. I was exactly 1 month pregnant and yet to find out…
By that time my name had been on a waiting list for a spot at the Flying School for some time, my deposit was paid and the ground school books were sitting on the table. I was ready to learn to fly. Continue reading “About Bumps in Cessnas”
The sun started to rise just before we passed lake Pehoe in the Torres del Pain National Park. It was one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever witnessed in my life, through probably the dirtiest bus windows ever. Oh the irony! It left me no choice but to take in the beauty rather than to try to photograph it. The soft early light turned the cloudy sky all hues of oranges and pinks, setting off the majestic Paine Cuernos (horns) in the most extravagant way possible. Continue reading “Ultra Fiord 50K Race Report”
“It was #$%^ed up” was the first words by Riana when she came home. It was around 2 am the morning after she finished second in her age group at the 2018 Ultra Fiord 50 km event. “This is more than just a trail run, its pure survival out there”. We are in Patagonia where the forests are dense, the wind wilder and alpine conditions start at 600 m above sea level.
In her mind she pleaded with me not to do my event two days later, but never voiced it. I went on to do 55 km of the 70 km event and endured extreme physical exhaustion, drugged-like hallucinations of snake-type creatures and lurking Lord of the Ring-type trees and of course extreme cold, lashing wind and blinding snow atop some really hard going mountain passes.
Now, after being home for a couple of weeks, I think the immensity of the race, the welcoming nature of the Chilean people and the enormous task of putting an event like this together is probably sinking in. Although both Riana and I need some time to reflect on Patagonia and Ultra Fiord 2018, I look back at those silver lined mountains, the immense beauty of the thick forests, the continuous slogging through the mud and the eery stillness while enduring the night, with a huge sense of achievement. To be able to be part of a race that captivates the human spirit in its rawest form, is something that is hard to explain. A race that epitomises our very existence on this beautiful planet.
This race is not a trail run, it was never meant to be. Patagonia pleads with you in its forests, on its mountain passes and through its mud that clings to your being. It pleads – “share me”. But that’s hard. Its hard to share the immensity of the place with anyone that’s not been there. Hard to share the wind howling in my ears as the snow drift slams into my face. My wooden hands unsure if they are still grasping my last trekking pole after the first broke some way down – somewhere in the mud. The mud. Hard to share the mud. Sinking in to my waist, wondering if my shoes are still on my feet. What to do if a shoe stays behind? Mud that filled my shoes, my socks, my existence. Unending, relentless mud.
Hard to share the feeling that there is no escape in the race. Once you start, you have to endure to the end. Stay mentally and physically strong. On ascending to El Passo (our highest pass) the wind picked up and with it came the snow. Waves of freezing snow drift that whitened the vertical rock-strewn gully. My headlight pierced the damp dark and I forced my fatigued body up towards the probing, bobbing cocoons of headlights far above. Just get up and get down – up and down – up and down I kept repeating to myself. It was late at night, with a very long way to go still. And on the other side of the mountain pass the snow had turned into ice. My second and last trekking pole snapped and I had to slide much of the way down. Slide walk fall, repeat.
At last I reached the snow line and went straight back into the mud. Trees huddled in knee deep mud lined the track. My headlight catches reflections of the route beacons, or is it other runners? Hallucinations set in and I jump when the roots start to move. Sliding from tree to tree without my poles – grasping at branches, at leaves, at anything. How do I share that feeling of being utterly alone, cold and fatigued in some of the remotest parts of the planet. My emotions run wild, I run walk stop sit rest and walk again. Or did I just sleep while sitting? Sharing the moments of this race, the immensity of it all is hard. But needs to be uttered. Patagonia has an inhospitable beauty that needs to be shared.
At last seeing the glowing, floating ball of light on the road. The tent at 55 km. Extreme relief overwhelms me and I know that the only way of sharing this race, the only way of sharing Patagonia is to be grateful for her. Grateful that a place of such beauty and surreal wilderness still exist on our planet. Grateful that I have been able to run, slide and survive Patagonia.
Nico: “The flight date you booked was 14 March 2018, today is 14 April 2018”.
Riana and the boys are standing in the queue with me, they are tired and fed-up from all the rushing and running in-between flights. We are on the Lima airport in Peru, just rushed off a flight out of Patagonia to make the check in for the flight to Iquitos in the heart of the Amazon within northern Peru. We want to reach Iquitos early in the afternoon in order to still make our 3 to 4 hour boat journey on the Amazon River to the Lodge, but now we do not have an airline ticket. It seems I made a mistake on our departure date when buying the tickets online 3 months earlier. Continue reading “The Amazon: On Surviving (Yet Another) Boat Ride”
During the last few days of 2017, as we reflected on year gone by, I crunched a few running numbers just for the sake of interest /being OCD/Virgo/a runnergeek. The stock take was actually sparked when, during a long run in December, I crossed the 1000 km mark for for the year. A whopping one thousand kilometers! On my feet! That is like running from Namibia’s southernmost border, Vioolsdrift, to Otjiwarongo in the north of the country and having some 60 km in spare change! Continue reading “Of the year that was 2017 in running”
Our trip to Canada towards the end of 2016 and into 2017 was mesmerizing. Not only did we start out 2017 with a beautiful 5 km Resolution Run in Vancouver, but the most snow in more than 10 years turned Lynn Valley, our base in North Vancouver, into a winter wonderland.
We are nearing the wide coral shelf that lines the shore, the swell is getting bigger and bigger, the waves more frequent. We are returning home early from the reef around Mnemba atoll where the wind got too strong and the water too choppy for the boys to enjoy the snorkeling. But not before we had the most amazing time swimming with and photographing a pod of 8 dolphins! Continue reading “Zanzibar: On Surviving a Shipwreck and Other Fun Experiences”
I woke up with my face full of canvas. Opening my eyes I saw that the one side of the tent was collapsing on us. My first instinct was to reach an arm to each of my sides where our boys lay sleeping, trying to protect their faces from the heavy canvas threatening to smother them. I checked my watch. It was 12:30 am. Nico, always a man of action, was already out the tent door. Assisted by the bright full moon he was searching for his hammer and some ropes to secure the tent. A gale force bergwind was wreaking havoc on our campsite.Continue reading “Brandberg FKT Challenge 2017”
My middle finger on my right hand is lifeless. The finger inside the glove is more like a piece of wood than part of my body. We are on 4,200 m, just below the shoulder on the 4,478 m high Matterhorn in Switzerland. I can’t hear Thomas over the howling wind and he can’t hear me complain about my finger or how tired I am, or that I am cold. He just pushes on. “Jawohl”. I think of you sitting snug below in the village, maybe looking up through the window towards the pyramid shaped peak towering above the valley. Are you thinking of me like I am of you? Are the boys chasing each other around the flat or are you walking down towards the center of town, over the glacial torrent tearing its way down from the snow capped peaks above. Continue reading “Second Attempt on the Matterhorn. A Mountaineering Report.”