JUNE / JULY ISSUE 2011
Angelique Tostee relives the
Getting To Grips With Recovery Iâ€™ve got that
Wandering Fever Meet the film makers behind the soon to be released Ryan Sandes Documentary
Gear review special
Through the lens Environmental Gear Health & Fitness Go Trail Exclusive On the cover / Angelique Tostee at the 2011 Atacama Crossing, Chile. Picture: Zandy Mangold www.zandymangoldnyc.com
I’m constantly amazed at the stories I hear
trail running through their own interpretation.
daily of the boundaries that are being pushed
This issue we explore a few alternative
by human beings. A day doesn’t go by when
dimensions within the sport, meeting the
some kind of record has been broken or an
people who are ultimately the ones shaping
aspiring athlete has planned some kind of
trail running and making it the dynamic
ultra-ultra-ultra distance run to somewhere.
expression of life that it is. You’ll get to meet
It’s constantly refreshing to know that as
Angelique Tostee, a woman who recently ran
individuals, we’re always looking for new
her first ever 4 Deserts race, and while doing
challenges that will see our own spirit tested
so came second in the women’s category.
to the limit. No matter what those personal
In this captivating and inspirational journey,
goals might be, it’s really only about the
you’ll find yourself running alongside her as
spirit of achievement that gives these stories
she relives her adventure in the desert. We
their depth. It doesn’t have to be a 250-mile
also take you in-depth behind the scenes of a
mammoth across the desert, or a 100-mile
soon to be released trail running documentary
high altitude killer, it’s about each and every
as we meet the masterminds of one man’s
one of us who make our own destiny that
epic journey. As Ryan Sandes continues to
matters. Fear of the unknown is the greatest
dominate on the world trail running stage, get
fear of all, one of the drivers behind our
to know how an independent film company
yearning for accomplishment. But it seems
from Cape Town, South Africa, are setting
that the overall satisfaction comes not only
themselves up to push the boundaries of
from the final achievement, but also from
human achievement through the visual
the effort we make to follow our hearts to
interpretation that is Wandering Fever.
go the distance. It is this force that seems to eliminate our fears and push us right up until
All of this and more in the June/July issue of
the very end.
Go Trail magazine.
In the June/July issue of Go Trail magazine,
Keep on running!!!
we continue to bring you stories of people who have pushed their own boundaries, men and women who represent the spirit of
James Hallett | Editor
Above Image / The Editor
enjoying getting to the top of Llundudno Ravine near Hout bay in Cape Town.
Graphic Design / Simphiwe
Page 46 - Wild Lesotho A through-the-lens experience of the inaugural Lesotho Wild Run held earlier this year. Kelvin Trautman once again captures the essence of pure mountain running through these provocative images.
Page 12 - Athlete Profile For editorial related enquiries / firstname.lastname@example.org For design related enquiries / email@example.com
We meet up with Michael Bailey, a regular trail racer from the Western Cape in South Africa, as we chat to him about his trail running endeavours and what inspires him the most.
Page 76 - Get the “FRACK” outta here The Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa (WESSA) shed some much needed light on how searching for gas in the Karoo, one of South Africa’s most sensitive ecosystems, will have a negative impact on a place that the locals hold so closely to their hearts. June / July 2011
June / July 2011
Go Trail Exclusive
hat do you get when you fly 18 of the top trail and mountain runners from around the world to the South of France for 7 days in early April? Salomon Advanced week of course. Now in itâ€™s fourth consecutive year, this week long testing period for the folks over at Salomon is an opportunity to listen to their International Team athletes and get inside their heads as they test out some of the prototype gear on offer from the Salomon research and development (R&D) team. Comprising of athletes from countries that include Spain, Germany, Russia and America, athletes are expected to try out footwear, apparel and backpacks to name just a few of the gear items
June / July 2011
being tested. Long sessions out on the trails, as well as focus groups and one-on-one meetings, give the R&D team a better understanding of what adjustments or complete changes are necessary in producing quality trail running gear. In two separate interviews, we caught up with Salomon Marketing Manager Greg Vollet as well as Salomon International Team member Ryan Sandes for an inside look into what goes on at Salomon Advanced week.
June / July 2011
GV: After training with this group during the week, we had organised a Scuba session as an opportunity for everyone to have a bit of fun all together! From the Friday to the Sunday, it’s more about relaxing. The team also had lunch in a primary school with kids just before the children’s race during the afternoon! It was an event with 500 kids running, and all of the Salomon Team members were there for some support and a bit of social running with all the groups, it was amazing! Each class won a dedicated poster from all our athletes! It was really nice to see the kids reactions running beside pro athletes! During the weekend, some of the athletes participated in Go Trail (GT): The 2011 Salomon Advanced week has
a staged race (2 x 25km or 2 x 45km) as a good training
come and gone. Tell us a little bit more about this year’s
session. It’s not a goal in our season, it’s just the opportunity
event and what was different to the last three years gone
to run good mileage at the start of the season, with good
weather and technical trails. It’s also an opportunity to meet the media who are always interesting to see all our
Greg Vollet (GV): The Advanced Week this year was open
International Athletes at once!!
to 18 athletes from USA, France, UK, New Zealand, Spain, Germany, South Africa, Austria, Italy and Russia. They all
One of the most important topics of the week is also to
had a busy week with a lot of good training (almost 50km/
organize photo and video shoots with each athlete.
day!) as well as product testing during the day.
All the contents are then available for all the media during the year. We also arrange for interviews with various media
During the evening, we had focus groups giving us the
opportunity to discuss products for 2013-2014. It’s a privileged moment between our Research and Development (R&D) department and our world best athletes. It’s also
GT: What kind of a support team do you have present at
an opportunity to build our Salomon Family/Spirit with this
Advanced Week to help out with all the logistics of being
amazing team! The pleasure is the most important for
with the runners, gear testing, meetings etc?
gaining good, positive results, so we use this week also for having fun and creating a big cohesion between all the
GV: 18 Athletes / 9 Brand Ambassadors who are the
relay with the media from 9 different countries / Footwear department / Apparel department / Bags department / Glasses department / Podiatric / Physio / Technician
GT: With some of the top trail and mountain runners in the world present at Advanced Week each year, including
There were almost 80 people present at this year’s
South Africa’s Ryan Sandes, what are some of the primary
objectives of the week and what is it that you hope to get out of the athletes while they are there?
GT: Obviously gear testing is a major part of the entire week. Do you offer all the runners the same opportunity to
GV: With all the athletes, we share the trail running vision
try out everything new, or are there specific athletes who’ll
together to enable us to look more closely at our next
be responsible for giving you feedback on specific gear?
product range. The R&D department is always present
June / July 2011
to assist with the athlete’s needs. We call this our S-LAB
GV: Yes, this is a specificity of the Advanced Week, all
process. All our S-LAB products are developed with and
the athletes test 100% of all our prototypes. The more
for the athletes.
feedback we receive, the more justified the process is.
GT: Besides gear testing, what are some of the other
GT: This year you hosted Advanced Week in Provence,
activities on the itinerary that the athletes are required to
France. Why France and tell us a little bit more about the
do while there?
host venue, the area etc.
GV: The Advanced Week is in south of France for the
a new test with the athletes and then only do we approve
good weather at this time of the year, for the landscape
the final choice.
(important for our photo-shoot and video-shoot), but also because itâ€™s not so far from our company. So many people
GT: Salomon is clearly dedicated to producing high quality
are coming from Salomon HQ, and itâ€™s easier for the
products for the trail running market. With that in mind,
moment to organize it in France.
what are some of the brand characteristics that you as the Marketing Manager emphasise when promoting the
GT: We understand that Kilian Jornet gives your design
team a lot of personal input about shoes and other pieces of equipment. How important is it for Salomon to listen to
We listen to the athletes and answer their needs that are
their team runners and make changes or design innovations
our best promotion! S-LAB range is our top of the range,
that suit the needs of all trail runners from beginners to pro
but all the other products in the range are associated with
our best technology. So, our S-LAB process benefits all the range from the beginner to the top Athlete.
GV: The S-LAB products answer the top trail runners needs. All our S-LAB products respect the Athletes needs:
GT: And finally, we know youâ€™re an avid trail runner yourself.
Light / Comfort / Capacity. Kilian does help us a lot on the
When will be seeing you in South Africa to compete in one
shoes but Ryan helps us a lot for developing our backpack
of the Salomon events here?
range. Ryan is a very good backpack ambassador for us. GV: I really want to run in your country, so I will be realizing GT: Speaking of design, tell us a little bit more about the
a dream soon when I will come to compete in a race on
concept and design process of producing Salomon gear.
Table Mountain in September with the team (Kilian,
Or is that a tightly kept trade secret?
Jonathan, Ricky, Laetitia and Anna). Will be amazing, I cant wait!!
GV: After talking with our athletes, the designers work on various different projects. We then get together again for
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Go Trail (GT): What does it mean to you to get on a plane
together we get to chat and catch up. The team of Salomon
bound for France each year to attend Salomon’s Advanced
athletes is quite a close knit group and it is always great
to catch up and see what they have been up to the past year.
Ryan Sandes (RS): It’s always very exciting as I get to test all the latest Salomon shoes and apparel. It is also a
GT: We saw a couple of your photo’s taken while out
great opportunity to catch up with the rest of the Salomon
exploring the trails around Annecy Lake. What’s the culture
of trail running like in France?
GT: Tell us a little bit more about your role with Salomon
RS: I was in Annecy the week before Advance Week
International and more specifically what’s required of
and got to run a few trails around there. They are really
you as an individual when you get to Advanced week in
beautiful but go up and up and up…
France. RS: The athletes test all the latest apparel & footwear and then give their feedback on what they like and any improvements that need to be made. We also have a number of sit down discussions and do a few photo’s shoots etc. The main role of Advance Week is to get the athletes feedback on the new proposed products. GT: This is your second Salomon Advanced week. What was different this year compared to last year? RS: Nothing much was different, only this year we were in the South of France along this coast which was really beautiful. GT: We heard you competed in a road race while you were GT: When you’re there, you’re part of group of top trail
over there and came 3rd. What was it like going back to
runners from around the world. Is there ever an opportunity
racing on a surface that for you was pretty much where it
where you get the chance to just interact with them one on
all began those few years ago back in Knysna?
one and learn a few new things, or gain some insight from their experiences?
