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was recently joined by a few influential members of the trail running community for a trot around my local trails, a day that opened up some new insight for me into the world of running. Getting the opportunity to listen in on other peoples experiences, especially when it’s things that you don’t often hear about, is extremely uplifting and inspiring to say the least. It’s always a reminder of how different people interpret what trail running actually means to them, and what it is that makes them happiest. Interestingly, people often ask me, how can they become a better trail runner, or one South Africa’s top trail runners, and I guess my answer is always simple. Define what makes you the happiest when out on the trail and go in search of that every time you’re out there. Yes, you’ll need to train, yes you’ll need to be dedicated...but the sheer passion one can have for something is the real energy that will carry you over that finish line time and time again.
On the cover > Magda Sokolowski
enjoying her local trails in Pike National Forest, Colorado Image by: Michael Hudson
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April 2012/May 2012
In this issue of Go Trail magazine we redefine ourselves a little bit by bringing you a host of insight into some incredible stories within our sport. These aren’t your runof-the-mill articles...these are the stories behind some of the greatest events and people in the history of trail running. From one of the worlds most revered 100-Milers to a South African events company leading the way in promoting environmental sustainability, we’ve gone in search of a few “behind-the-scenes” perspectives. I’m sure you’ll agree that when you’ve finished reading the April/May issue you will have learned something new about the sport of trail running. Keep on enjoying what it is that draws you back to the trail as it’s this connection that will continue to inspire you. For now though, grab a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy the April/May issue of Go Trail. Keep on running!
Photo > Andrew Booth
The Editor enjoying a trail series race along the sacred trails atop Etafuleni (Zulu word meaning “mountain like table” due to it’s flat appearance when viewed from a distance) in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa April 2012/May 2012
In This Issue Features 44> 22>
On the trail of the Chasqui Runners
Through the eye of a compass needle
Itâ€™s all about the buckle
Regulars 10> 16> 30> 52> 58> 70> 76>
Talking trail The South American connection Through the lens Athleteâ€™s profile The fairer side of trail Trail running in stereo A single track mind
A very wet start on stage 3 of the 2011 Salomon 4-Trails in Europe
Photo > Kelvin Trautman Please note that Go Trail magazine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. We encourage you to share our work however please contact the editor for special permissions if requested. All images within this publication remain under the full Copyright of the photographers. In order to reproduce or reuse these images it is requested that you contact the photographer directly.
April 2012/May 2012
Photo > Kelvin Trautman
We know how much trail running means to you, so weâ€™ve created a multitude of channels where you can get your latest trail running updates. Whether it be our latest interview with some of the top athletes in the sport, to breaking news worldwide, weâ€™ve got it covered.
Subscribe > Rich Media > Stay Informed > Socialise >
April 2012/May 2012
When Plan doesnâ€™t work Photo> Klaus Fengler
ighly regarded as one of the top events organising companies in Europe, Plan B, based out of Munich in Germany, is not your a-typical trail running company. Founded back in 2004 by husband and wife team Uta and Heinrich Albrecht, it was in the rapidly growing sport at that time, mountain biking, where this team really cut their teeth and showcased their dedication to producing world class events. Photo> Lars Schneider
April 2012/May 2012
Photo> Klaus Fengler
not your a-typical trail running company April 2012/May 2012
oday, not only do they still spearhead iconic mountain bike races such as the Craft Bike Transalp and the Freeride Festival in Saalbach, but also manage their fair share of classic and renowned European trail running events to boot. One such event, respectfully and often sheepishly referred to as “The Highway to Hell”, has become legendary amongst the global trail running community. The GORE-TEX® TRANS Alpine Run, an eight day beast through three countries and over more the 18 000m of vertical ascent and decent, is Plan B’s most well known trail running race. And as a true testament to their focus of remaining a leading event organizing outfit, this race is fully subscribed mere days after the entries open each year, an opportunity for the amateur trail runner to mix with the sports professionals.
Other Trail Running Events From Plan B > SALOMON KEEP ON RUNNING ST. Wendel > SALOMON ZUGSPITZ ULTRATRAIL > SALOMON 4 TRAILS >ECCO INDOOR TRAIL
Photo> Lars Schneider
2012 Trailrunning Highlights
We are looking forward to a great Trailrunning year. www.planb-event.com
22. – 24. 06. 2012
04. – 07. 07. 2012
www.zugspitz-ultratrail.com www.4-trails.com www.transalpine-run.com www.womens-trail.com www.keep-on-running.com
01. – 08. 09. 2012
21. – 23. 09. 2012
05. – 07. 10. 2012
Anzeige-Trailrun 2012-3-Engl.indd 1
April 2012/May 2012
The South American Connection
The South American Connection Words > Mauricio Pagliacci Photos > Club de Corredores
he 11th Edition of El Cruce Columbia, the hardest of all editions due to terrain and elevation, started on Puerto Fuy (Chile) and ended near San Martin de los Andes (NeuquĂŠn, Patagonia Argentina) on 4th, 5th and 6th of February of this current year. El Cruce is a 3 stages-team race, joining Chile with Argentina through the imposing Cordillera de los Andes, the largest mountain
April 2012/May 2012
range in South America. It is organized by Club de Corredores, one of the biggest event organizers of Argentina. SebastiĂĄn Tagle is the race director and Owner of Club de Corredores, he took the idea of crossing the Andes near year 2002 and made the race grow up until now, where people from all over the world prepare their calendar every year to be part of El Cruce. Each stage has got an approximate distance of 30 kilometers, and goes through trails varying from mud,
rocks, logging roads and snow. The first challenge of the race was climbing the Mocho Choshuenco, an incredible volcano located near the small population of Puerto Fuy, on the Chilean side of the Cordillera de los Andes. The stunning views from the summit of the volcano amazed the 1500 trail runners. Luckily a clear day received them and could enjoy the incredible landscape that offers the Cordillera. The second stage was the longest, all around the Pirihueico Lake, covering a distance of 40 kilometers.
Perhaps it was not as hard as the first one, but the great effort done on the Volcano on the first day made legs suffer even more. Finally, the third stage was the shortest of El Cruce. 21 km on a trail with no elevation, joining Puerto Pirihueico with Nonthué Lake and passing through the Chilean and Argentinean Customs. The stages started and ended on a Camp coordinated by the Organization. Runners should only take their clothes and food for the race, the rest was all included on the registration cost (tent for the team, dishes, mug,
breakfast, lunch and dinner). Three camps (one on the previous day of the start, and two after the stages) where runners can get to know each other and share experiences. It’s great to see people from different parts of the world living together three days surrounded by mountains and an amazing landscape, is a unique experience. From the beginning of the race the winner couple of the last two editions, Gustavo Reyes and Nelson Ortega from Salomon-Optitech Team, took the lead and imposed a strong pace within three days of
competition. They are actually the strongest couple of trail runners in Argentina, also members of the Argentinean trail running team that raced the last Ultra Trail World Championships in Connemara (Ireland) on July 2011, and Gustavo Reyes is member of the Salomon International Team. They were followed closely by Carioca Runners composed of two tough athletes, Iazaldir Feitoza and Jose Virginio de Morais from Brazil. They struggled until the end to get the leadership, but the experience of Reyes and Ortega was unbeatable.
