Archive for November 2008
Seven PB’s (personal bests) were obtained in our regular Wednesday running time trial down at Nagle Dam yesterday afternoon. Its a beautiful course, mostly on single track, that circumnavigates the Dam (Durbans drinking water). With the cold rainy weather I was super impressed with the 22 strong turnout, knowing that they had to walk from home and will still have to walk back afterwards in the dark. Everyday I am humbled by their raw dedication and for what…? They don’t get paid for this and majority won’t even get prize money from racing. They do it becaus they love it, want to improve themselves and ‘because they can’.
Before we started, it was such a treat to hand over ten HI-TEC trail shoes (V-Lite Trail Eruption) to my most promising Dusi athletes. The look on their faces when I called them forward was ‘priceless’, smile from ear to ear. I still have another five pairs to give to the potential eighteen guys remaining. Skhumbuso always runs barefoot. Watching him pronk like a Springbuck taking his first few steps in his new shoes was hilarious. Mbetje has to come 7km to get to Nagle, he starts the time trial dripping sweat as he only gets off work at 4.30pm, so its a hard run to make the 5pm start.
Last weeks start (above pic) This weeks start (above pic)
Lucas (left pic) has the fastest time for the run. He has been an incredible workhorse since the program started two months ago. He is Bungi’s best friend.
From the generous sponsorship of shoes and sandals from HI-TEC, we down here in the Valley of a Thousand Hills have officially named our Wednesday run – the ‘HI-TEC running time trial’.
The Hi-Q Midmar Mini Marathon (paddle/run/paddle/run/paddle/run/paddle), is the perfect training to do for Dusi, seeing that there is no water for tripping on the River at the moment. Hindered with a running injury I had to sit this one out, however I had a great day watching the boys perform.
I followed the race in my K1, taking photos along the way. It was good to witness the inexperienced tactical blunders the guys made, from poor manoevres on the bunch to emptying their boats at the start of portages.
Bungi and Thomas put in first after the third portage. I wondered whether the 100m gap to Birkett was enough of a lead for Thomas to maintain for the last 2km paddle to the finish. But good teamwork kicked in with Bungi nursing him on the wave to maintain their positions, 1st and 2nd. Zonele learned an expensive lesson (possible podium finish), for not checking the wing nuts in his boat (after enduring the bumpy ride on the trailor from Nagle Dam), when his pedal system ’dropped out’ on the last portage – finished 11th.
Lucas came in on his own in 5th and Nkosi and Nhlanhla together in 6th & 7th respectively. Was really pleased for Richard coming 10th. From the beginning he was written off by his mates that he wouldn’t be a top 50 Dusi candidate. He is by far the hardest worker at training and has such a great attitude.
Before the race I was showing Mmeli (first under 16) my method of getting out the boat, putting the paddle away and emptying when I noticed how absolutely buggered his paddle was. He said its always been like that (unbelievable he finished last weeks Popes Challenge with it). Abbey lent him a paddle for the race.
After I drove the guys back down to the valley, we sat under the trees at Nagle Dam, discussing the ‘good and the bad’ of the days racing. Results were great but warned them this was not Dusi, there is so much still to learn about that River.
Look forward to giving the guys ten new Orka paddles next week.
|NKOSIKAYISE||CELE (SHANGASE)||LEM||KZ||01:58:21.23||K1 6||U(21)1|
|NHLANHLAYAKHE WISEMA||CELE||LEM||KZ||01:58:23.29||K1 7||U(18)2|
|MMELI||CELE (SHANGASE)||LEM||KZ||02:06:19.25||K1 23||U(16)1|
Always when I drive down the steep windy road to Dusi Bridge, its with intent – to go tripping or to race. It felt so good this time to be driving down because today I was Father Christmas (to some). I had a trailor with ten spanking brand new Mustang K1′s.
That day only three guys officialy got given a boat. Seeing their name stickered on the side made them extremely proud. I let three others also use the new boats, but ‘no name’ meant it was just on loan.
I have more than ten guys chomping on the bit to represent the ‘top 10′ contigent hoping for a top 50 Dusi. So I must be cautious to whom I give equipment because with the regular training now, some guys who were off the pace a few weeks ago, are rising through the ranks.
Last nights running time trial, Nhlanhla stepped on some glass which put a deep gash in his foot. I felt for him when he walked back to the start, knowing that he wanted to claim line honours and stamp his authority on the others. It is a concern whether he can do the race on the weekend. He is super competitive in the under 18 category, placing 2nd at the recent Ozzy Gladwin Canoe race. Richard continues to impress, along with Mmeli. Mzamo (Loveday Zondi’s little brother – under 16) took 2min off his best time and Skhumbuso was 3min 30 sec quicker.
Tonight’s paddle time trial will be a gala affair with numerous lucky draws for the 30 odd participants.
What an absolute pleasure this rain has been. What is good for the farmers is good for the paddlers.