RS: Hahahaha…It was quite a small race in the countryside and a good speed session. There was one or two km of
RS: We have quite a lot of free time and when running
June / July 2011
GT: Out of all the athletes who participate in Advanced
are some really cool new products that will hit the shelves
Week, who do you get on well with the most, and why do
you think that is? GT: And finally, what’s French food like? RS: To be honest I think all the athletes got on really well with each other…there is a bit of a language barrier but I
RS: My favourite is Nutella (chocolate spread) with a
am working on my Spanish and French
little bit of bread for breakfast. I love chocolate so I was in heaven. French food is great but can be quite heavy,
GT: Were there any new pieces of gear you tested out that
luckily we ran lot’s so I did not put on any weight.
left you thinking wow, or are those trade secrets for now? RS: Hahaha…they are trade secrets for now but there
June / July 2011
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ichael was born in George in the southern Cape, which is where he spent most of his childhood growing up. It was not until Grey High School in Port Elizabeth when his running career began, but having represented the cross-country team as well as competing in the 1500m and 3000m long distance events at the school’s athletics day, it’s no wonder that Michael continues today on his running path. “My coach at Grey was a good marathon runner. He gave us lots of good advice and trained us extremely well.” In 2003 he decided to stop all other sports and take on running more full time. Spending his days in the middle of the Outeniqua Mountains was the perfect training ground and his discovery of trail running simply seemed like a natural progression. “I found trail running a perfect alternative to road running, and being passionate about running on all types of surfaces, I combine road, trail and cross country running into my training.” After having moved to Cape Town at the beginning of 2008, he began participating more in trail running events simply because the conditions there are so conducive to it. “I competed in the Hout Bay Trail Challenge in 2008, which was for me one of my more memorable trail running experiences as the mountains here were all new to me and I had not run at all on the trails there. I remember running with William Robinson up the mountain on the first leg of the race and I didn’t want to overtake him because I was worried I would loose my way. It was an awesome experience being out on the mountains around Cape Town.” In 2010, Michael teamed up with Warren Petterson for the African X Trail Run, a multi-stage event in Kleinmond in the Western Cape. It seemed that Warren was a huge influence in the way Michael approached his training and preparation for this event as the two later went on to claim the victory. “I thoroughly enjoyed competing in this event with him. Warren has had a big influence in my running and has given me lots of advice for my own running.” Michael not only competes on the local stage, but internationally as well, having taken on the Red Bull Dolomitenmann in Austria. As tough as this race is (because you climb from 800m to 2300m!) Michael is an even tougher trail runner and we felt that it would be great to learn a bit more about how Michael views trail running and what it means him.
Go Trail (GT): What are some of the things that personally motivate you to get out there and explore more through trail running? Michael Bailey (MB): I love running. When I look back at my running career so far, all I remember are the good times whether it was during training or racing. I think this is what keeps me wanting to come back and keep on running. Even after recovering from a knee injury, I still have just as much passion and determination to carry on. Itâ€™s become part of my lifestyle. I think trail running is excellent for training for road races. Even the top roadrunners in the world train on the trails because it forces you to use different muscle groups and the surface is never the same. GT: With such an incredible growth of trail running in South Africa at the moment, what are some of the integral aspects you would highlight if talking to a group of new comers to the sport? MB: I think the most important aspect for a new comer is that they must enjoy it. I think the best way to enjoy it is to start slowly and find a group of runners with the same goal in mind or who are also new comers to the sport. I find it easier to train in a group. So I would definitely find a running group with the similar goals in mind, and make a point of meeting at certain times during the week. This way you will stay motivated and more importantly, enjoy it more. GT: Is there any specific element to the sport that defines the way you run? MB: I like to look up at other runners that have run better times than me. I like to think that if they can do it, so can I. I like to adopt that attitude and use that mental approach. I try different techniques to keep me fit and motivated. But athletes are different and it is up to the individual runner to find out what works for them. But definitely get some advice from someone to get you running in the right direction! GT: Competing in many events in and around the Western Cape as well as South Africa, including longer staged events, what are some of the preparation techniques you adopt when gearing up to race? MB: Depending on the distance of the race, I always try have my longest training run 3 weeks before the event. But the distance of my long run depends on the distance of the race. I also use gels and sports drinks during training to test them because you donâ€™t know how your body will respond to new things on race day. You want to be well prepared before race day.
Michael revelling in the tough conditions at the Red Bull Dolomitenmann in Austria June / July 2011
I also make sure I eat well and rest between my training runs. I eat some form of protein everyday as well as carbs and fruit. I try eat as much fresh food as possible. I use a sports supplement after hard workouts and long training runs because this boots your recovery. But I still prefer fresh foods. Rest is very important. If you train of tired legs without having rested well since your previous workout, you are more than likely going to develop an injury as a result of fatigued muscles.
MB: I would like to compete in all the local trail races again this year if it fits into my training. I like to use trail running as part of my training program building up to a race. GT: If someone had to find Michael Baileys’ running pack, and take a peek inside, what would they find? MB: Definitely jelly babies! And obviously the normal things like water, food, windbreaker etc.
So I am very careful about what I eat and recovery.
GT: And lastly. In one sentence, what does trail running mean to you?
GT: If you had to list your current top 3 trail races to compete in what would they be and why?
Trail running is the best way to get out and enjoy the outdoors and nature around you.
MB:The Pronutro African X Trail Run - This is one of the best multi-stage trail runs I’ve done and it is located in some of the best trail running environments in the Western Cape, South Africa. The Red Bull Dolomitenmann (Austria) - This is the toughest race I’ve done! You need to prepare well for this race because the climbing from 800m to 2300m is the toughest challenge of all. Fishermans Trail Challenge - I like this race because there are some fast sections and some technical sections. It’s a really great event to race. GT: If you had to describe your perfect trail run, where would it be and what kind of terrain would you want to encounter along the way? MB: My perfect trail run would probably be the Otter Trail run in the Garden Route because of the beautiful views and unspoilt environment. But I am more of a faster type of runner so I would prefer a trail run that has parts where I can pick up the pace. It must have technical sections to test your skill and strength as well, but if I think of the Fishermans trail run, there are quite a few sections where you can challenge others with endurance and pace on the fast sections, as well as skill and strength on the technical sections. I think a perfect trail run should be long enough to include fast, flat sections as well as technical sections. I’m not really a fan of rock climbing or rock hoping. I don’t think that is running. The technical sections can be rocky or sandy or even river crossings, but it must be run-able. I ran the Surfers Challenge last year in East London. This is another endurance trail run that I think is close to a perfect trail run. GT: Do you have your sites set on any specific goals or objectives in trail running in the near future (races you would like to compete in, places you’d like to go)? June / July 2011
Michael (right) enjoying some quality time with friends as he relaxes between races June / July 2011
June / July 2011
Go Trail Exclusive
rying to work out where or how to start this story sometimes proves almost as challenging as the race itself! There is just so much to share, I don’t always know where to begin, what to skip out on or how to minimise my enthusiasm and excitement! Taking on the Atacama Desert Crossing has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life for so many reasons. The adventures leading up to the race took me on many paths from being lucky enough to meet incredibly inspiring people who would support and encourage me along the way, to the bumps of learning to deal with challenges prior to the race, through the highs and low’s ahead of the race, and then the experiences along the way! It has been action and adventure packed from the get-go! I started conceptualising the idea to do the Atacama Desert Crossing around May 2010, when good fortune brought me the opportunity to take part in the African X race, in a fully sponsored non-competitive team. The entry came at the last minute, just 3 days before the race when a friend had to pull out due to injury. It was not something I should have been doing as it was only 2 weeks after IronMan but I just had this absolutely compelling urge to do the race. I soon found out why as it held many opportunities, including a very distinct turning point, when, while running through the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, I decided it was time for a big audacious adventure out in nature in a new country; taking what I love most, trail running and travelling, on a new adventure. As winter approached, I investigated various travel adventures options, including Marathon des Sables. But somehow Ryan Sandes’ races with 4Deserts kept popping up everywhere I looked. I started looking into the 4Desert races and within minutes stumbled across the Atacama Desert Crossing. It captured my attention from the moment I saw the pictures, it just looked incredible. June / July 2011
The attraction might have had something to do with a great passion for the Himalaya and the memories I have of fantastic adventures there. The idea of dry, barren landscapes at altitude were not too daunting. I remembered how stunning the Himalaya regions are and how much I had learnt about dealing with altitude from our Tibetan guide. I was sold; this was what I wanted to do. A very abrupt reality check followed shortly reminding me of two key critical components required for the race... money and stage running experience! Would my background in sport be sufficient to get me to the end of the race in San Pedro d’Atcama? At $3300 for the entry alone, with several flights required to a remote destination in northern Chile, this was not going to be a cheap undertaking. But for those that know me, too often I look at the world through rose-tinted glasses believing that it is possible. Trying to find out whether I had enough experience to take on this race proved challenging as not many South Africans have done this race. On a whim one Saturday afternoon I decided to email Ryan Sandes to see if he could give me a little insight. I was grateful for his speedy response and bout of positivity with a suggested approach to training for the race. That was all I needed to hear, the rest I would make happen! I managed to get enough money together to pay the deposit, and within days I was registered for the event. At that time, the first South African entered into the race for 2011. 7 months felt like forever and being in the throes of the Cape winter, training had new challenges. I decided to continue cross training focusing on road riding, something I had never taken the time to do, and which had been a shortcoming for me in the IronMan events I had taken part in as I tended to always opt for mountain biking. I also managed to build my trail running on the weekends running with various friends on and around Table Mountain.