“The runners continue to traverses the snow covered peaks with spectacular views all around”
In third place arrived another Argentinean team, Daniel Simbron Running Team, conformed by Juan Jose Dal Pastro and Sebastian Balmaceda.
amazing experience to share with friends and a great opportunity to meet beautiful mountains with the excuse of running!
The women race was pretty exciting until the third stage. Cristina Carvalho and Rosalia Camargo from Brazil had a great fight with the Argentineans Virginia Galvez and Sofia Cantilo on the first two days of competition, but finally Brazil took the first place for a small difference. On mixed teams, the winners were John Tidd and Luciana Moretti from Lussich Team representing Uruguay.
The Chile Argentina Mountain Race (CHAM) Besides the main race, there was a two-stage competition for those who are recently into the sport named CHAM Race, with a distance of 60 kilometers and sharing a camp with El Cruce runners. 80 teams were in the start, and enjoyed the trails proposed by the organization while waiting for the main race athletes. This race was led from the first stage by the Optitech-GR Team of Lucio Perez and Mauricio Pagliacci followed by Zamigos Team of Gonzalo Ochoa and Ivan Besoky, both from Argentina. To all Go Trail readers, hope you can plan any race in Argentina or South America. There are wonderful trails here, and El Cruce is an April 2012/May 2012
Who it Mauricio Pagliacci? I’m 20 years old and I live and run in Neuquén – Argentina. I’ve been into trail running since I was 11 years, inspired by my parents and a group of friends who started this sport when nobody knew it in our country. I love training on my local trails but I also like training and racing in our Cordillera de los Andes...about a 2 hour trip and I’m there! The sport is getting bigger every year and I think this is the only way I can support it, showing the stunning races and landscapes around the country to the world. For more info about trail running in Argentina check out www.trailrunargentina.com.ar/
Gustavo Reyes and Nelson Ortega, winners, climbing the Mocho Choshuenco Volcano.
April 2012/May 2012
Itâ€™s All About The Buckle
It's all about the
buckle A historic look at one of the worlds greatest ultra-trail running events. Words | John Trent
This silver buckle belongs to American ultra-running legend Dean Karnazes, the one he was awarded from his last run at the Western States 100 in 2006. Photo > Ditore Mayo Entertainment
ach year, runners from throughout the world toe the starting line of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run hoping to not only try to cover the rugged course of the world’s preeminent 100-mile trail race, but to then, if they are successful, to receive the spoils of that accomplishment in the form of one of the ultrarunning’s most prized possessions – a silver belt buckle. Western States actually has two buckles. A silver buckle is awarded to runners who finish the race in less than 24 hours, and a bronze buckle is awarded to those who finish the race in 30 hours. In either case, the buckle has a rich history. It is part of what makes the Western States experience so special, according to race director Greg Soderlund. “Our buckles have become so prized because the achievement of running
Western States is considered so memorable,” Soderlund said. “The special nature of Western States has so much to do with the race’s history. Western States was the first 100-mile trail race ever, and it remains the most prestigious event of its kind in the world. The buckle has become a symbol of a rare achievement, and it carries with it historical significance as well.” The Western States buckle traces its origin to the Tevis Cup Ride, an endurance horse riding event that originally took horse and rider from Lake Tahoe, Calif., to the finish in Auburn, Calif., some 100 miles later. It was pioneered by a legend from the Sierra Nevada foothills, Wendell Robie, who on a dare in the early 1955 re-traced a 19th century route through the mountains near Squaw Valley, Calif. – the site of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games – to Auburn. Many thought such a ride would prove to be impossible.
Ultra-runner of the Year (UROY) winner Ellie Greenwood receiving her winners trophy and buckle at the 2011 WS 100 Photo > Joe McCladdie
“Our buckles have become so prized because the achievement of running Western States is considered so memorable”
Ellie Greenwood climbing hard at Escarpment on her way to victory in the women’s field at the 2011 WS100 Photo > Joe McCladdie
April 2012/May 2012
Robie, who never backed down to challenges, responded by saying, “By God, I’ll show you that it can be done.” Twenty-two hours and 45 minutes later, Robie and four companions and their horses danced into Auburn along with a ceremonial packet of mail they had brought with them from Lake Tahoe. Robie’s accomplishment of riding the 100 miles led to the creation of the Tevis Cup, where participants who rode the 100 miles in less than 24 hours were awarded a Tevis Cup buckle emblazoned with a Pony Express rider in gold. In 1974, Gordon “Gordy” Ainsleigh, who was
an equestrian and ride and tie competitor and also a talented runner with a number of the marathons run in the 2-hour, 45-minute range, decided to run, rather than ride, the entire 100 mile distance during that year’s Tevis Cup. “People thought I was crazy,” Ainsleigh recalled, noting that no one believed he could finish the course, which included nearly 19,000 feet of climbing and nearly another 23,000 feet of descent, reaching well above 8,000 feet in elevation at points, and through infernal California Gold Country canyons where temperatures could soar to more than 110 degrees, at other points, in less than 24 hours.
The attention to detail for the buckle was painstaking and the end product exquisite April 2012/May 2012
Ainsleigh, who had been inspired and encouraged to try the feat by Drucilla Barner, the first woman to win the Tevis Riding Cup, made history that August day. He became the first person to ever run the 100-mile Western States Trail between Squaw Valley and Auburn in less than 24 hours -- 23 hours and 42 minutes, to be exact. By 1977, the first official Western States 100Mile Endurance Run had been established, with a silver belt buckle award for runners who completed the course in under 24 hours. The buckle was designed by Robie, and featured the Greek god Hermes, patron
of athletics and the protector of runners. The attention to detail for the buckle was painstaking and the end product exquisite: each was handcrafted by one of the finest silversmiths in the United States, Howard Stegman, of Comstock Silversmiths. In 1978, a plaque award was instituted for runners who finished in under 30 hours and subsequently, a separate bronze buckle was created. The difference, in addition to silver being used for sub-24- and bronze being used for sub-30-hour finishers, could be seen in the wording on the two buckles.
South Africaâ€™s Ryan Sandes will be heading to Squaw Valley, California this coming June to tackle the historic Western States 100 Mile Endurance Race, his second international 100-miler. He will be competing alongside fellow Salomon International Team member, and previous winner of the Western States 100, Kilian Jornet. Photo > Kolesky/Nikon/Lexar April 2012/May 2012
Bronze buckles simply noted “100 Miles” on their inscription, while the silver buckles had the additional wording “100 Miles One Day” signifying that the recipient had covered the course in less than 24 hours.
handcraft each and every Western States cougar buckle, which are known the world over.
