TRAIL Mail #16: Friday 07 May 2021
Daily rituals for the win.
Trails for newbies in SA.
Final weeks to enter Film Awards.
Daily rituals make sense of our lives.
During lockdown, a column of concrete fence bordering the expansive Stellawood cemetery* across the street from me was crushed by a fallen Casuarina tree. Its remaining siblings leaned dangerously towards the road, held upright only by a section of barbed wire snagged onto a single Casuarina branch.
I would go for walks and runs using this gap. It felt like stepping into another world, like the characters in Being John Malkovich did. Each hop through the gap was a very welcome escape from pandemic negativity. There were verdant green rolling hills, towering coconut palms, and hundreds of trees. Nature was busy doing its thing everywhere.
Here there was no talk of viruses, just the gentle whisper of the wind through the often knee-high grass, and, eventually when lockdown restrictions were eased, the distant hum of traffic from the Edwin Swales highway 3km to the south.
But the thousands of granite blocks with their messages of love for those departed reminded me of the shortness of life, how quickly we age, and how we all try to find meaning for our lives.
Summer shared an abundance of sunshine, but then, inevitably, the tide turned, and daylight has become a precious commodity.
My mornings usually start early, around 3:30am or sometimes earlier, working on magazine content, researching, preparing for the day. In summer, I would get outside at 5am, but the rising of the sun was rarely formally acknowledged.
Things have changed. I now make a conscious decision to see the return of the battery that powers all life on Earth. It's as easy as walking across the road, and then a 50m walk to the top of a grassy knoll where I witness a sunrise of magnificence. The picture shows the return of The Force on Wednesday, with the Bluff headland just visible below the coconuts on the right.
When the sun gets to its retina-scalding stage, I close my unshielded eyes, turn and walk down into the dew-drenched saddle to a tarred 500m oval in the cemetery, where I do activations, then walk, jog, and do strides.
I like how it sets the tone to my day, creating a reflective transition before the challenges of the day start.
The same happens in the late afternoon, as the sun approaches its lowest point. It's a time to reflect on the day, to be grateful for what I've accomplished and the connections I've had with others.
This new connection with the hottest object I know got me thinking about making a short film of how a day is currently lived in my life. I thought about the many rituals everyone else has too. Things we do habitually to make our lives meaningful, and to perhaps do things both mundane and significant.
What are your morning and daily rituals and how does running factor in?
I'll be delighted to hear how you start and end your day. Just hit reply and tell me. I read and respond to every email.
*I'm told Stellawood cemetery is one of the largest collections in the southern hemisphere – if not the largest – of people who've lived their lives before ours. If you have strong feelings about H.I.L.L.S., its crumpled topography will either be Heaven or Hades. There's no disputing that it's the dead centre of town though.
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Last, we're into the final weeks of our 2021 Trail Film Awards, powered by Saucony. Have you got a film about trail running in you? Of course you do. Upload it to your preferred video host, and email me the link. Voila!
Happy trails to you and yours!
Trail raconteur in training
WILDSERIES Three Cranes Challenge. Thu 8 – Sun 11 July (KZN)
29km/25km/23km, 29km/40km/23km. Bushwillow Park, Karkloof. Scintillating forest trails through the beautiful indigenous Karkloof Conservancy. Start 6am. wildseries.co.za
Heaven & Hell Mountain Marathon. Wed 22 – Sat 25 September (EC)
5km, 8km, 14km, 22km, 44km, 88km, 176km. Rhodes. Pure, brutal wilderness mountain run in Southern Drakensberg. New 100 miler has over 16,000m vert! Start 5am. R50-R3,800. alpineswifttrails.co.za
You shared your weekend adventures on our Trail Trophy Facebook thread and it was a blast to see what you'd got up to.
Herman Crause enjoyed the beautiful Amatola trail on the Merrell Hobbit Journey with his pals Ruan Lamprecht and Pauline Robyn Wilkinson. Who can resist taking a selfie with a waterfall? No-one. Ever.
His photo may appear in a future TRAIL issue – and so could yours. Send us your best action photo, and tell us about the run. (Please don't send a professional event image. It needs to be a photo by you or a friend.)
Prefer using words? Write a letter and if we publish it, you'll receive a pair of Feetures socks.
Otter African Trail Run Challenge. Wed 6 – Thu 7 October (EC)
5km/42km. Nature’s Valley. Run the classic route west to east from Stormsriver Mouth to Nature’s Valley with 2,600m of ascent, 11 hour cut-off. otter.run
Otter African Trail Run Race. Fri 8 – Sat 9 October (EC)
5km/42km. Nature’s Valley. Run the classic route west to east from Stormsriver Mouth to Nature’s Valley with 2,600m of ascent, 9 hour cut-off. otter.run
Dassie Trail Runs. Sat 9 October (EC)
6km, 10km. Nature’s Valley. Float over rocks, roots, pebbles, through riverbeds and test yourself up steep climbs. Start 8:30am. R240/R280. otter.run
Trails suitable for newbies will feature in our next issue (40).
Photo Andy Wesson, PE Golf Course.
Ryan Sandes has announced he's partnered with the Cape Town Marathon for the Cape Town Trail Marathon by Ryan Sandes, offering 46km and 22km routes. Runners will traverse from the stadium to above the city through the Table Mountain National Park, experiencing the flora, fauna, and sweeping vistas of the Atlantic Ocean.
The iconic Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc announced yesterday that it's launching the UTMB World Series, with 30 events around the globe.
Event organisers, please email us to confirm we have your July, August and September event details loaded for our next issue if you haven't sent them previously. If we don't have them, you'll be able to provide them through our new listing link which walks you through all the requirements. More on our calendar listing page.
Our next issue (40, Jul/Aug/Sep) will feature first trail venues. Maybe you have a road running friend who's keen to try trail running but you know they'll battle if the trail is technical. Which easy local trail would you choose for their first trail run of 10km or less? Send your nominations.
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