Everything seemed to be going well with no major issues until early November when I had a crash on my mountain bike 2 hours into Day 1 of Wines2Whales mountain bike race. It was a frightening setback as I faced the consequences of a torn quad muscle with a massive haematoma, which would require a minimum of 7 weeks recovery. The reality check was devastating. I had paid for my Atacama entry, managed to secure sponsors to support me, had come so far in my preparations, what next? I decided that this incident would not deter me and that I would give my body the time required to heal properly, with no possible risk of long term damage, and then train for the Atacama to the best of my ability. I was lucky as I had a good base of training from the previous year to fall back on but for someone who likes to prepare properly, probably too well on many occasions, this was something new for me.
I was also very fortunate to find myself surrounded by incredible support and wisdom from the friends, athletes and medical support. Every time I started to falter, something or someone would come along with a message or inspiration. Lawrence van Lingen helped me with a recovery plan and always kept me positive and motivated. I was grateful when read this signs of wanting to go and train and would encourage me to stick with the rehab plan. For quite some time this entailed running in the pool at the gym. Can you imagine the irony of training for the Atacama Desert Crossing running in the water? I was also fortunate enough to spend New Yearâ€™s with Braam Malherbe and left Beaverlac fired up and ready to take on the Atacama Desert Crossing. Whatâ€™s 7 days and 250km compared with 3 months and over 4000km? Itâ€™s all about mindset and motivation that will get you through. The recovery felt frustratingly slow, especially as time was marching by. I remember wanting to run the Ryans x2 Vida Coffee run in December but realised I was in no way ready as I was still on walk-run phase of rehab. The Boxing Day Manor House 15km trail run, one of my favourite races, came and went, with the reality that I had just over 2 months to train for the Atacama. From the end of December I was able to pick up my running, and realised that swimming and running in the pool had helped my fitness tick over. I was surprised at how quickly my body responded to the training, learning an invaluable lesson about how important rest is for the body. Over 6 weeks I managed to build up running, taking it to new levels, going further and longer over weekly training periods but with a different approach. June / July 2011
I focused on quality runs rather than quantity. I never took any of my runs over 28km, running on average for 3 to 4 hours in the mountains and never more than 2 hours at a time on the road. This approached seemed to be working well as I was getting stronger. But time flew by so quickly and before I knew it, it was midFebruary and it was time to head off to South America. I was beyond anxious about the amount of training I had done and the audacious goal that lay ahead of me. I was desperate for one more 4 week cycle of training, but there was no time for that. I had no option but to go out there and just give it my best. That did nothing to help the waves of emotions and the absolute fear that I felt. I had never run more than 44km and most certainly had never attempted anything like 75km after 4 days of marathons! I am quite certain I drove my friends crazy with my up’s and down’s! As I boarded the plane to South America, all the fear managed to subside for a while and the excitement of new travel adventures set in. For a long time I have been wanting to travel to Bolivia, and on signing up for the race I was equally excited at the opportunity to visit the salt pans and high altitude lakes. Travelling across Bolivia was incredible but the altitude tough going. It definitely took it’s toll and after spending several days at Lake Titicaca, I welcomed the reprieve of dense sea air and warm sunshine. I was heading to the famous surfing town of Arica, Chile, just 20km from the Peruvian border. One of the greatest concerns for me was all the food that I was carrying for the race. Chile has very strict policies on bringing in food products with hefty fines in US$ if you are caught items that have not been declared. I just did not want to have my food confiscated, particularly as I had worked out so precisely all the food items that I needed on the race. The plane ride from Bolivia was an experience I don’t think I will ever forget! I remember the relief of leaving the cold and high altitude and the excitement of surfer’s paradise in Arica. As we crossed the Andes I noticed the desert and dunes, and they went on and on and on! Wow! My heart rate was immediately elevated! Whew, sand dunes all the way to the coast, wow and pretty high sand dunes at that. We got off the plane only to be greeted by this intense heat. My mind was going crazy, thinking “what on earth have I got myself into?” The first challenge now was how to deal with customs. Do I declare and face the chance of having food confiscated, do I just try my luck? Somehow I made it through the sniffer dogs, extensive x-ray machines without even having my bags searched. It seemed that there were other greater concerns at this port, which has become renown for drug smuggling. I was greatly relieved. The travel plans that had become a little chaotic seemed to work out well but the feeling of fear that I felt on arriving at Arica stayed with me until I arrived in Calama, the last flight and from where I
June / July 2011
would make my way by car to the start of the race in San Pedro d’Atacama, with all my bags in tow. Eventually late on 2 March, I arrived in the town of San Pedro d’Atacama going from staying in backpackers and hostels to a 5 star hotel. Bliss! The days leading up to the start of the race proved to be fun as I packed, unpacked and repacked my backpack, met fellow competitors and got to spend time wandering around this great town. I can highly recommend a visit there. The majestic snow-capped volcanoes with their cooler afternoon breeze seemed to have a calming effect and before I knew it I was at race briefing, ready to start the race. There are no words to describe the bus ride out into the desert or the feeling of arriving at that first camp and seeing all the tents and flags in this absolutely dramatic and stunning amphitheatre. I had been studying those videos for so long, to see and experience it all for myself, first hand just gave me goosebumps! And so the race began and the routine and structure of the days unfolded. Toilets, tents, hot water! Digging, diving and unpacking and packing my backpack trying to find things, the eternal lost and found. Mornings were freezing and I literally waited until the last possible moment to climb out of my sleeping bag and head out ready to start the race. It’s really hard to say which day was my best as each was so different and so beautiful but I think I liked Day 1 the most. It was just stunning running through terrain I had never seen before including a number of kilometres in a dried up ancient river bed. It was a strange adjustment running at such a slow pace with such a heavy pack. For all the training I did with my backpack, nothing quite prepares you for the shock on Day 1 running 35km with a 13kg pack on your back. Clearly I was a novice. Day 2 was equally spectacular, somewhat more challenging at 44km in distance, crossing a river over 20 times, climbing to the top of this ridge, descending down the most monster sand dune to running through endless sand and finally making our way to the salt lake, which would be our base camp for the night. I remember having to “vas-byt” a lot on the last 12km, which just felt like they were endless. I was so grateful to my Garmin that counted down the kilometres for me. Day 3 had this crazy start of 5kms of careful walking on crud or crusty salt coral crystals. It was madness and tough going on your mind as it took over 1 hour to get across the 5km stretch. What did the rest of the day have in store for us? The next 18km were hell as I felt my body going “hey, what’s going on here?” I’ve come to know that Day 3 is always the push-through day for me where I need to get my body use to what-ever I am doing. I decided to back off a little, and took a little of the pressure off myself. It seemed to work well and the rest of the day fell into place. I had no idea I would enjoy the new experience of the sand dunes that would be the latter part of the day.
By Day 4 I was starting to get my rhythm now realising what was working and what wasn’t. I wasn’t eating enough breakfast in the morning and the minute I added a little more food, my start to the day was so much better. By this stage I was feeling stronger, particularly having taken it a little easier the day before. Day 4 was also the day of the infamous 14km across the salt flats, although I have no idea why they call the crud flat as it is anything but flat! I decided to give it everything I have got and decided as far as possible, not to give up. A very simple but effective piece of advice I got from Lewis Pugh. Even when I slowed right down to a shuffle across the crunchy salt pans, I was determined not to give up. For the most part I just tried to keep myself focused and somewhat entertained. The bright white of the salt and baking heat can take its toll. It was definitely a day I did not spend much time taking in the sights but rather keeping my head down and plodding along. It’s really quite funny when I think back to how slowly I was running. In the beginning it is quite an adjustment as you want to go faster but are held back by this backpack. I always felt like the tortoise and the hare with the guys as I would slowly plod and they would head off faster but somehow by the end of the day, they were back in my sights. Before I knew it Day 5 had arrived. By this stage the race was taking its toll and already we had lost 3 competitors in our tent who had dropped out. Many people were limping around, food was becoming scarce and feet and backs were starting to look horrendous. Nahila, the leading lady had the most horrific chaffe on her back I think I have ever seen. We were all smelly and very skanky. My hair was a matted mess of note, and that seemed to be forming dreadlocks thanks to all the dust that was collecting in it. 5 days of wearing the same running clothes was definitely getting scary, as was the feeling that was brewing in my tummy ahead of the monster 75km that lay ahead of us the next day. The following morning I was up packed and ready way ahead of time. I think it was just the anticipation of the day and wanting to get started on the long journey. We had spent the night on the most spectacular salt lake but at altitude overnight the water gets so cold. It’s quite something as the smell of the fire combines with the sweaty smell of your clothes. I remember getting a whiff thinking “aaaii!” The day turned out to be incredible. Running with Nahila was just fantastic and such a privilege. We chatted so much and laughed. We took in the scenery and contemplated the massive sand dune that we watched for miles and slowly approached. At one point I had to stop us taking about our favourite meals, I felt like I was on an episode of Survivor and hadn’t eaten in a month! The landscapes were just something else, especially as we crossed the sand dune and onto what looked like Martian landscape, 40 something kilometres into the race. The next 15 were probably the hardest kilometres of the day for me. The heat really builds up in the early afternoon and the path just seemed endless.