The Western States buckle has also helped contribute to ultramarathoning’s unique and colorful lexicon. Runners In 1983, race organizers speak often of catching the replaced Hermes and his dread disease “bucklemania” Greek tunic and winged hat in pursuit of a Western States and shoes and caduceus with buckle. When they have an American Indian runner in successfully accomplished deerskin boots. The following the task, they speak of having year the American Indian gave “buckled” at Western States. way to a more modern male The buckles also take on a life runner who was then replaced of their own, as evidenced by by male and female runners. the runners who come back Finally, by the late 1980s, the year after year to earn another. iconic Western States cougar Prior to the running of the made its appearance as the 2012 edition of the race, there focal point on the silver have been 62 runners who and bronze buckles. To this have successfully earned day, Stegman and his family 10 or more Western States
buckles. These “1,000 Mile” buckles have led to the creation in recent years of a “2,000 Mile” buckle as four runners have now completed the race 20 or more times. Five-time champion Tim Twietmeyer of Auburn is the undisputed longevity buckle king of Western States, having finished the race 25 times. He earned a silver belt buckle all 25 times. But perhaps the greatest testament to the value of the buckles occurred in 2011, when the Auburn Journal reported that Judy Suter, a resident of a small town near Auburn, following more than 25 years, finally found a runner who had left his buckle behind at the awards ceremony after finishing the
race in 1985. Judy’s husband, Bob, was race director that year, and the buckle was put away in a box and stored in a drawer. Finally, through Facebook, Judy was able to contact Klaus ArmstrongBraun of Wales. ArmstrongBraun, 70, said he would be “delighted” to receive the buckle, which Judy sent to him in the mail in January 2011.
It was in 1977 that this man, Gordon “Gordy” Ainsleigh, pictured above keeping a watchful eye out for the competitors of the 2009 WS100, ran what would become the first ever 100-mile endurance foot race and set in motion a trend in ultra-trail running that would become legendary the world over. Photo > Gareth Mackay/www.garethmackay.com
“People thought I was crazy”
“It’s hard to imagine another award from another race living on like that buckle,” Soderlund said. “But that’s what makes our buckle so special: 25 years later, it still carries with it the weight of our history, the weight of its own history and the incredible significance of a deeply personal accomplishment.”
Gordon “Gordy” Ainsleigh
April 2012/May 2012
Through The Lens
Words and Photos > Craig Kolesky
his was the second time going to the Salomon Skyrun to photograph the event. The first year I shot this I didn’t know what to expect, I had only heard of the event a few months before and was oblivious to the conditions the runners had to go through to get the finish line, I didn’t even own a proper pair of trails shoes before this event, yes that ’s true. I will never forget that first race briefing, the priceless expressions on the competitors faces as event organizer Adrian Saffy went through the route in detail. Hell, I was scared and I wasn’t even there to run. The 2011 Skyrun was different for me, I kind of knew the route and had a rough idea of what I wanted to shoot. For 2 days I lived on a quad bike chasing down the leaders of the race tr ying to capture what they were going through. To me there is not only one winner for the race, crossing the finish line of the Salomon Skyrun makes everbody a winner.
The SkyRun is not for sissies, you have to be 100% committed to get the race done. 19 year old Mathew De Haast is the youngest â€œSkyrunnerâ€? to take on the challenging 100km race.
April 2012/May 2012
â€œFollow the fence lineâ€? are the word event organizer Adrian Saffy repeats all the time. But when crossing the fence line which one do you follow. April 2012/May 2012
The start of the Salomon Skyrun starts in a small town called Lady Grey. The main street is shut down for the start and a lot of the locals get up early to support theâ€?Skyrunnersâ€?, this is the only tar road the runner will tread on in 100kms.
April 2012/May 2012
A local herdsman saw and wheel barrow lying outside his tin house while these â€œSkyrunnersâ€? take it easy after checkpoint 2. April 2012/May 2012
A lot of runners do the race solo, but sometimes you can get company for as long as they can keep up with you or you with them.
April 2012/May 2012
As the sun sets this runner still has roughly 30km to go in the dark, the last part of the race is pretty intense and can make or break you. April 2012/May 2012
On The Trail Of The Chasqui Runners
Trail Of The Chasqui Runners On On The The
Words / Images > Walter Rhein
The view from the central plaza of Choquequirao
was halfway up the 5,000 foot vertical climb when I realized I wasn’t going to have enough water to get to the top. The sun was beating down, and I was in the middle of the Andes mountains, about 8 miles away from the famous ruins of Choquequirao. I took a quick drink from the plastic tube that stuck out from my hydration pack, and resolved to start rationing my fluids a little more carefully. My portero had different ideas. Noticing my act, he gestured at the little tube, still dripping with water. “Can I have some?” He asked. I winced inwardly, but I couldn’t deny Jesus, that was appropriately enough his name, a drink. The guy was a physical marvel, despite the heat of the day, he’d drunk very little throughout the 12 or so miles we’d already covered. In fact, the only thing I remember him drinking at all was a glass of some kind of Peruvian fruit juice at a small kiosk around mile 7.
passed him the tube and was relieved when he took only a short drink before spinning on his heel and heading back up our path. I sighed and, shifting my pack for what seemed like the thousandth time that day, struggled to my feet to follow. The genesis for this trip had been born about eight months earlier when I met Roberto Carcelen, a cross-country skier and Peru’s first winter Olympian. I’d come across his name on a random article online and I looked him up on Facebook of all places. Roberto trains for Olympic and World Cup cross-country skiing events by doing a 6 day trail run in Peru’s Andes mountains. Roberto’s concept is that jogging through the ruins of ancient fortresses helps allay the boredom of an Olympic athlete’s strenuous training schedule. Having never done 40 hours of training in a week, I couldn’t really relate, but the logic seemed sound. I have a very strong connection to Peru. I lived there for 10 years, and in my last couple
“I have a very strong connection to Peru. I lived there for 10 years, and in my last couple years I was the editor of LivinginPeru.coM” years I was the editor of LivinginPeru.com. LivinginPeru.com is Peru’s biggest English news source, and they’re still happy to take an article from me from time to time. I wrote Roberto for an interview, and when it was subsequently published in LiP, the story was followed up by El Comercio (Peru’s largest newspaper). Later, Roberto happily informed me that his mom had come across the article El Comercio, and the pride in his voice indicated that he felt extremely indebted to me. It was surely this indebtedness that provoked Roberto to call me up in June.
for three or four easy jogs a week. However, from long experience, I know what the response is when an Olympian asks you your fitness level. “Lousy, why?” “We’re going to Choquequirao this summer, you should come along!” The utterance of the name piqued my interest. In the 10 years that I’d lived in Peru, I’d been to Machu Picchu about 15 times (since everyone who came to visit me wanted to go and see it). However, I’d never been to Choquequirao.
”Hey, what’s your fitness level?” he asked excitedly on the phone. I was actually in decent shape. I’d skied the American Birkebeiner back in February, and I tried to maintain a basic fitness by going out
Choquequirao is a set of ruins that’s been getting a lot of attention lately since it’s known to be as spectacular as Machu Picchu, but it’s such a strenuous journey to get there that it’s almost devoid of any tourists. The nearest April 2012/May 2012
accessible road is 20 miles from the entrance to Choquequirao. Most tour companies split this trip up over two days and pack their clients in on the backs of donkeys. Roberto had us run it in one. But the difficulties are worth it because as awe inspiring as Machu Picchu is, there is some essential, selfish inner part of all of us that finds even greater enjoyment in experiencing such a place in utter solitude. That’s exactly what Choquequirao offers. Roberto didn’t need to say any more. “I’m in!” I said eagerly and hung up the phone. Back out on the Inca trail with 8 miles of vertical climbing with nothing left in my pack to eat or drink, the decision didn’t seem quite
as Santa Rosa and that there were only 16 switchbacks remaining until the campsite. I took this information with a grain of salt and, sure enough, eventually ended up counting about 20 switchbacks before I finally finished the hike (and that includes at least four more that I was just too tired to keep track of ). Still, as exhausted as I was after the ordeal, I found myself euphoric to have arrived. There’s something special about jogging and camping in the Andes. They’re a distinct set of mountains with youthful chasms and abrupt cliffs that you simply don’t see in the Rockies. Plus, the prevalence of magnificent Inca ruins makes it feel like you’ve been transported within the framework of an Indiana Jones film.
