Archive for December 2010

DUCT Trail Running Series….


Every second week over the last six weeks, some of  my ‘Change a Life’ Zulus have been taking part in the DUCT (Dusi/Umgeni Conservation Trust) Trail running series. The first two events were held at two of KZN’s best kept secret trail running venues. And both a stones throw away from Pietermaritzburg.

MKHONZENI – helped mark the route and manned the water station….

Cumberland Nature Reserve hosted the first run and what an incredible turnout of more than 300 runners. I arranged with Michael Mbanjwa (my 2008 Dusi winning partner) to bring the best runners of my ‘Change a life’ squad to the 6:30 early morning start. An absolute pleasure not to have to hassle with boats, bikes and everything else and to have the boys waiting under the start banner in time for race briefing.  As usual, my warriors were like whippets off the line. Cumberland- a small game reserve bordering a stretch of the Umgeni River, is home to ample breeds of game and birds and have recently become home to two giraffe. “Change a Life’ youngster, Sizwe, blitzed the 14km long course, crossing the finish line first, with no-one in sight. Having never earned a penny, the smile that beamed across his face when recieving the R400 1st prize, I thought he won the Lotto.

NHLANHLA & SIZWE – winners of the 7km & 14km

Being only a week after Triple Challenge, the other boys opted for the 7km short course, as legs were still weary from the monumental effort of the Triple Challenge. Here Nhlanhla came first, shortly followed by Kwanda.

ALL SMILES – fun day’s training….

The second race of the series was again held in ‘my back yard’. As the world knows of Table Mountain in the Cape, Table Mountain overlooking Nagle Dam (where my valley boys live and train), could well be considered for being one of the greatest Wonder’s of the World. It is a sacred place for the local tribes and has rarely had ‘mlungus’ (white people) tickling its back.


With the Dusi Canoe marathon in February being the major focus now, and the 2-day 50-miler the following weekend (biggest pre-race to the Dusi), my ‘Change a life’ A-Team were doing a long paddle session on Nagle Dam. The non-paddlers from my Academy were here to run.

SIZWE – first 1.5km near vertical start….

Sizwe, once again was here on a mission. Blasting off the line, up a near vertical hill for the first 1.5km, he made a rookie error of going too hard to early and it wasn’t long before his legs failed him and he hung in to finish 3rd overall.

FOCUSSED – Nhlanhla soon to overtake Sizwe….

Even though he was not supposed to be running (should of been paddling), how could I not be impressed with Nhlanhla. He ran an excellent race to come 2nd overall and thats with having cycled out of the Valley to get to the start of the race, possessed with the possibility of maybe winning prize money. That hill he had to conquer on his bicycle, is the toughest hill I have ever ridden on a ride. Approaching it from the bottom, with mist at the top, it could well be the pathway to Heaven. I shake my head in amazement, that he was still able to punish the 14km course. But he was soon to find out, that everything comes at a price –  the next day was the start of a niggle in his knee.

JEANNIE – showing  a clean pair of heals to the other girls…. (see top right of picture)

With baby-sitting duties, I took on a passenger for the short course – 7km

            CALLUM – taking a break halfway ( me too)….[Note: Nagle Dam in background, home base for my ‘Change a Life’ Academy. Thats where Nhlanhla cycled from this morning to get to this run….

3RD DUCT TRAIL RUNMUSI & SIZWE – at the start….

This past weekend, the third run of the Series was held at the majestic venue of Hilton College. The 14km route was the toughest yet. Runners were mislead by the easy going, mostly downhill first half. The incredible scenery, running upstream along the Umgeni River, guarded by spectacular cliffs either side, too distracted the runner from possible fatigue they might have felt. But there was no hiding from the murderous ascent that was required to climb back out the valley, to cross the finish line. No matter who you were, your heart rate would of maxed and your lungs gasped for air – this medal was justly earned.

MUSI & SIZWE (within black circle)- about to begin the monster ascent up Gwen’s Valley….

Sizwe ran his best race todate, pacing beautifully off the much more experienced local running legend – Muzi Madikwa (podium finisher in KZN Marathon Champs). Coming onto horizontal terra firma, after the monster climb, Muzi showed his class, as he changed gears and dropped Sizwe with minimal effort. Once again, Sizwe’s lotto smile as he went up to recieve his second place prize was priceless.

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Not only did Zonele Nzuza win the Upper Umgeni Canoe Race, but two weeks later he went on to win the very technical Table Mnt Descent Canoe Race as well. This is the first time a ‘Change a life’ paddler has won a canoe race in a K1 (single) Canoe.

ZONELE NZUZA – upcoming star….

Zonele is a quiet, reserved individual, that is so shy he can’t even get out my car to talk to his ex Primary School Headmaster. Opting not to race the Triple Challenge so he could focus more on his paddling, he now is reaping the rewards of hard training and has jumped to a whole new level performance wise.
Who is this individual you might ask? Being overshadowed by Eric Zondi  and Thomas Ngidi,  Zonele has flown under the radar. However he is a boy with pedigree, having crossed the line in 14th position overall in last year’s 2009 Dusi. He too has placed 3rd overall in the Non Stop Dusi. Zonele & partner Nhlanhla Cele had a disappointing 2010 Dusi, based on poor boat choice for the race. Contrary to what all the other ‘Change a Life’ crews paddled, they were adamant to race in the very fast but unstable Venom K2, which was far too tippy for them, made worse by a full Day two. Three swims later, saw their top ten chances disappear. Buts thats racing, and now Zonele is the wiser….


Dusi 2010 day 1

My husband and I have tried to let her shine in accordance with her strengths and talents