June / July 2011
Finally we made our way through the dinner camp, well ahead of schedule. A quick refuel and preparation of a liquid meal for me, and I was ready to take on the journey home. Only one more checkpoint until base camp! The meal made the world of difference to me and within minutes I felt my body come alive again. I was feeling great, and strong, I was going to make it home by dark. For the last 20km Nahila and I counted down each kilometre. Our moggy brains meant that we miscalculated sometimes and missed a buzz on Garmin. As we entered the Valley of the Moon and approached quite a significant climb, we wondered about the torturous route planner! Up another sand dune and through these dramatic landscapes, and then the sight of Zandy, our official race photographer and we knew we could not be far from home. The sounds of the drums on the finish line just gave me goose bumps and as I crossed that finish line holding Nahila’s hand, I felt this huge sense of achievement! It felt like running down the red carpet at the end of the IronMan. I couldn’t believe our achievement! I had definitely kept my mind focused on the 75km and was so pleasantly surprised to hear that the last day was only 9km
June / July 2011
instead of the 16km that was in our race book. I think those 9km’s were probably the hardest kilometres of the entire race. I had thought that 9km would be so easy, a stroll home but I had underestimated the impact of the 75km’s and the lack of food. I barely had enough food to get me to the start of Day 7 and by that stage had lost a kilogram too many for normal body weight. I battled through the last 9km as I felt so faint but was still so determined to run with everyone and cross the finish line together. It was so exciting to come round the corner and into the town of San Pedro to be greeted by all the competitors, organisers and locals. It was a sight I had visualised so many times when preparing for the race, but nothing prepares you for the emotions felt on crossing the line and exceeding all your expectations for the race! What an experience! Memories and emotions that I keep with me for a very, very long time. I have no doubt in my mind that running, road running and trail running, is what I love the most but I am also quite acutely aware of the long term impacts of running. For now I enjoy cross training, traversing sports and disciplines, but always leaping at the opportunities for spending time in nature.
Go Trail (GT): Tell us a little bit more about where you were AT: I have quite varied background in sports events and born and how you grew up stage races where a lot of my stage racing experience has come from participating in mountain bike events. I enjoy Angelique Tostee (AT): I was born in Durban and grew up cross training, particularly mountain biking, where there is with parents that are both active and with passionate about the added benefit of strength and interval training with a the outdoors. I spent a lot of my teenage years horse riding little less wear and tear, as long as you can stay on your on the Natal south coast and, running and riding bicycles. mountain bike! As a family we had a very active and outdoor lifestyle. In terms of preparation for long distance and multi stage GT: To begin with let’s get a little bit more focussed on your events I like to focus on building volume in my training trail running and where it all began. What initially got you however in preparation for the Atacama Desert Race I into the trail running and where did it all begin? focused a lot more on quality not quantity. I have definitely learnt a lot about racing and events and have realised that AT: I started running when I was about 11years old. Growing it the racing is built on a strong base and that trying to add up in Durban with comrades and parents that both run, it is all that volume in 3 months prior to the race takes a big hard to resist the lure of running. For the brief time I was toll on your body. If you have a good base it is a lot easier at Durban Girls College, Colleen de Roek was our running to tap on volume where you can focus on quality training coach and we use to run with her in the mornings on the sessions. I also participate in a lot less races, particularly Berea before school. I only started trail running properly about with running, as the racing just takes too much out of your 3 years ago when I started taking part in the Fisherman’s body and out of your training in terms of the time required to Trail and Hout Bay races in the Cape. Prior to that I spent recover. So now I try to focus on just a few key races in the extensive time in the Cape mountains on my mountain bike year, and the rest of the time is focused o training – base so it just made sense for me to make the transition from or goal orientated. road running to trail running. For multi-stage racing focused training is crucial, as is GT: Through the years, what have been some of the goals specificity. I think I was quite lucky in the Atacama Desert you’ve focussed upon with your trail running? Race as on several days the terrain was very similar to our Cape mountain terrain, which just meant I was quite use to AT: I enjoy the Cape trail running events particularly running on loose and rocky terrain. Fisherman’s Trail, Hout Bay Challenge and African X. I am still looking forward to completing the full Hout Bay GT: What have been some of your more memorable Challenge! experiences in trail running, like places you’ve been, people you’ve run with? GT: When competing in longer distance trail events, as well as multi-staged races, what are some of the preparation AT: One of my most memorable experiences trail running steps you adopt and just how important is preparation for was probably on the African X event last year where very these types of events? fortuitously I met Songo Fipaza of songo.info, a sports
development charity. Through my interaction with him then, I came to know this great man and the amazing work that he does in the community of Kayamandi. As a result of this encounter and wanting to raise money for him through the Atacama Desert Crossing, I subsequently came to work for him! In saying that I also think that African X goes through some of our most beautiful countryside, with my favourite being the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens. GT: If you could choose one specific event in South Africa that you feel would be the ultimate race to win, which one would that be an why? AT: I am definitely more of an endurance athlete and enjoy stage racing. I think would have loved Cape Odyssey so can only hope that someone will introduce another Odyssey in South Africa again! GT: A favourite pre-event meal, do you have one? AT: I can’t say I have a specific pre-race meal but for the Atacama, in San Pedro, I my favourite pre-race meal was the stunning mushroom quinoa risotto from the Adobe Restaurant. GT: What advice would you give to someone starting out in trail running, or someone wanting to take their trail running up a few notches? AT: For someone starting out in trail running, I’d say go out there and have fun on the mountain, walk, run, jog but go out there and enjoy the trails. For someone wanting to take their trail running up a few notches, I’d say find a coach who can help you develop a plan to incrementally increase your running to take it up those few notches. Having a mentor also really helps, someone who gets to know you and can share advice on training and racing. GT: Describe your perfect 15km trail run. Where would it be, who would it be with and what terrain would it be? June / July 2011
AT: I have a favourite run from home that entails running up on to Signal Hill from the Seapoint side, running up to the top of the ridge, down and around the base of Lions Head, to the Glen, on to Table Mountain, along the Pipe Track, to the end and back home again. Thatâ€™s roughly around 25km, a shorter version would skip out the Pipe Track but I do love that feeling of being tired from a good long run, and coming around the corner under Lions Head overlooking Clifton, and enjoying the journey home! GT: As trail running grows in South Africa, what are your thoughts and opinions on how best you see the sport developing? AT: We have so much beautiful terrain in South Africa, itâ€™s such a privilege to be able to spend time running through often remote places. Itâ€™s a privilege to share this with foreigners and a great opportunity to bring in tourism to our country so I would definitely suggest targeting the international community, particularly as trail running is so popular in so many countries, including Japan where 4Deserts is particularly famous! GT: What lies ahead for Angelique Tostee, have you got your eyes set on anything in specific in the near future? AT: I would absolutely love to do the Gobi and Sahara 4Desert Races! I have definitely got my heart set on a few more longer stage trail races and then I have one more Cape Epic in me. I learnt to tap into a mental strength on the Atacama, I learnt a lot about nutrition, not giving up and keeping a positive mindset. I definitely would like to go back to the Cape Epic and apply those learnings!
Anqelique was proudly sponsored
First Ascent South Africa http://www.firstascent.co.za
June / July 2011
GEAR REVIEW ///// SPECIAL
A selection of some of the new products available in
South Africa in 2011
Hi-TEC has always been a well-known outdoor brand but never specifically for it’s trail running products. But all that’s changed what with the launch of the V-Lite Infinity trail shoe earlier this year. Out of the box, this is an amazingly simple shoe, but not in the true sense of the word at all. In fact, the simplicity of this footwear is the V-Lite Infinity’s best feature. A lightweight, breathable upper, coupled with HiTEC’s trademark Ion Mask lining – offering a good degree of water proofing in due-soaked grass and wetter trail conditions – provides for an evercomfortable ride. Hi-TEC has also incorporated a non-conventional lacing system, which uses a quick lock toggle for easy tightening and loosening. One thing we did notice however was that the laces don’t offer a completely even tension across the top of the foot when you tighten them, so you’ll be required to make a few minor adjustments before it’s comfortable on the foot. There is also a one-piece tongue to eliminate debris entering the inside of the upper, offering a little more confidence in sandier conditions.
Hi-TEC V-Lite Infinity Trail Shoe
Moving lower down the shoe, we were sceptical when looking at the heel for the first time, as it seemed that it was going to be over supportive. The mid-sole however is a perfect balance of flexibility and rigidity, in the end offering you a very low toe-to-heel differential that helps tremendously when wanting to make a confident foot-strike. The degree of forefoot flexibility is also really noticeable especially when making those bursts of light-footed speed across technical trail, as this is when all the elements seem to come together. It is this feature that makes it a trail shoe which really borders on a more natural ride without the runner being left with the feeling that they’re running in something over cushioned or over supportive. The durable out-sole is constructed from Vibram® rubber and at first glance doesn’t seem to have any noticeable extra grip, however these shoes grip really well. It’s definitely the flexibility in the mid-sole that adds to the grip quality and this combined with the Vibram® rubber gives the Infinity, and more so the runner, an effective grip over rougher terrain. Hi-TEC have also added in rock guard to protect the arch of your foot from any sharp objects that may penetrate the out-sole. Once again we noticed that with a UK based brand, the size of the shoe differed slightly to other shoes so be sure to try on these shoes thoroughly before hand, as you may find yourself sizing down one size. They also have a very narrow cut so runners with wider, flatter feet may feel slightly uncomfortable in these shoes.
June / July 2011
Over the past few months, since they were launched in early 2011, Salomon has been causing a lot of runner hype around this particular trail shoe, and for good reason. This new hybrid shoe is the latest offering to come from the Salomon XR range and they’re boasting that it’s the perfect trail shoe to take you from tar to trail with ease.