“Choquequirao is a set of ruins that’s been getting a lot of attention lately since it’s known to be as spectacular as Machu Picchu, but it’s such a strenuous journey to get there that it’s almost devoid of any tourists.” so brilliant. Still, there was no choice but to soldier on, so I dropped myself into that zombie state that’s known to anyone who has ever run a marathon or skied the Birkie and simply resolved to continue putting one foot in front of the other until I arrived. Fortune was with me, however, as a couple miles up the trail I stumbled into a woman in a small hut who was selling miraculous things like jugs of water and snickers bars. Jesus was waiting for me there, smiling in joy since our survival seemed suddenly assured. Every now and then Roberto’s voice crackled two me over the small, two-way radio he’d given me. He and Martin Koukal, an Olympic medalist from the Czech Republic, had sprinted off that morning and I hadn’t harbored any illusions about being able to stay with them. Roberto informed me that the woman’s hut was known April 2012/May 2012
I sat down to take in the view, and it wasn’t until an hour or so later that I even realized Choquequirao was visible off in the distance. “Hey! There it is!” Roberto just laughed at me. “What did you think of the first day?” He asked. “It was hard.” “Normally we split the first day into two legs,” he admitted, “but I thought you could handle it.” The knowledge of that 20 mile day being sliced mercilessly in half was appealing to me. “Thanks for the vote of confidence, but I think for most people, two days would be better.” “Yes, some people start swearing at me when they arrive at camp,” Roberto said with a chuckle.
On the one hand, I could kind of understand that impulse. But there in the shadow of Choquequirao, with the whole world seemingly laid out at my feet, I simply wasn’t in the mood to curse out anyone. The next day we quickly packed up our camp and made our way to the checkpoint that marked the entrance to the ruins. Until recently, Choquequirao has been free, but we were required to pay a fee of 37 Nuevo Soles (about $12). The attendant at the checkpoint urged us to make sure we took the time to look at the spectacular “wall of llamas” on the back side of the ruins. He waved good-bye, but when I turned to take his picture he dove behind his desk and cried out, “no no no no photos!” It occurred to me that maybe the guy wasn’t working for the Peruvian government and had just found it profitable to set up shop and charge an entry fee, but either way it didn’t bother me all that much. The price was a tenth of what I was willing to pay. My excitement grew as I made my way through the last entrance gate and finally found myself within the Choquequirao compound. Much as I expected, a great part of the sensation was due to the fact that there was absolutely nobody in sight. It’s wonderful to hear the sound of the Andean wind whistling through the ancient stone work, instead of the exclamations of tourists who have just discovered that their memory card is out of space, or they forgot to charge the batteries of their digital camera. I decided to spend my day taking photos, but Martin and Roberto continued their world cup training, and frequently came jogging past me, or could be seen cresting hills in the distance. Like Machu Picchu, Choquequirao is a massive set of ruins that takes a couple full days to explore. Much of this is due to the strenuous terrain which takes a fair amount of time for an average person to cover, but the scope of the ruins should not be underestimated. It is literally a large ancient city, with huge
collections of structures remaining intact.I walked along the terraced entryway and traveled down the three or four hundred yard corridor that leads to the first of many junction points. From there I headed up to the main plaza at Choquequirao, and on to the cleared platform at the base of the ruins that overlooks the valley. Like most of the ruins in Peru, Choquequirao is filled with magnificent stonework, towering structures, and the remnants of spectacular fountains. Although water doesn’t flow through the irrigation channels of Choquequirao, the remnants are a testament to Incan ingenuity.
Roberto Carcelen and Martin Koukal sprint up the stairs to the ruins of Pisaq
As I explored and took pictures I unexpectedly crossed paths with Martin. Martin was prone to sleeping in a little later than the rest of us and then come jogging by us later in the afternoon. At the end of the day, Martin had covered every pathway at Choquequirao including the lower ruins that I found I simply didnâ€™t have the legs to get down to. True to the gatekeeperâ€™s word, one of the best features of Choquequirao was the wall of llamas on the back side of the ruins. It requires about a two hour walk down towards the valley, and culminates in an observation point from which the whole wall can be seen. All in all I spent about six hours traipsing through Choquequirao, stopping only briefly
to enjoy a quick lunch. The silence and the magnificence of the place make it feel less like a tourist attraction and more like a spiritual work of art. When I finally ran into Roberto again, he reflected with a touch of nostalgia that you used to be able to pitch your tent right in the central plaza of the ruins instead of in the designated campgrounds below it. Although waking up in the center of Choquequirao would be an unbelievable experience, I can also see the value in separating the tourists from the ruins. It was with a touch of sadness that we packed up and left Choquequirao the next day. We spent the next four days traversing the Andes on our way to Machu Picchu, crossing the
The third day of camping, a very difficult eight mile hike from Choquequirao April 2012/May 2012
15,000 ft Yanama pass en route. Martin and Roberto always made better time than I did, but I was content to follow the old marathoner mantra of “run when you can, hike when you have to.” The journey was spectacular all the way to Aguas Calientes. We arrived just in time for the 100 year celebration of Machu Picchu, but for me at least, Choquequirao was definitely the crown jewel of the adventure. In the ten years I’ve been going to Machu Picchu, I’ve noticed the journey has gotten more and more restrictive every time I’ve made the trip. In the early days, you could scramble over any section of the ruins that you so desired. Now, however, tourists are being funneled through a designated route
that helps with preservation but does limit your enjoyment of the place to some extent. The difficult road to Choquequirao is going to keep it a more authentic Andean experience for the foreseeable future, but in all honesty it’s only a matter of time before Choquequirao becomes as popular as Machu Picchu. Travel destinations like Choquequirao are getting more and more rare, and trail running destinations like this are virtually extinct. If you have a chance to go there, I’d suggest you do it now. It might be the last place you can listen to the Andean winds whispering through the stones just as the Incas did. Believe me, that’s not an experience you want to miss.
i Walter Rhein is the author of “Beyond Birkie Fever,” a novel about how Crosscountry skiing can be the gateway to a life of travel and adventure. The book is available at Amazon.com (you can get to it by typing FreshAirAthlete.com), and at the CyclovaXC retail bicycle and cross-country ski store in St. Croix Falls (125 North Washington St., Suite A, St. Croix Falls WI, 54024 715 483-3278). It’s also available with the publisher at Rhemalda.com. For questions or comments, Walter can be reached at email@example.com.