On Saturday I took four of the guys on their first ‘tripping session’ of the Dusi. We jumped in at Dusi bridge, ran saddles (the locals are using both paths, so are in surpringly good nick. The odd niggly thorn branches will be trimmed come December), paddled down to Gum Tree (pointed out the ‘Everest Rock’ that I use as a level indicator to determine what lines to take) and continued down the Confluence. The gammy rudder on my K2 finally came to an end after shooting Washing Machine smoothly. To the entertainment of the folk on Popes Walk, scampering along the river right bank, I proceeded to bash my way down to Gauging Weir where I changed my K2 for a K1.
The hyacinth washed free from the recent high water constricted the channels before Ngumeni takeout. Gum Tree was a breeze. Guys were fearful of Tombi, we stopped and checked it out - they were amazed how easy it was. Hippo was very blocked up with Hyacinth on the right where the guys wanted to portage so they made a channel. I opted to paddle the left main channel, it isn’t as difficult as it looks and is very quick. We climbed out at Umfula Store.
Sunday’s Popes Challenge saw a considerable drop in the river level, making lines more challenging. Nkosi got the best result coming 12th. I paddled in and around Lucas – 19th (4th at Ozzie Gladwin), Mkhonzeni-22nd, Skhumbuso-28th, and Zonele-29th. However upon approaching the dam, our group broke up as the guys periodically had to empty (even on the flat water) their canoes. Nhlanhla came 39th, Richard 48th. Mmeli did fantastic for his first trip on the Dusi, placing 2nd under 16 boys, only 55secs behind first. To my astonishment, half the guys raced with no juice. This problem will be addressed before next weeks race.
It still amazes me how easily the guys move over the rough ground, barefoot. Those who do wear shoes rip them off as quickly as possible right after they run, as they are ill fitting and old and not really serving much purpose. Running Time Trial went smoothly, 10 more names were added to the list, making it 31 in total. I thought the overcast cool weather would have brought a new record, but the fellas were feeling a bit weary (definitely not used to such regular training) and the winning time was a minute slower.
I rode my mountain bike, so I can go back and forth between the guys, keeping a watchful eye on all. A few minutes after the start I noticed Nhlanhla (2nd fastest time to date) lagging. I asked him what was wrong and he pointed to his shins (shin splints). I asked him to go back and sit this one out but he refused. Then Richard (5th fastest) looked like he was toiling early. Questioning him, he said he’s got flu. Same instruction, please stop and walk back to start.
Nhlanhla was 2 minutes slower than normal and Richard was ten. I get the impression they feel they have to perform all the time. Needless to say they got a stern talking to afterwards – “its 100% to sit out if you not feeling good, you will be the better for it. However if you sit out because you are lazy, then you will not make the top 50″.
Am really looking forward to bringing down HI-TEC shoes (road, trail and sandals – size 9,8,7,6) for the guys to try on next week. Once the guys sizes are worked out, I will be able to place an order for the respective three pairs each.
And yes there is water in the Dusi. Very dirty yesterday, being the first decent ‘flush out’. However with the good rain last night, river level for tripping tomorrow (Sat) will be good.
Its scary how ‘willing to please’ the guys in the valley are when it comes to training. If I said “climb that tree over there twenty times”, they wouldn’t even hesitate.
Well it sure makes the “coaches’ job easier, but on the flipside, wanting to please makes them do everything full speed. I have become very sensitive to the possibility of this resulting in some individuals burning out, getting injured… and so at times seperate the group into different strengths during training. Else the slow are forever chasing the fast.
Paddling yesterday with resistance around the boat was a novelty to all. Once again many went out too hard and blew spectacularly. This type of training is necessary as these guys don’t have access to gym resulting in this “boat gym” being a great alternative to loading the muscles and targeting the muscles that count.
This arvie, they will do the weekly running time trial. Lets hope some records are broken
Bungi and I did 90% of our training for the 2008 Dusi down at Nagle Dam. He was happiest living at home where the samp and inyama was rocket fuel. What made the experience so humbling for me, was that his mates voluntarily joined us for training every day, running barefoot and paddling skdonky boats that leaked profusedly even on flat water. However they never asked me for anything, no shoes, energy drink or even just a T-shirt. Whilst driving to Cape Town after having had an incredible Dusi experience (the win being a small part of it), I kept asking myself ”I wonder how good those guys really are”. To put it in perspective – Bungi has done 10 Dusi’s with one win and I have done 12 Dusi’s with 7 wins. I am no better athlete than Michael, just had a much more advanced support structure and opportunity at my fingertips. And so the Martin Dreyer Academy concept was born. What an absolute pleasure to put something back into the Valley of a Thousand Hills, a place that has given me so much.
Thanks to Computershare ‘change a life’ Trust for making this project possible. Program goal is to get ten guys/girls from the valley into the top 50 of Dusi (excluding Bungi or Loveday).
Dusi program started Oct 1st, training is going well. The squad is growing steadily. Will definitely keep you updated with ‘life in the valley’.
Feel free to ask me anything Dusi related and if I don’t know the answer I will ask the experts.