Salomon XR Crossmax Trail Shoe
At first glance, when you pull them out of the box, you would think you were about to strap on a pair of road shoes but as you do, the inherent trail genes that Salomon is so renowned for, begin to appear. Supportive collar around the ankle, rugged Conta-Grip out-sole for increased grip, the trademark OS Tendon through the mid-sole offering support, the debris guard under the lacing system and the SensiFlex material of the upper offering loads of comfort. First impressions do last however and we felt that the stiffness of the mid-sole of shoe was a bit too prominent when you first begin running. Like anything in life, you need the right tool for the job and if you’re running on flat roads as well as milder trail that includes mostly jeep-track type trail, with a lower technical difficulty level, then these shoes are perfect. You’re able to switch from paved road surfaces to lighter trail with ease and this is where these shoes really do the job for the runner who blends road and MILD trail into their training or social runs. But don’t be fooled into thinking that this shoe will do it all for you. It’s on the technical trail that these shoes loose some ground and really don’t give you the confidence and proprioceptive qualities that your foot requires to strike the ground with maximum effect. For example there is not a lot of flexibility after the forefoot area of the shoe. This gives you with the impression that you have a rigid plank of wood strapped to your foot, not good when trying to negotiate lots of varying underfoot conditions. Compared with their flagship model, the Wings II for example, the mid-sole of the XR Crossmax is much thicker and more rigid through the arch so a more natural foot placement on loose and multi-angled surfaces is difficult. When stepping on a tree root for example, the lack of flexibility almost seems to force your foot to roll in whatever direction the root forces you to go, rather then allowing for some kind of responsive reaction from your foot. Overall, whether you’re starting out, crossing over from tar to trail or even a seasoned trail runner but like to blend road and flatter, more even trail surfaces into your regimen then the XR Crossmax certainly provides a light, comfortable ride. In our opinion though, it may not be a good idea taking them on a very technical trail route that throws a lot of variation and inconsistent underfoot terrain your way. rather invest in a technical trail shoe for that.
Salomon RX Break Recovery Sandal
You haven’t walked around in something quite as comfortable until you’ve tried on a pair of RX Breaks from Salomon. As a part of their recovery range, this sandal is ideal for post training and racing and quote “helps your feet recover from the end of your run until you’re chilling in the hammock.” Made from a combination of really lightweight materials, the upper part of the sandal is a fairly one-piece affair with a Salomons patented 360º Sensifit strap and foot bed offering a complete foot cradle. Supported by a firmer Energy Return mid-sole sole as well as Salomons Contagrip© out-sole, these flip-flops are surprisingly rugged and offer great arch support for an overall well cushioned ride. The relaxing effect is almost instantaneous as you slip the sandal on and the high arch support cradles a tired mid-foot superbly. In fact, we believe you’ll be hard-pressed to take these shoes off your feet, as we’re finding it more and more difficult to get our test pair away from Editor! And with the recent stamp of approval from the American Podiatric Medical Association* (APMA), these shoes certainly offer your feet more then just good looks. * “The APMA Seal of Acceptance/Approval Program recognises products that have been found beneficial to foot health and of significant value when used in a consistently applied program of daily foot care and regular professional treatment.“ June / July 2011
Running Shorts & Tights
CAPESTORM Men’s Transonic ¾ tights When it comes to ¾ tights, one should most certainly be looking for comfort and flexibility, especially as this garment ends just below the knee. The Transonic Tights from CAPESTORM offer just that, a truly well rounded fit, something we were a little concerned about when trying them on for the first time. The 90% Poylester/10% Spandex material that the tights are made from offer great breathability as well making for a cool and comfortable ride and with the broad elasticised waist, they offer an allround running comfort through out the duration of your run. We certainly believe the guys over at CAPESTORM have given the design of these tights some serious thought and for that these are one of our “Go Trail Favourites”!
June / July 2011
First Ascent Ladies Trinity Shorts Our woman test runner had only good things to say about these shorts. It appears that First Ascent have even given something as simple as a pair of shorts some serious thought as they seemed to be very well rounded. As they’re constructed from a very thin, durable and lightweight material, this adds to their comfort and flexibility. A great design feature has the waist elasticised around only the back half making them extremely comfortable across the front, something we’ve noticed that women really appreciate in a garment. The moisture wicking and breathable properties were apparent from the outset as our test run was over 15km and on a fairly warm day. There is also zipped pocket on the rear of the shorts, which came in handy for carrying a few fuel items on this particular run. Comfort meets style meets functionality with this garment!
First Ascent Men’s Reaction Tights The Reaction Tights from First Ascent is a really versatile garment and one, which should be in the gear bag. The overall design is a simple one and First Ascent has gone to great lengths it seems to keeping the internal stitching to a minimum, thus lowering the chances of irritating chafe. The broad elasticised waist is where these tights get their true comfort and with and added drawstring, they really don’t move around that much. Two extra handy additions are the two back pockets, one zipped for valuables, and the other open to allow quick access to a gel for example. First Ascent also claims that these tights will offer you some mild compression, but the Elastane fabric that they are constructed from really offers you one very important feature…moisture management. They remain cool and dry, no doubt about it!
June / July 2011
Running Tee’s CAPESTORM Activi-Tee Most t-shirts available on the market today offer the runner similar fabric qualities however the WickDry® technology of the Activi-Tee from CAPESTORM truly makes for a very comfortable running garment indeed. We tested this garment out on a long, hot afternoon run and were amazed at the overall coolness of the fabric, It’s moisture management properties are very good even though it is fairly thick, which brings us to our next point. With a long sleeve option also available from CAPESTORM, you can also wear this garment in slightly cooler weather knowing you’ll remain fairly warm with a consistent temperature overall. Other notable design characteristics include the lack of potential skin chafing internal stitching as well as the wide neck, which doesn’t leave you feeling restricted in anyway. This is a high quality garment that wont cost you and arm (‘scuse the pun) and a leg.
K-Way Triton Tee This is not just another running tee; in fact this is like nothing we’ve seen before. And here’s why. When we received this garment from K-Way, we were told of its unique material properties, and more importantly the fact that it is constructed from 30% bamboo charcoal. Now I guess you’re asking yourself the same questions we did. “What on earth is bamboo charcoal, how did they get it and how is it included into the material?” We also asked the question “How does something which sounds so fancy, assist the runner?” The process of obtaining bamboo charcoal is whereby five year old (or older) bamboo plants, a very renewable material source, is burnt at over 800 degrees Celcius, The charcoal that is created by this burning process is collected and then carefully woven into the garments material fibres to form the finished product. This, K-Way claims, makes a remarkable difference in the moisture management capabilities of the garment, which we have to most certainly agree upon. The high levels of comfort are quickly noticeable in this running tee and the moisture management effectiveness is extremely good. The charcoal is what aids in the moisture absorption, quickly moving sweat away from your body. The material does seem a little thicker and bulkier however this is not the case and a good overall design leaves you running in absolute comfort. June / July 2011
Running jackets are always one of those pieces of equipment that you really want to get right the first time round. They can be too hot, too tight, too short or just ineffective for the task at hand. The Stratos from CAPESTORM eliminates all those concerns and offers you complete solution for cooler and inclement weather.
CAPESTORM Stratos Jacket
To begin with, the material that CAPESTORM uses in the construction of this garment is their trademark VO² MAX fabric. This ultra-lightweight fabric remains a signature component of the jacket as it’s breathability and moisture management properties are excellent. The second noticeable aspect is that CAPESTORM have used some truly innovative design techniques to cater for a whole host of requirements that make this a very multi-functional garment. One of these that impresses the most is the removable sleeves taking this piece of apparel from a full jacket to a ¾ pull over, ideal for if the temperatures are going to be fluctuating during the run. A simple “clip and zip” system allows the sleeves to be removed and then returned with sheer simplicity. This feature also acts as an air vent when in the full jacket form so you are assured of good ventilation to keep you dry. One thing that may be an irritation is the narrow forearm of the sleeves. These can be quite constrictive if you are more muscular especially while using your arms to drive you up an incline. There is also a zipped pocket at the rear of the jacket, but quite frankly it does seem like a waste we carried a few small items and even those bounce around quite a bit. It became a little irritating however if you have no where else to put things then it might be ok if you tighten the elasticised waste drawstring. The Stratos also comes with a very durable frontal zip and the particular garment we tested is a very (very) bright yellow, which we think could come in handy should you be stranded somewhere and want to attract attention. Through a combination of some nifty design features, a high-quality fabric and a good overall shape, this is definitely a top-of-the-list purchase.
First Ascent Quantum Jacket
As with every running jacket, it needs effective at keeping you warm all while remaining comfortable, lightweight and most importantly breathable at all times. The Quantum Jacket from First Ascent does all that beautifully and nothing has been left unchecked in the design of this garment. The general design as well as the lightweight Microtex fabric that this garment is constructed from renders it very comfortable, and extremely flexibility while running. To begin with, there is a perforated strip of material, which runs the entire length of the arm, extending all the way down the side to the waist of the garment. This does offer excellent breathability but can leave you feeling the wind chill a little so be sure to remember that should you wish to run in cold conditions. A very rugged zip system has been added for extra durability to this garment which we feel is important in the harsh conditions of trail running. A breast pocket has been added however this is a little clumsy, and seemingly unnecessary, even with smaller objects inside. We feel that side pockets would’ve been far more useful especially for those chillier days when a quick hand warming is in order. Other useful design features include elasticised thumb straps have been added to the cuffs of the sleeves to reduce the effects of your arms natural running movement which assist in keeping the garment in place at all times. A draw string around the waist is where we feel this jacket is a cut above the rest as you’re able to adjust the waist according to what you’re wearing underneath, maximising the weather proof effectiveness of garment. All in all, this is a high quality outer shell with its effectiveness being predominantly in cool conditions. June / July 2011
K-Way Gomer Fleece
K-Way sent us this garment as one of the apparel pieces they promote as part of their trail running apparel range. Most people wouldn’t associate a fleece top with true running apparel but we tried it out to see just what K-Way was making all the fuss about. Our initial thoughts were that it was going to be too hot for a running top and that it was not going to offer enough wind chill resistance however we were otherwise proven on both accounts. The first thing that stuck out about this fleece was the extremely ultra-lightweight Thermalator® material that it was constructed from. This is a very breathable material and sweating was kept to a minimum, however, in general, the moisture management of the fleece material is not very effective and tends to hang onto the moisture rather then shedding it. Secondly, because of the thin and lightweight construction, your temperature is managed more efficiently and with the full frontal zip, if things get a little too toasty, you’re able to open it for extra ventilation. Something we would’ve liked to have seen is the inclusion of a few venting panels or openings, particularly under the arms as this would offer a bit more of a balanced temperature management overall. Regarding the wind chill resistance - as with all other outer shells, wind chill hindrance is an important quality and because of the fleece material, we were a little sceptical that it wasn’t going to perform as well, however it certainly provided an adequate degree of protection against the cool autumn breeze. There is also a somewhat water resistant breast pocket however this is really only effective with carrying smaller items. In summary it is indeed a comfortable and effective running shell however a little on the warm side and perhaps much more suitable for more icy running conditions then just cooler average temperatures.