April 2012/May 2012
t side of Pretoria in ou st ju rm fa a on d ise ra d aving been born an ie to be able to explore nd La r fo lt cu ffi di l al at t n’ South Africa, it was As a child she relished s. ng di un rro su r oo td ou r the expanse of he ng spots away from her di hi d an ” es ac pl t re ec “s g in the opportunity at discover ate playground. tim ul r he g in m co be e ap sc brother, the rugged land as involved in athletics, w d an t or sp at d lle ce ex s ay As a school goer, Landie alw er that she really found ev w ho 08 20 til un t n’ as w It cross country and hockey. few Adventure Racing a in ed at ip ic rt pa g in av H g. her passion for trail runnin dium finishes at some po of l fu nd ha a d de ar aw en events as well as having be d that her fearless and ize al re e sh , ts en ev g in nn of the local Gauteng trail ru d, as in 2010 and 2011 di it so d An y. nd ha in e m co competitive nature would came second nature. be ) ng ni in w nd (a ng ci ra r he
Q+A with Landie In this exclusive interview we find our more about this unassuming young trail and what makes her tick as one of South Africa’s upand-coming trail athletes to watch. Go Trail (GT): When you first began trail running, what were the things that you most enjoyed about the sport, the things that made you want to get out there more and more, and are these still fundamentals to your running now? As I mentioned, I am a nature-lover and explorer, so after I did my first trail run, I was hungry to discover and explore every possible trail. My husband would always tease me when we were driving, because I get so excited when I saw a trail next to the road....I just want to get out of the car and run it!
GT: Tell us about a typical day-in-the-life of Landie Visser when it comes to your training? Where do you like going, and what is your favorite terrains? I have been extremely fortunate to live in two of the most beautiful areas of our country, the Garden Route and now Stellenbosch (Western Cape), so I am completely overwhelmed by all the trails. At our previous home in Glentana, I would normally go out on a longish trail run in the morning and go for a beach run in the afternoon. I also like to cross-train, so 2-3 times a week I would hit the lovely gravel roads from our house on my mountain bike for 2-3 hours. At our new place near Stellenbosch, we live right on mountain bike and a hiking route, so the options are endless!
Splashing through one of the 4 river crossings on the 2011 African Otter Trail Run Photo > Jacques Marais April 2012/May 2012
Landies top podium finishes; 2010 >
Mont Aux Sources Challenge 2nd Female
2010 > African X 2nd Female Team 2011 >
Bayos Bend Trail Run (Texas, USA) 1st Female
Salomon Featherbed Trail Run 1st Female
Otter African Trail Run 3rd Female
Hermanus Berg and Bush 1st Female
GT: You’ve had a few great results at some of South Africa’s top trail running events including your third place at the 2011 Otter African Trail Run. What do you enjoy about competitive trail running, and more so, what is it that brings you back to compete even harder each time? I have an awfully competitive nature, so I love exploiting this characteristic when I am out on the trails. I enjoy pushing my body to the limits, especially when I feel I can go no further, in which case I just switch off, ignore the pain and push even harder!
GT: Who do look up to most in the sport? Is there anyone in particular you see as a role model and if so why? Ann Trason (American Trail Runner). I believe she is one of the greatest, true trail runners. She looks likes she’s flying when she is running; she was unbeatable on any long distance trail.
GT: As a woman in trail running, especially here in South Africa, do you feel that there is equality between men and women in the sport? Interesting question, especially since there has been quite a lot of talk on this topic of late. If one looks at all the trail running productions on April 2012/May 2012
SuperSport (local sports channel), it is obvious that women do not receive as much coverage and broadcasting time as men. This has been specifically noted by my family who are always so excited when they learn that I will be on TV. However, they have phoned me numerous times, disappointed that none of the women, including myself as a podium finisher, featured much.
GT: We know you help organize one of South Africa’s new short course trail running events. What’s it like being on the other side of the fence come race day? It is a totally different experience, in a good way. I love seeing the absolute bliss on people’s faces on the trails, and the chirpy chatter post race. It’s definitely a stressful experience but its great giving something back to the sport of trail running. Luckily I am out on the trail for most of the race, so luckily I also get to experience some of the serene nature.
GT: We believe you recently got married so congratulations. Do you let your husband win from time to time or is there no mercy shown when you’re out on the trail? Thanks. My husband is an excellent trail runner –
Ladnie crosses the finish line of the 2011 Otter African trail run in a brilliant time Photo > Jacques Marais
so he wins on the shorter trail runs. But as soon as there is some distance involved, I like to let that male ego suffer a bit!
GT: With the 2012 season firmly into the swing of things, what have you got lined up for the second half of the year? I have recently signed with Salomon South Africa, so will be doing the Salomon Featherbed Trail Run, the Thule 4 Peaks and the Skyrun. Other races lined up are the The Houtbay Challenge, Crazystore Magaliesberg Challenge and the Otter African Trail Run.
GT: If you could choose one race to win here in South Africa as well one overseas, which would they be and why? Locally I’d have to say the Otter African Trail Run - in trail running, one has to win to the “grail of trail”!!
Having some fun on a beach run in the Western Cape Photo > Unknown
is older than the Alps, a place named after an ancient, mystical Greek princess and home to two of the longest non-stop trails in Europe”, it is definitely on my bucket list!
GT: In one sentence, tell us what trail running means to you! Trail running sets your mind and body free, it’s electrifying!
Overseas definitely the Grand Raid de Pyrenees Since I first learned about it and recently read the article in Go Trail introducing the race as: “Imagine running through a mountain range that April 2012/May 2012
The Fairer Side Of Trail
Fairer Side of Trail
by Robyn Ferrar
hat do you think of when you read the word ‘meditation’? Perhaps the clichéd lotus position floats into your mind’s eye, and you can almost smell the incense and hear the birdsong soundtrack? Or you may roll your eyes and move on to more productive thought processes - there was a time when I too would have scoffed at anything vaguely spiritual or metaphysical. Whether it appeals to you or not, anyone who is familiar with the practice of meditation will tell you the same thing. It’s hard! Doing it right is very hard indeed.
have even turned it into a skill and called it multi-tasking. So what on earth has this got to do with trail running? Whenever I am asked what it is I love about the sport, it is one of the first things that come to mind. Trail running is my meditation. Often people, especially women,
The idea is to practice emptying your mind of all its clutter, everything from what you’re going to make for dinner, right up to the debt collectors beating down your door with baseball bats.
The idea is to practice emptying your mind of all its clutter, everything from what you’re going to make for dinner, right up to the debt collectors beating down your door with baseball bats. You have to anchor your attention in the present moment and do your utmost to allow nothing else in. Women are especially guilty of cluttering their minds; they
will tell you that they run because it gives them time to think. For me however, running is the gag for that chatterbox in my head. I make a concerted effort to empty my mind and focus on the present moment. For a start I don’t want to miss out on the good stuff, like the sound of a waterfall or the subtle changes in the sunset, but being aware of what’s
underfoot at any given time is also pretty handy. So why is meditation, or perhaps more accurately – ‘mindfulness’, a good thing? Well apparently it has all sorts of benefits, and most are much closer to home than the spiritual. The mental, emotional and physical aspects of the self are all nourished by the practice, with all the usual suspects such as stressrelief, improved concentration etc. Being more scientifically inclined myself, I love the bit about how it is showing that it can actually reduce the size of the amygdala (fear centre of the brain), grow the prefrontal cortex (rational brain) and essentially re-programme those harmful neural pathways. But the one I always come back to is this: it allows you to not miss out on life, because all we ever truly have is what’s in the present moment.
