Archive for May 2009


           Rush hour traffic is somehow different when I drive  down to                               Nagle Dam in the morning.  

The boys in the Valley are quietly getting it, sliding smoothly into a weekly training routine that comes without the disruptions of weekend racing. Thomas (15th – Dusi) hurts the others on the run and bike and then fades horribly on the paddle. Lucas (10th – Dusi) almost matches Nhlanhla (32nd – Dusi) on the run and cycle, however catches him on the paddle, then they work hard together to close the gap on Thomas. Richard (13th – Dusi) usually claims fourth, but his cycling lets him down. Next up are Zonele and Kwanda 14th & 18th – Dusi), they are consistent in all three disciplines. Eric (9th – Dusi) has yet to race multi-sport against the others in training. He is based at Shongweni and gets it on his lonesome. Going to be a great duel between Thomas and Eric.

The above mentioned seven athletes are my ‘Change a Life’ team that will be tackling the “Ironman” as they call it, popularly known as the Triple Challenge (21km trail run, 52km Mtb, 20km paddle) come November 8th. The high flying goal is to get 5 of them in the top 10 overall, in the Individual category. 

I almost wish that the first Jeep Msinsi Race (5km trail run, 20km Mtb, 5km paddle) was this coming weekend, instead of the 19th of July – just to see how they fare against the seasoned Multi-sporters.

Mkhonzeni, Tom and Skhumbuzo (36th, 44th & 72nd – Dusi) struggle with the running, so they will race the Team category, teaming up with some of their friends who like to run.                                                                                                                                                                        

The ‘Change a Life’ athlete families love the weekly food rations their boys earn. Never before in the Valley of a Thousand Hills have school kids been ‘providers’ for the family. So you can imagine the status that goes along with that.

Lucas lives in the midst of these families. So when I happen to go to his house for whatever reason, Moms appear miraculously, unable to thank me enough for the bundle of nutrition that appears weekly. “Its not me who you should thank but your sons, they earned it because they are training very hard”, I reply.

                                                                       Richard’s Mother

 Lucas’s Mother

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                                                       GWAHUMBE NATURE RESERVE

A few hours after competing in the Spur Adventure Challenge at Shongweni Dam, my ‘Change a Life’ athletes hopped in the back of my bakkie (actually Graeme Pope-Ellis’s bakkie). We then drove to the Gwahumbe Nature Reserve in Mid Ilovo – KZN, accepting the generous invitation from Craig MacKenzie (Race Director of the Juicy Lucy Classic Mtb race), which included two nights of fancy accommodation, all meals incl. race entry. During a game drive, the exclamations of disbelief from the guys when they witnessed their first ever sightings of Giraffe, Wildebeest and Hippo were ‘priceless’.

Having raced the inaugural Juicy Lucy Classic last year, I loved every aspect of the race, from the well marked challenging course, friendliness of the farming community, to the warm hospitality of my hosts. Thus, I thought this would be the perfect Mtb race for my boys to experience as their first, hopefully making it a memorable one.

With a record entry of over 1200 participants, they charged off in the seeded C batch, excited and nervous. For the first 18km, riders traversed through the Gwahumbe Nature Reserve. . Mhkonzeni, Richard and Lucas later admitted they were very scared of coming across the Rhino we had tried so hard to find on yesterday’s game drive. The second half involved a steady climb and some great single track on the descent.

Thomas Ngidi crossed the line first within the ‘Change a Life’ camp – 112th position overall, closely followed by Nhlanhla Cele – 116th overall. The rest finished within the top 200 positions. I was very pleased with our results, but also relieved that no injury to body or damage to bikes was incurred.


Having been shown up in the Juicy Lucy Classic, the guys are training with more purpose now. Realising that as far as Multi-sport goes; they have a real chink in their armour with respect to cycling. The Sunday run, cycle, paddle session is the toughest of the week but strangely the one they look forward to the most.

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