Salomon FAST III Running Jacket
It is exactly what it says it is – a running jacket! The Fast III from Salomon is a well-rounded garment that provides you with just the correct amount of protection from the elements you need without being at all cumbersome. And it seems a little water resistant, as we tested it on a drizzly day and it remained fairy dry across the front. This is an outer shell with a great design, a body hugging cut, adequate length over the waist and constructed from Salomon’s Clima-Wind® fabric, which makes the Fast III a really high quality running jacket overall. And with the inclusion of some strategically placed Elastane panels across part of the back and down the sides, this jacket flexes and forms to your every running requirement. The simple frontal pockets are something we also like so that when it gets a little too chilly to handle while you’re taking a break, you can always keep your hands warm. From a negative aspect, the Fast III has a slightly flimsy plastic zip. Yes, it decreases the weight of the garment tremendously, which is an obvious added advantage, however it just doesn’t seem to be as rugged as one would expect it to, especially is you’re wanting this jacket to last through a period of extended wear and tear. Coupled with that are the thumb slits on the sleeves, and although handy, if you have long arms and you are using them, it does make the sleeves seem tight and a little restrictive. Overall this is a great garment and everything you would expect from Salomon. Key features include excellent flexibility and a very effective design.
June / July 2011
K-Way Cadence Pro 20 The Cadence Pro 20 has been constructed to offer the runner a very durable running pack and combines quite a few features that make it a fairly decent allround racing pack. To start with, ample pocket space is provided and segmented in such a way that you are really able to take with you exactly what you need and when you need it, to help get you through your run. The main pocket is extremely spacious and we were able to jam quite a bit of gear into it, however this pocket also houses the hydration bladder so it could become restricted somewhat by that. A nice feature is the zip system directly behind the main pocket which allows you to extend or compact the main pocket, depending on the capacity needs, ideal if you want to bring down the bulk of the pack if only half full. Two more outer pockets, including an open pocket for an outer shell or jacket as well as two waist strap pockets, round off the overall storage capacity of the pack. Unfortunately though, we found the waist strap pockets were a little on the small side and also tucked in a little too far out of reach which made for limited carrying capacity as well as being difficult to access. Something else we noticed on this pack was the construction of the shoulder straps. For a pack of this size, we wouldâ€™ve expected the design of these straps to have taken into consideration a little bit more runner comfort, considering that this pack could become quite heavy once filled to capacity. The degree of comfortable support only extends just over the top of the shoulder, with the remainder of the strap over the collarbone and pectoral muscles being constructed of a thin, stiff rubber mesh. This does become uncomfortable with heavier loads and we feel couldâ€™ve been designed with slightly softer, padded materials.
June / July 2011
First Ascent ARTEMIS 3 + 9 What other piece of equipment would you think of when testing a running pack? A 6kg lead weight of course, and that’s exactly what we took along. After having filled the NALGENE
hydration bladder with 1 litre of water and added the lead weight for good measure, we then ran 15km’s and this is what we found.
The ARTEMIS is truly well designed, there is not much to fault on the ergonomics of this pack. We especially liked the “no-mess-no-fuss” strapping systems across the entire pack because with very little stowing effort, there were no irritating loose ends, no straps left unchecked and the snug fit was apparent right from the word go…no adjustments as we ran.
This pack also allows for quite a bit of extra packing space for that multi-stage event or social run, with three outer pockets offering you a total of 9 extra litres of space. One thing we
would’ve liked to have seen on this pack however was at least one pocket on the waist strap as you’re left having to remove your pack when you want a gel or a quick snack on the run.
The hydration system is something that sets this pack apart we feel as really simple and clever design techniques have resulted in a very effective system. We begin with the NALGENE
bladder which uses the larger opening for quick and easy filling and cleaning. The tube through which water is dispensed to the mouthpiece is detachable from the bladder making it both easy to clean and helps you when removing the bladder from the bag. The Bite-Me mouthpiece
also has two nifty design features that really do make for easy use. The first is the swivel
head mouthpiece, which allows you to open or close the tube (very much like a tap) and thus avoiding any unnecessary spilling. The second is the magnetised clip, which we really liked, as you’re not left fumbling around while trying to stow the mouthpiece after taking a sip of fluid.
You simply hold it roughly in the vicinity of the other magnet on the shoulder strap and the mouthpiece (and tube) snap back into place.
The overall slightly bulky design and structure of the pack may leave you thinking that it’s a bit cumbersome and rigid although the rugged quality of the straps and other materials makes it a well rounded and long lasting pack, one well worth investing in. The only thing we would suggest though is that First Ascent designs a retrofit waste pocket because then this pack would be complete.
June / July 2011
Salomon – XA 20 Our first impressions about this pack, was that there was a little too much loose strapping that could potentially get in the way, especially for thinner, smaller runners. This was largely due to the three-way strap system around the waist. Make now mistake, it is a nifty design feature but can be a little cumbersome and one of our test runners commented that they found themselves tugging on the wrong strap resulting in some unnecessary tightening when trying to loosen and vice versa. They did however find that this could be easily remedied by fully preparing the straps to fit you before running, stowing any loose straps. I guess our one major tip for this pack. Side pockets on the waist strap offer you two options for carrying fuels and other required pieces of equipment. The first option is the right and left zip pocket with the zip mechanism closing towards the back, keeping them out the way of your arms as they pass your body, definitely a design plus there. The other pocket is an elasticised one on the outside of the main pocket on the right where you can quickly store (and get to) gels, bars or pieces of gear that are needed quickly and efficiently. Be careful though, as heavier objects do tend to slip forward and potentially out of the opening. The main zipped compartment is fairly effective and we jammed it full of all the normal trail running gear one would have (as well as a heavy stone for good measure). Although not 100% waterproof, this main compartment (and its contents) remained dry in a downpour we had on the test day, adding a real advantage to the overall functionality. A smaller inner pocket, with zip, is also an effective compartment for those valuables that you may not want bouncing freely around within the pack. We found that we could also use this smaller pocket for some important items of gear that you don’t waste valuable time looking for amongst the rest of your gear. The very accessible hydration bladder compartment makes it easy for you to remove and put back your standard hydration bladder. On the outside of the pack, three pockets are available for extra storage however they’re not at all effective. Each one accommodates about the same capacity as a standard handheld water bottle, and although the two side ones have tightening straps for keeping things in place (the middle one does not have anything) they are open pockets so f you’re bending forward to duck under low vegetation for example, smaller or loose items do tend fall out. Should you have any bigger items you may need stowed you wont actually fit them in and because of their position, they’re unreachable when the pack is on your back. Extra handy additions from Salomon include a colour-coded fastening system for your running poles, a whistle on the over-shoulder strap for those emergencies, a small ventilation gauze at the bottom of the main compartment and a very breathable back layer to keep you cool and dry. Overall, and with the added weight in the main compartment, the pack felt comfortable at all times.
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Black Diamond SPOT Headlamp The Black Diamond Spot is a simple yet effective running headlamp with some great features. To begin with, the powerful LED light, powered by 3 x AAA batteries packs quite a punch. Two settings allow you to choose between, what we’ve called the “dusk and dawn setting”, and the brighter second setting. This “dusk and dawn” setting is ideal for fading light conditions as it gives your eyes the opportunity to adjust to the change from natural light to the electric light. It also makes for an ideal setting when running on lighter surfaces such as beach sand or gravel roads as it eliminates quite a bit of the reflection. This is something you wouldn’t want, as you’ll find yourself squinting quite a bit leaving your eyes tired and uncomfortable. The brighter setting emanates a much bolder and more focused light for use in areas where you may need to see a little farther down the trail. However as it’s powered by a smaller capacity power source, using it on this setting for extended periods of time may decrease the capability and longevity options you have whilst running in hours of darkness. The head strap is made from a very comfortable elastic, which is adjustable to fit even the biggest cranium so you shouldn’t have an issue there. The light swivels on a 5 level setting adjustment giving you ample ground coverage, as and when you require it. With the bouncing motion of running, especially over technical trail, the light doesn’t move around that much at all and is one of the truly positive attributes of this piece of equipment. Where this headlamp may be ineffective would be in a light drizzle or persistent rain, as the battery housing directly behind he light is not sealed and may let in moisture. This is a great piece of equipment for the trail runner who wants a lightweight and effective solution for a few hours of running within the hours of darkness. If your running is going to include some longer periods of night time running, be sure to have a backup set of batteries or perhaps consider a headlamp with a larger power capacity. June / July 2011
Black Diamond ICON Headlamp
The Icon headlamp from Black Diamond is the big daddy of headlamps. If you’re serious about pursuing
a running career that includes long periods swamped by darkness then this is a good piece of equipment
to have. The larger battery pack takes 3 x AA batteries and you’re going to need every last volt! The high setting on the 2 setting LED beam boasts a range of almost 100m which is very handy in conditions where
you really need to have a good light coverage ahead of you. Having said that however, we noticed with both
the lower and higher settings that the beam doesn’t diffuse all that well creating a “halo” effect on the outer edges of where the light strikes the surface ahead of you. This is more apparent on the brighter setting and
when running in thicker forest or areas where the vegetation is close to the trail, the ring created reflects off of branches etc that may seem like they are closer to you then they actually are. We found ourselves often ducking and swerving unnecessarily which, can be irritating and may create a negative impact on your running. The added weight of this headlamp Speaking of the light available,.