Of course I don’t always get it right. My well-trod trails allow me to switch to auto-pilot so that my mind is free to sneak back to the future, or past. But that is exactly when things can and have gone pear-shaped for me. This is a sport where if you stop paying attention to the moment, you can get hurt. Almost every fall I have taken has been on very easy, well-known trails where I simply have not been paying attention. When you’re racing flat out down a mountain trail, over rocky and unpredictable terrain, the safest place to be is 100% present and focused. That’s meditation. Never do I feel more powerfully alive or more intimately connected to the natural world! And not only is it great fun, but it’s also far easier than sitting still in a room and trying to think of nothing. Well, it is for me anyway.
Who is Robyn Ferrar? Born and bred in southern Africa, my love for the outdoors started as a child scampering over the granite rocks of the Rhodesian hills and exploring the bush of the Highveld. I discovered a natural running ability at school and excelled on the track and trail. After school I moved to the UK and discovered the excitement and beauty of fell running and adventure racing. Four years ago I finally returned to Africa and to the rapidly growing fledgling sport of trail running. I had been dreaming of settling near the mountains of the cape peninsula for many years, so finally I had come home. Some achievements in the past year include wins in both the Helderberg and Jonkershoek Mountain Challenges; 2nd in the Otter African Trail Run and Stanley’s Mountain Run; and 3rd in Two Ocean’s Trail Run and Old Fisherman’s Challenge. If you’d like to contact Robyn with suggestions on what topics she should cover, please feel free to do so via email: robyn. firstname.lastname@example.org April 2012/May 2012
Through the eye of a compass needle
An in-depth story about the origins of one of South Africaâ€™s most revered trail running events companies, Magnetic South. Words > Mark Collins
April 2012/May 2012
To begin with, allow me to go back a bit; John (my brother) and I met our wives Belen and Christine on the Camel Trophy events where we had all been participants at some stage and then later we were lucky enough to be recruited as staff members for subsequent events. Belen was the first woman participant to represent Spain in the 1995 Camel Trophy Mundo Maya while Christine represented Germany in ‘96 in the Borneo Edition. John and I were the South African Team in ‘98 Tierra del Fuego and we all worked together in the final Camel Trophy in Tonga & Samoa 2000.
hortly afterwards Land Rover launched the G4 Challenge and the same company, D3, was contracted to manage the adventure competitions & logistics. We were all lucky enough to be recruited to work on those events. This common grounding in these really special events moulded the way the four of us think upon eventing today. D3 was headed by an extraordinary man, Simon Day, whose creativity and trade mark “big thinking” had a huge influence on our ideas. Typically in those four week events we would literally circumnavigate the globe. It was intense event experiences from another world. One day you were closing off Broadway in New York for a 4x4 obstacle course and a few days later you were totally alone, camped by a billabong in the Australian Outback waiting for teams to arrive. A day later you were marshalling a 4x4 course on the world’s biggest barge docked front of the Sydney Opera House, 24 hours after that you were racing down the streets in Vegas. From controlling high speed 60 vehicle convoys through the streets of Bangkok to Kayak races in underground rivers in Laos. From fire spewing live volcanoes in Chilli, to Kings Birthdays in the South Pacific. From overseeing water safety on an obstacle course on Copa Cabana beach, to racing at high speed across a Bolivian salt pan at 4000 meters. These April 2012/May 2012
were just a few of the highlights of a wonderful and formative period of our lives. Just as importantly to our thinking during this period was that we were all also actively participating in other events and working with other companies. John and I were adventure racing competitively. Belen and Christine were (separately) organising corporate events across Europe and Africa and North, South and Central America. These events brought us into contact with a wide range of participants and companies. We got to see the world’s best endurance athletes close up in extreme conditions as well as those for whom a corporate team building event was the furthest they had ventured from a couch. Learning to read the different participants and understand what would challenge or endanger partakers of diverse experience, competence and fitness and is an essential skill of an event organiser. Back in South Africa our experience earned us the confidence of Land Rover and we were rewarded with the contracts for managing of all their adventure work. It was a great start for our fledgling company and Land Rover were exceptional clients. The growing business also afforded us the opportunity to attract some incredible people onto our team. It is the thing we do best; assemble world class crews. We employed
Photo > Jacques Marais
Christine Collins discuses flight plans with Race pilot. Otter 2011 three full time staff. It was then that Chris Crewdson joined Magnetic South as event administrator. He has since become one of the most sought after event administrators in the country and we now have to share him with the Tour de Thuli. Trail Running was at that stage a core part of our
2008 was a fantastic year for Magnetic South with the highlight being the staging of SA Selections for the Land Rover G4 Challenge in Lesotho. We were on a high. We were putting on events of a calibre similar to that of our mentor company. Sadly the year ended on a low. Responding responsibly to the financial
â€œTypically in those four week events we would literally circumnavigate the globe.â€? lifestyle and although we dabbled in organising a few events we were far more interested in participating in runs than organising them. We have some of the best trail runs on the planet right on our doorsteps and for most of the year we have them all to ourselves. And so we ran and whilst we ran we talked. We wandered about how incredible it would be to organise runs on these same trails. Johnâ€™s dream was to run the Otter Trail as a trail run.
crises, the events owners suspended all event related marketing for 2009 and we had a full year planned. Their response to the recession was text book and the brand emerged with increased market share and stronger than ever and we are privileged to have been able to retain them as clients albeit on different projects. We also had to reinvent ourselves.
April 2012/May 2012
â€œ2008 was a fantastic year for Magnetic South with the highlight being the staging of SA Selections for the Land Rover G4 Challenge in Lesotho. We were on a high.â€?
New Beginnings Reinventing is painful but ultimately what defines you. The low point was having to let one of our key staff members go. The upside was that finally we had time to focus on our passions that had been kept on the back burner and The Otter Run came into picture. We have enjoyed a very good working relationship with South African National Parks since our inception and felt privileged that they were even willing to consider our proposal for a trail run on South Africaâ€™s premium hiking trail. It was never a decision that they were going to take lightly and after robust internal debate they gave us permission to do trial event provided that the Environmental Impact Study was done. The first Otter Run presented by Hi Tec was a huge success and the repose from participants was incredible. One of the most rewarding things about putting on hard-core trail runs is getting to be with the type of people it lures in an environment you share a passion for. The Otter is a magnet for such people. Vitally for us and the sport, SANParks were very satisfied with the way the event was managed and extended our contract with them. We are very proud of the confidence they have in our organisation and trail running. The Otter Run is now attracting top trail runners from all over the world. The Knysna Oyster Festival is a big event for the town and being an event company in Knysna we always knew we had to be a part of it. Our relationships
with Salomon & PETZL go back 15 years and together we set about adding a trail run to the festival calendar and the result was the uniquely Knysna Featherbed Trail Run which has grown to be the 3rd biggest event of the festival. One of our most successful and rewarding projects is the management of the Sabrina Love Ocean Challenge on behalf of the Sabrina Love Foundation. Together with event sponsor Stonehage and Discovery we have overseen the growth of the event from 250 participants to over 25000 raising ZAR700 000 for children with special needs in 2011. We also added a trail run to the program of 10 events this year. Our deepest event passions lie in the more wildness orientated events and our initial endeavours with the staged Multi Sports angled Southern Storm showed us the potential for this project. Hardly a day does not go past without our office fielding an enquiry to the next Storm. Like all our projects we manage them with financial and environmental responsibility at the forefront and we embark on any new project with the utmost consideration. We have attracted the attention of a big sponsor so Multi Sporters should baton down the hatches for 2013. A Storm is approaching.
Photo > Jacques Marais
Registration. Competitors are issued with bi-directional electronic April 2012/May 2012
Photo > Jacques Marais
An event team member puts the finishing touches to the floating finish chute for the Otter Run April 2012/May 2012
A growing awareness My last contract for D3 saw me on a scouting team in central Asia for the G4 Challenge. Our job in a nutshell was to find adventurous locations for the event. For someone who loves the wild and adventure that is possibly the best job description in the world. As it turned out though, the reality was somewhat disturbing for me and it brought home the scary realisation that the world is fast running out of wilderness.
position we are in. Events in that take place in our natural environments need to be used as a podium for conservation. The responsibility of those of us who participate in sports in the wilderness is huge, particularly the organisers. We have to be beyond reproach in every regard and use our platform to promote the conservation. The wilderness is a core part of what draws us to these sports and we need to revere it. The old maximum “take nothing but photographs; leave nothing but footprints” just isn’t good enough any more. It’s too late for that, we need a higher benchmark. If we continue only to leave a place as we found it, we have had no influence. We are 7 billion and our current approach to progress unsustainable.
Trained TSIBA Eden Campus students man the GU Point on the Otter Run. As part of an on-going program Magnetic South trains TSIBA students in various event related fields which selected put into practice on the event. Magnetic South pays the collage for the students time which goes towards the students tuition fees.
Photo > Martin Hatchel
I came back to South Africa urgently feeling that we need to do more to make a difference. I love the wild but love, as my daughter keep reminding me, is a verb. We have to do something to try to turn the tide on the destruction of our wilderness. John also returned from a recent business trip to Asia with similar sentiments. “A reality check,” he called it. Trail Running is probably one of the sports that one can practice in the wilderness areas that has the lowest impact on its surrounds, but we still need to be fastidious when it comes to considering our impact on the environments we run in and be very cognisance of the privilege
Photo > Jacques Marais
I saw landscapes changing in the few months between scouting trips and observed man’s incredible thirst for progress was causing these changes. The nature of the changes unsettled me and left me feeling progress needs to be redefined.
Mark Collins briefs the media on the Land Rover G4 Challenge SA Selections Lesotho April 2012/May 2012
Trail Running In Stereo
Trail Running In Stereo
Pioneering the Ultra Words > Ian Corless
avid Horton is a modern day legend of ultra running. A professor of Exercise Science, he started running back in the 1977. He got the bug and one thing led to another… before he knew it he was running ultras. Looking back now, he created and laid the foundations for modern day ultra running with other pioneers such as Gordy Aisnsleigh, creator of the iconic Western States. Fiercely competitive, David has finished over 100 ultras and won something in the region of forty percent of them. In some ways, one may almost think that the running element of the film ‘Forest Gump’ was almost partly created on the life of David Horton. He loves to push himself to the extremes of physical endurance. As a co worker at Liberty University once said, “…you don’t have a lot of drive, you are driven!” In 1991 he set a record on the Appalachian Trail covering 2160 miles in 52 days. He placed 3rd overall in the 1995 Trans American Foot Race covering 2906 miles from one side of America to the other in 64 days. He did go on to say that after this race he never quite got his speed back, the continual pounding on the road for repeated days had taken something out of him. In 2001 he became along with Blake Woods one of the
few finishers of the infamous Barkley Marathon that covers 100 miles over five twenty mile loops in tough, gnarly, rutted and almost un-runnable terrain. It is renowned as one of the toughest races. In it’s history only a handful of people have arrived back at the finish within the 60-hour cut off time, In 2006 he ran and set a record on the Pacific Crest Trail covering 2700 miles. This was documented in the JB Benna film ‘The Runner’. The route zigzags its way from Mexico to Canada and has the greatest elevation changes of any of Americas National Scenic Trails. It has varied terrain from scorching deserts to rain forests. David ran some 44 miles a day for 66 days. In 2010 after feeling a ‘twinge’ within his knee he has now undergone knee surgery and is no longer able to run. Is he upset that he can no longer run? I am sure he is, but with his fighting spirit he won’t sit down and give in. In 2011 he entered the Tour Divide Mountain Bike Race covering 2745 miles starting in Banff going to Antelope Well. He already has projects lined up for 2012 and a return to the Tour Divide in future years. Without doubt he is an icon in the ultra running world. Not always liked and somewhat controversial, he continues to push his own limits and the limits of those around him.
Our interview with David Horton, along with loads more, can be found in Episode 4 of Talk Ultra. Click Here.
About Talk Ultra Created in the mind of Ian Corless and co-host, Ian Sharman. The first edition of Talk Ultra was released in January 2012 and is one of the Marathon Talk family of podcasts. Our vision? To create a podcast with a magazine feel that covers world events with an emphasis on the United Kingdom, United States, South Africa and the Southern Hemisphere ultra running scene. Each show has varied content including news, results, races, a key interview, a ‘Meltzer Moment’ with ultra runner Karl Meltzer and ’15 minutes of fame’ where we allow our listeners the opportunity to be on the show. For more information and to view some of their latest episodes, head to www.talkultra.com
April 2012/May 2012
MINIMALISM DEFINED Words > Katie DeSplinter
Likely you’re in one of two camps: either professing deep love akin to Immaculate Conception, or vile abhorrence to a degree to which you’ve previously never known. Either way, I’d like to blow your mind a bit and suggest that it all has way less to do with shoes (or lack thereof ) and instead, is entirely based upon a concept that has been around fundamentally forever. Accordingly, let’s get back to the basics on what this whole “minimalism” thing actually is. Well… it’s just that, actually. Back to the basics, and nothing more. Minimalism, by definition, is “a style or technique that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity.” Notice that doesn’t say anything about drop, weight, stack height or weird looking toe compartments. It’s also not a new idea. Minimalists have been around for ages in all walks of life, including trail running. You know them. I know them. Whether or not you’ve considered the term, maybe you’re one yourself. On one hand, every circle has the guy who’s always prepared for anything and everything. He carries a 70 oz. bladder and two handhelds, a waterproof jacket, twice as much food as he could ever eat and a can of bear spray. And that’s just for a five-mile run in the city. Then you’ve got the guy who, despite the weather, is always dressed in nothing but a pair of shorts with his 3 oz .windbreaker tucked in his shorts, a few gels in his hand and will either drink all of his bottle at the exact perfect time or die of dehydration. Neither is wrong or right – they’re just two different types of runners who happen to irk each other incessantly. Minimalism, as a concept, has been “trending” for many years now in everything from diet to modern medicine to anti-conservative clothing choices. Take food for example. 2000 years ago, people subsisted April 2012/May 2012
primarily on plants straight from the ground to sustain health – ingredient list of one. Over the years, our basic staples have been processed, modified and even put into pills and potions, but unsurprisingly, these days all signs are pointing to getting back to the earth. Admitting that the technology had adverse reactions, and taking a few steps back – not in defeat, but as a learning from an experiment we’ve been conducting. Or how about modern medicine? Every day we hear another story of a drug made to treat symptoms, often quite effectively, having adverse effects on overall health in the long run. The call is to get back to the source of the problem. Similarly, the highly engineered shoe we’ve arrived at today has often been very effective at allowing runners to move faster and harder with less immediate pain. It’s changed our strides to seemingly allow us to run “better,” but at what cost to our longevity?