The head strap is fully adjustable and offers you an overhead strap, much needed with the extra weight of this unit which is very noticeable and takes a bit of getting used to, especially if you’ve never run with a
headlamp before. Once you’ve got used to the unit, it is a comfortable headlamp to run with. The light housing is adjustable to 7 settings giving you more options whilst running in varied terrain. The overall construction
of this unit seems a lot sturdier and in general, the ergonomics of the entire unit make sense. Remember, for meets function so bare that in mind when looking for a headlamp. Take into consideration your light requirements based on the type of running you’ll be doing.
Pacific Outdoors Pneumo LTW 10L It took as dip in a swimming pool, a tumble in the ocean and deep river crossing to convince us of the full Dry Bag potential of the Pneumo LTW-10L Dry Bag from Pacific Outdoors. This is fantastic piece of equipment and a must have for all trail runners, especially for those who enjoy multi-day racing as well as longer (and potentially very wet) trail runs. Obviously there are other capacity variations that one can get, but we tested the 10-litre option and felt that this was more then adequate for
most of your trail running requirements. We managed to pack quite a bit of food, as well as a cell phone, handheld GPS unit, headlamp and an outer shell jacket…just to make sure.
To begin with, the overall construction of this dry bag is very good and combines 3 specific features that
lends itself to remaining 100% waterproof. It is constructed from Pacific Outdoors feather light 33D fabric,
has heavy duty welded seams, and a double main opening seal which collectively provides for a complete waterproof solution. Obviously it’s down to how you seal it that makes the difference.
Once the bag is filled with the gear you need kept dry, a quick and simple seal at the opening of the bag
makes sure that the contents will remain dry. To also reduce the bags size when filled, Pacific Outdoors
have included a purge valve on the side of the bag to allow you to release any excess air that may add bulk to your race pack. This operates as a dual way valve and air can also been blown into the bag to inflate it.
This is a handy functional aspect that allows you to navigate over rivers and manage the bag on the surface of the water while crossing. Another positive component is the clear “window” that runs the full length of the bag. This provides you with a visually reference to any of the contents you may have inside before having to open the bag to gain access.
A very well constructed piece of gear providing a piece-of-mind waterproof solution for all your trail running needs.
June / July 2011
Health & Fitness
Getting to grips with recovery
By Grace Hughes
June / July 2011
Optimum recovery has become the focus of interest since it has become clear that improved training methods alone do not guarantee optimum performance. As a result of this, a plethora of anecdotal discussion abounds and will continue to do so until studies have been completed which give us more substantiated guidelines for the optimum recovery regime.
Recovery consists of a number of components including:
Sustained inadequate sleep duration negatively affects performance as does inadequate sleep where training bi-daily is required, or where exercise involves consecutive days of competition. However, studies have shown that athletesâ€™ performance does not suffer significantly from inadequate sleep duration, if deprivation occurs only on one occasion, directly before competition.
Exercise free periods
It has become clear that if insufficient periods of no exercise are not employed, athletes underperform at best and become injury prone in more severe cases. The amount of rest needed depends on training intensity and duration as well as the individual athlete, but rest days or even rest weeks (and often a full off-season), are sometimes necessary to improve performance.
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There is some evidence to suggest that stretching post exercise assists in recovery, particularly in the minimisation of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), the â€˜muscle stiffnessâ€? occurring 24-48 hours post exercise.
Gentle warm down exercise post competition/training allows circulation and muscle contraction to normalise.
Although the research is in its infancy, there is evidence to suggest that ice baths assist with recovery after short bursts of activity or where high activity levels are required on consecutive days (particularly in the heat), like in stage races. The effect of ice baths on DOMS is still controversial. Most athletes swear by an ice bath to aid recovery, so more specific guidelines should be developed.
3 Compression garments
Compression garments aid recovery in that they increase vascular return and thereby prevent blood pooling. If vascular return is increased, the circulatory system becomes more efficient allowing arterial blood to aid recovery. Another method of improving vascular return is to elevate the limbs (lie down and lift the legs onto a nearby log).
Massage also assists with venous return so would offer the same benefit as compression garments. In addition manipulation of the muscular and ligamentous tissue appears to offer some benefits in the reduction of DOMS.
Nutritional Intake Over the last 10-15 years there has been an interest in on protein ingestion and its effects on (muscle) protein synthesis. However, in endurance events, muscle glycogen resynthesis remains the single most important factor to consider following exercise.
0-4 hours: The highest rates of muscle glycogen storage occur in the first hour after exercise and early refuelling is particularly important where there is limited time between exercise sessions (eg stage races). Guidelines at present are 1.2g/kg/hr initially, with daily intake being 7-10g/kg. In cases of excessive exercise intensity causing muscle damage (eg a lot of downhill running), muscle glycogen resynthesis is impaired. It is then beneficial to increase the above intake volumes for 24 hours.
4 Protein ingestion
Protein plays an important role in enhancing net protein balance and thereby tissue repair and synthesis of new proteins. It also assists in muscle glycogen refuelling. Acute resistance training (eg intense hill climbing) results in muscle protein breakdown as well as stimulation of protein synthesis, but only when protein is consumed. Muscle protein synthesis cannot occur without ingested protein and therefore high intensity workouts should be followed by protein ingestion and like carbohydrate ingestion, ingestion directly after exercise is important. Unlike carbohydrate ingestion though, there are also benefits to consuming protein before high intensity workouts. It would also appear that protein forms derived from food sources provide greater benefits than those derived from free form amino acids in supplements. The ideal amount of protein to be ingested has not yet been determined, but initial studies show that small doses (±6g) are sufficient.
Ordinarily, fluid replacement is well regulated by thirst and urine losses. Guidelines today indicate that drinking to thirst is usually adequate for fluid replacement, provided thirst is completely satiated. It is also important that if low sodium fluid is consumed (eg water), that additional sodium be ingested. Practically, sodium ingested with food is more palatable than when added to drinks.
Alcohol – consuming
alcohol impairs muscle protein synthesis
Too vigorous cooldown – post exercise
activity levels which are too intense result in increased DOMS
– complete inactivity post exercise results in increased DOMS as well as decreased performance
Hot baths – hot baths post
exercise result in decreased performance
Grace’s Top Tips 1.
Cool down by going for a slow jog for about 5 minutes, relaxing down to a walk 2.
Stretch your quads, hamstrings and calves as well as any other muscles that may be tight 3.
While doing this, drink either a sports drink, milk or water until you are no longer at all thirsty and eat something salty 4.
Ingest (preferably in the first hour) carbohydrate (1.2g/ kg) and protein (about 6g) 5.
Lie down for about 10 minutes with your limbs elevated and/or 6.
Have an 8-10 minute ice bath (at about 12-15º) and/ or 7.
Go into your compression garments (full leg) for a couple of hours or for the rest of the day
Through the lens
Lesotho Highlands PHOTO JOURNAL By Kelvin Trautman
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Go Trail Exclusive
Behind the Scenes with
June / July 2011
Photo: Dean Leslie/www.wanderingfever.com
yan Sandes, a name rapidly becoming synonymous with ultra-trail running, began taking the running world by storm after his extraordinary victory at the 2008 Gobi March, one of four premier Racing The Planet events which make up the infamous Four Deserts Series. Unbeknown to everyone was the small independent film company that began following Ryanâ€™s every move there after, accompanying him to the far reaches of his third endeavour, the Namib Desert. With very little budget, a huge idea and a very relevant title, this new-age running documentary was born.
The independent film company in question? The African Attachment, a truly South African enterprise that echoes the spirit of our vibrant country. The film, and even more so, the running world, are about to be hit with a new dimension film that seeks to tell the story of one manâ€™s extraordinary achievements. We chatted to partners Greg Fell and Dean Leslie, to get a better understanding of who the African Attachment actually is and most importantly, where it all began for Wandering Fever. June / July 2011
Go Trail (GT): Tell us a little bit more about who and what The African Attachment is. Greg Fell (GF): The African Attachment is an independent film company that Dean Leslie and I started in 2006. Dean had come from an animation and photography background and I had studied at Stellenbosch University. At 22 and 23 I suppose we were both trying to work out what we wanted to do in life when we met doing short film courses in Cape Town. We got on pretty well and through Inspired Minority Films we landed jobs on a relatively big feature film that would see us work together every day for 3 months. Having got to grips with the way a film set ran, it became pretty evident that we would either need to work for 20 years in the industry to get anywhere or take the plunge and start our own business. We opted for the latter. It seemed clear from the start that we wanted to tell stories that entertained people but made them think and I suppose we believed that each of us brought something unique to the table June / July 2011
so it seemed like a good idea to start a business. Since then we’ve had to build websites, shoot random shit and all the while learn how to run a business and as things developed, so our opportunities to make the stuff we wanted to became possible. Now in our 5th year we have worked on some really amazing projects and jobs and have built a solid working relationship with clients and producers both in South Africa and internationally. Standing out is definitely ‘District 9’, the award winning short film, ‘Pumzi’ and Spud. We’ve also done a string of music videos for some top bands that resulted in us being selected on the MVP project last year and we produced a critically acclaimed docci called ’12 Mile Stone’. So things are going well at the moment, regardless of ‘Wandering Fever’. GT: Where did it all began for you and Dean with regards to doing Wandering Fever? GF: Dean and Ryan went to school together and have been mates for a very long time. Ryan approached us before Gobi, told us what he was attempting and asked if we could come along. At that stage our company had zero capacity for that so we watched from SA like everyone else as Ryan changed the running world. Sahara came and went and again, with no funds, we just couldn’t put our young company into that kind of risky position to film it. When Ryan won again we knew we had to do something – so with Namibia being on our doorstep Dean got on a plane with Ryan, unaware of what to expect, and ventured into the Namib. At
that stage it was going to be a one off travelogue type film. When Dean came back, having lived and breathed the race and the extreme nature of it, he knew we had to do something more. I remember after that race the name emerged from something Dean had read somewhere – we wanted to make a film called ‘Wandering Fever’ about Ryan Sandes.... If we were ever going to get into making films we had to go for it at some stage and ‘Wandering Fever’ was going to be it. The challenge? Well we had to come up with money now to make it happen, we had to travel around the world with him, and we weren’t making a docci (documentary) in retrospect so if we wanted to have story we had to be there with him as much as possible. Through client based work we managed to save enough money to afford new cameras and the travel costs, Ryan helped us out when we needed more cash and we ultimately went everywhere with him in 2009, 2010 and now 2011: the Amazon, Atacama, Antarctica, Namibia and most recently The Fish River Canyon again. When it just wasn’t possible to travel with Ryan, we would give him a camera to take with to make a sort of travel diary. GT: How was the concept of the documentary born and what were some of the elements that intrigued you the most for the ultimate path you guys are now travelling with regards to the style of the documentary?
GF: The concept has grown over the past couple of years but the premise has always been the same: we all have this underlying desire to do more with our lives, to explore new things so that yearning, that wandering is the motive. Ryan’s story just fits that perfectly and as his life has changed so much , so has the story. From just a travelogue, it has grown now into an adventure that explores a range of themes but I think the core thread throughout the story explores the notion that Ryan is doing something that we were designed to do. Its this and his mental toughness that I think will be explored the most throughout the film. By choosing to run in that first desert race Ryan attempted something we all long to do but by being so successful at it he has drawn media, sponsors and fans who he knows ultimately he has to answer to in some shape or form. So that freedom is now more of a balancing act – allowing him to do what he loves and yet keep others around him happy. In terms of style – Dean has a very unique way of telling a story. He is very subtle in his approach because I think he tries to conserve so much of the virtue or truth behind what he is trying to film or photograph. He never wants to intrude and this means that we are in for a very authentic story which I think is crucial to a film like this. People say and think whatever they want to about Ryan, to some he is a hero, to some he is an image kid but we’ve been there, we’ve seen it all and I hope that this film is testament to June / July 2011
exactly what Ryan has achieved and felt along the way. We have also visited some amazing places and the one thing that seems to always resonate with people when they watch our stuff is how impeccable the images are – so if we can combine Ryan’s story without shooting style I think we may have a winner because they match perfectly. Dean and I will push each other during post-production to get the film where it needs to be – I can’t wait because up until now we’ve stayed quite far away from the footage to conserve as much objectivity as we can when we get into the edit – so it’s going to be an exploration in itself. GT: How long did the initial planning take, and how you came to the final approach strategy GF: There was no initial plan. We just went for it. Before Namibia, the Amazon and Atacama we had such little time to think so it was all about getting there, being there and shooting things as they happened in front of us. Antarctica was a lot more strategic in terms of making sure that having paid so much to get there none of the cameras bombed. Planning around those technicalities was crucial but again it’s all about what happens on the day when you’re out there and I don’t think Dean had any massive issues down there. GT: When did the first shoot happen and since then, what have been the deciding factors of how past, present and future shoots
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take place GF: See above but it’s really boiled down to money. We would have loved to have both of us go along to all the races but in reality it’s just not feasible for a small company. Our mission to the Fish River Canyon recently in March was the first time we’ve both gone with Ryan and it helped a lot. We’ll both be going to Australia and France for his races this year and that is a sign that the film and The African Attachment are in a good place. GT: Can you tell us a little bit more about Ryan’s involvement in the feel of the documentary, how much do you rely on him for ideas in how the footage is shot GF: Ryan has left us up to our own devices and he wants this story to be authentic. No one is going to believe a docci where the protagonist had a hand in the way it was made. He has become a lot more comfortable over the years with having us around and he speaks really openly to Dean, especially given their friendship. That trust goes a long way in securing the authenticity of the story. What he does often do is run past us in a race and reminds us to ask him a question later on, something he will have been thinking about for that whole stage and that’s when we get the gold! GT: What have been some of the more memorable times spent shooting and what have been some of the logistical challenges you’ve had to overcome.
GF: The most memorable moment for me was after our most recent trip to the Fish River Canyon. When everyone had headed back to South Africa Dean and I hung around for a day to get shots of the Canyon and the Desert and being in that place with time to just consider what we were doing made everything tangible. A lot of this project has had to be rush up until now, a rush to get the gear ready, a rush to get the shot, a rush to backup the footage and for once we could just set-up the cameras and just breathe for a while. Logistically, getting into the canyon with our gear down the emergency exit and then across the Fish River was crazy. It was hot and tough – and yet, not even close to what Ryan has to go through when he runs in these places so I’m not going to complain about it. GT: Have you need to invest in any specialist equipment when travelling to some of the harsh climates that Ryan runs in? Dean Leslie (DL): Look, I think in the world of film, the options for gear are limitless. We have two main constraints: cost and weight. We simply can’t afford to splash out on high-end gear and we usually travel alone (no assistants, producer etc – usually on a race it is a one man show) so we have to be able to carry everything. So this makes our choices fairly limited and we have to think out the box and come up with new ideas and workable solutions. Fortunately in the last few years there has been a revolution in the independent film world, which has made gear a lot more affordable, but room for error with this is virtually nil
which is nerve wracking when you are shooting in such harsh conditions. GT: What drives you in each shoot to get the types of shots you want, and what are some of the physically demanding challenge that accompany it? DL: I think the driving force is to always try capture what Ryan is going through on film. The image of a lone runner in a vast expanse of desert is quite moving and powerful and I think it is these types of images that will personify the film. The honesty and integrity of the story are very important to me and I always try stay true to this. In documentary film, there is always this thin invisible line that you are treading – and you need to learn when and when not to push the boundaries. All the shoots have been quite challenging but I think when you are filming a guy like Ryan, you kind of tend to keep your complaints to yourself… Hiking with all the gear in Antarctica was quite demanding and often the temperature would drop dramatically in a few minutes but then with the looped circuits I was able to get a lot more footage than I would, say in the deserts. In Namibia for instance, on one of the days I was out in the desert for 12 hrs. Ryan came over a hill and I got a fairly decent shot and then within a minute he passed me and was gone. It can be really disheartening one day and then the next you get the best shot of the film. I suppose it is very representative of life in that way.
Wandering Fever is set to release later this year and with it being a story of such endless achievement, there is no doubt that the world, whether a runner or not, will find complete and utter inspiration through this extreme adventure documentary. Ryan Sandes continues to excel at the sport he loves so much and with a 2011 jam packed with events in locations that include Australia, America and Nepal, there is no doubt that this film is sure to showcase some of the most beautiful and extreme places on earth. June / July 2011
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The Karoo is one of the most arid areas in South Africa. Fracking for gas poses a further risk to the areas water resources. June / July 2011
There has been much public outcry recently in South Africa around the issue of hydrological fracturing (‘fracking’) of underground rock, a controversial method of prospecting for gas. This has received much attention in the media; however, many people are still at a loss as to what the issue is about. The term ‘fracking’ refers to hydraulic fracturing – part of the process of exploiting shale gas reserves which are ‘locked’ in underground formations. These reserves are accessed by pumping fluid down drilled channels (wells) into the gas-bearing rock at very high pressures. This causes the rock to fracture, creating cracks and fissures through which the gas can ‘escape’. The fracturing liquid usually consists of water mixed with sand and chemicals. Many of the different chemical agents used are flagged as dangerous to humans and the environment. Three oil companies, Royal Dutch Shell, Falcon Oil & Gas, and Bundu Oil & Gas are considering exploring natural gas trapped in underground shale formations in the Karoo. Shell has applied for exploration licences for an area of 90,000 square kilometres – roughly three times the size of Lesotho.
afford to waste vast amounts of water in a water scarce area such as the Karoo? The life span of a shale gas extraction well is limited to 5-8 years, as the productivity declines drastically over the first 5 years. The invasive method of shale gas exploitation is thus unsustainable, and one has to wonder what will become of the Karoo once the oil companies have extracted what they can and packed up and left? Can South Africa afford to destroy our environment and further damage our climate for a few years worth of fossil fuel? Lewis Pugh recently gave a short, heartfelt speech about the proposed fracking for Gas in the Karoo, which captures the main concerns and apprehension surrounding the issue. To watch the speech, click here.
Local communities in the Karoo are not only angry because they have been given no say about what happens to the minerals below their land, but they are concerned about the damaging effects that shale gas exploitation has on the environment. Fracturing a single well requires a huge volume of water - around 9,000 - 29,000 m3 (9 -29 million litres). Chemicals make up about 2% of the fracturing liquid, i.e. about 180,000 – 580,000 litres. However, only 15 – 80% of the injected fluid is recovered, meaning that the rest remains underground where it is a source of contamination to water aquifers. Shale gas extraction thus poses a threat to ground and surface water – the fracking process brings a significant risk of contamination of these valuable water resources. This pollution can affect drinking water, as well as rivers and wetlands, threatening human health and the environment. The volume of water required for fracking is also cause for concern: many parts of South Africa already experience water shortages, and further stressing of water supplies could pose serious problems at a local and regional level. Can we really
Our objection to the invasive hydro-fracking process is based on the potential for contamination of ground water, which could adversely affect South Africa’s ground water, ecosystems and human livelihoods. We are calling for an extension to the Draft EMP comment deadline and also calling for National Government to initiate a SEA (Strategic Environmental Assessment) for the whole Karoo Region prior to any ‘invasive’ activities being undertaken (exploration, mining, etc.) because we believe there is a need to better understand the ecological, social and economic dynamics of the Karoo region. WESSA will be providing detailed comment on the draft EMP in a joint submission with Birdlife SA and FSE (Federation for Sustainable Environment).
WESSA opposes the application by Shell to prospect for gas in the Karoo and our environmentalists have engaged strongly with the process, attended public meetings and submitted comment. We are also actively networking with other NGOs and concerned individuals in this regard.
For more information see the Treasure the Karoo webpage on http://treasurethekaroo.blogspot.com/
June / July 2011
Published on May 27, 2011
In our mid-year special double issue, we bring you features from around the world of trail running, tips and advice on recovery, a gear revi...