But it’s also nothing less. Perhaps you’re still reading this, and perhaps you’re even agreeing that the aforementioned topics are all fine and well. But when it comes to minimalist shoes, you’re still staunchly opposed.. “Those shoes just don’t work,” you say. “I like light shoes and all, but this is as low as I can go; otherwise I start having problems.” Guess what? You’re a minimalist then. If you’re wearing the absolute least amount of drop, cushion, tread, etc. that you need – nothing more, nothing less – then you’re upholding the very principle of which we’re discussing. Hate (secretly love) to break it to you. Even self-defined minimalists need different tools for different jobs. Barefoot may be fine for the beach or the grass, but a Five Fingers-type shoe may be needed for protection during a short run on the road. A rock plate, outsole and durable upper may be desired for
trails and a little drop and cushion may be added for long runs on the hard pavement. For many, an entirely different shoe is required for a 10 mile versus a 100 mile run. In all cases, regardless of the relative size, weight, drop and design, both shoes are minimal.
So, why consider it? Humans love progress. We’re addicted to it. It’s what drives us to constantly seek knowledge, to excel at our jobs and ultimately, to compete in our beloved sport. But every progression requires acknowledgement of when we may have gone too far. When we’ve over trained, when we’ve overstepped our boundaries, when we’ve taken a little too much. And sometimes any additional progress requires taking a look back at when things were working and determining what may have spurred a divergent route. Humans also love immediacy. We want what we want and we want it now – and in this day and age, most of the time we can get it. But just as it took our bodies years and years of changing our stride and adapting to
the type of shoes we are wearing now, so will it take to adapt to wearing something entirely different, should we choose to do so. The benefits of switching to “less” of shoe will likely not be immediate and a gradual transition is an absolute necessity. Jumping headfirst rarely works with anything in life without drastic repercussions, and such is definitely the case here. Unless the concept of minimalism is adopted wholly for what it is, the benefits will likely be few and far between. Maximists seeking minimal shoes often see it as a fad because they treat it as one. These shoes are the next thing they can acquire to improve their lives, but unfortunately, they don’t see them for what they really are. A tool. A highly specified tool that requires a much larger understanding and willingness to take a few steps back in order to eventually progress. So, if you’re still open, take those steps. Define who you are and what you want in life – then take a look at your running. Lastly and only lastly, look down to your feet.
Interested in learning more of the specifics on minimalism as it pertains to your feet, and ultimately what you put them in? Check out TrailRunnerNation’s exclusive interview with Dr. Mark Cucuzzella – accomplished runner, race director, family physician, Associate Professor at West Virginia University School of Medicine and owner of Two Rivers Treads, a Center for Natural Running and Walking. He’ll break down all those buzz words: proprioception, cadence, pronation, drop and the likes, and give you the knowledge to use them to your discretion in enjoying the trails efficiently and injury-free.
Katie DeSplinter is an accomplished ultramarathoner, writer and is very good at making soup. She can be found on the trails of the San Gabriel mountains outside of Los Angeles, CA and runs for New Balance.
April 2012/May 2012
Single Track Mind
k c a r T Single
n a g a n a l F n i v e K y B
of life. Never pleasant,
period of disbelief and total despair
sweeps over you and instinctively
(especially if you pull a
you turn to dear friends for support
groin muscle) and they often take
â€“ in my case the physio. This is
longer to get over than you initially
followed by a short course of drugs
thought. Picking up an injury when
(anti-inflammatory of course), a tub
training for a big race is like having
of ice cream (on the affected area)
that girl or guy you fell head over
and dose of self pity. Naturally you
heels for, turn around and drop you
look to blame someone or something
like a ton of lead.
for the misfortune, analyzing every
Fis Photo> Chris
moment over the past weeks that
this”. You are no different from any
might have led to this catastrophic
other athlete, picking up injuries
event unfolding, only to discover
is part of a runner’s life, it’s how
that you are the idiot that brought
often and severe it happens that
this pain upon yourself.
Did you over train and suffocate
your body of the ability to recover
body happened over a tightening
and build on what is already there?
Did you go too fast too soon, and
me binning my old shoes out of
ignore the plea to “take it slowly;
it’s been a while since I have done
sports store for some retail therapy.
break which and
my in local
Injuries and Ex’s One new pair of extra bright shiny
unexpectedly in a night club. It’s a
shoes later, I limped out of the
true cocktail of emotions from love,
store feeling a bit better about life,
despair, anger, to downright hatred.
but none the fitter. Even though
Even worse is catching a glimpse of
the statistics show that running
a fellow trail runner kicking up dust
on fine piece of single track. It’s like
injury prevention, a new pair that
watching that ex kiss some random
promises PB’s and more grip on the
person right in front of you. I just
trails, is good for the mental state,
hope I don’t see my best friend
the key to bouncing back.
running all over that trail anytime
soon. For the time being however I am my
I am always in search of a quick fix
running shoes, as they sit there
and I thought about cutting my leg
obediently looking up at me with
off and strapping a roller skate to
my stump, but to be honest electric
take them back and just give it one
saws are way over priced and I have
more chance. Thank goodness for
already dropped a small fortune on
the emotional support and constant
physio bills. As with most things in
nagging from my physio to stay
life, shortcuts are often too easy to
be true and just like that kryptonite
no matter how pretty they look.
ex, you eventually get over the
injury hit the trail and before you
yoga group therapy classes as I
know it you’re back on form, having
coax the hamstring out of its state
a great time with a new trail you
of hyper tension and back onto the
have just discovered.
Remember, always use
protection...and stretch! At the moment, looking up at the trails on Table Mountain is a bit like
Remember, always use protection...and stretch!
Personal bio Born and bred in Cape Town, I spent my university career maximising the holidays travelling Africa quenching my thirst for adventure. After that, I took a quick gap year to Whistler-Canada for some more adventure and now find myself back in CT, working away at making millions. I am by no means a specialist at any sport, in fact one my inner personal debates, is that I try compete in too many sports & disciplines, so I end up not been able to focus enough on one discipline to get any good at it. However, the variation keeps me interested and prevents serious adventure FOMO (Fear of missing out), when I see other people taking on extraordinary adventures. My number one entry on my bucket list was trekking to base camp Everest in 2008 and seeing Everest with my own eyes - mind blowing!!! Team Kelfords Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/groups/109748955710607/ Blog: www.off-the-hook.co.za
April 2012/May 2012
5 - 9 May / 80 km / Teams: Pairs
www.wildtrails.co.za Run wild across empty beaches and rugged headlands following the paths of sure-footed Ngunis as your trail. On the 3 day Jikeleza Jog from Mazeppa to Cintsa, participants will cover an average distance of 21 - 30km/day. SuďŹƒcient distance for racing teams to break a sweat and apply some tactics, it also oďŹ€ers a fair but manageable challenge to social joggers looking to enter a multi-day event that will provide an unforgettable experience.
Price: R4400/per person Includes: 4 Nights Accommodation & all meals Transfers to & from EL Airport / Vehicles Daily luggage transfers Category & Lucky Draw Prizes Quality event garment for all entrants
Contact: Sarah Drew 084 240 7277 / email@example.com / www.wildtrails.co.za
Published on Mar 27, 2012
Look forward to an issue packed with features including a historical look at one of the world's greatest trail running prizes, The Western S...