Last week, the first of the Duct Trail Run series happened on Saturday and my boys were eagre to put on their Hi-Tec infinities and give the course a thrashing. 300odd participants got to savour the beauty of a small game reserve, Cumberland, nestled on our back doorstep. The 7 or 14km routes wind through the heart of this wildlife filled biosphere on the cliffs overlooking a section of the Umngeni river just 10km (as the crow flies), upriver from Nagle Dam. If you are able to take your eye off the undulating and rocky terrain for a moment, its possible to glimpse a giraffe or two, kudu, bush pig and even a mamba. My valley boys were more than happy to put their heads down to concentrate on the tricky footing (although hardened by their way of living, they ‘skrik’ (are frightened by) for any crawly creature. So negotiating the uneven trail, they bounded after Ian Don-Wauschope who led the race from start to finish. The Cele Brothers, Nhlanhla finished 2nd and Richard 3rd, very chuffed to be amongst the prize bootie. Kwanda followed in 4th and Sizwe 5th.

It has been a long time coming, this 2011 Berg Canoe Marathon [13th to 16th July], but that is a good thing as it takes a long time to train for such a race with massive distances averaging 60km per day, and that has been the focus of my Academy of late – This weekend my ‘Change a Life’ boys Berg training comes to a peak as they take on the Swartland Canoe Marathon this weekend down in the Cape, which is also the South African K1 River Championships for 2011
My Zulus jumped into Michael Mbanjwa’s sponsored Nissan Double cab, early Tuesday morning, all cosy, for a long drive down to the Cape for this important pre-Berg river race. This race is going to give them a true taste of what to expect on the Berg, as a cold front has just hit the Cape Town.
Staying in one of the Dormitories at the primary School in Riebeek Kasteel, Eric Zondi told me yesterday that it was too cold to practice on the River “Mart it is freezing and the rain is coming down hard, so we decided not to practice on the River, we will get sick.” Which was a pity, as there is so much to learn on Day 1 of Berg, where to go in the numerous tree blocks and certain channels not to take as they come to a dead end. However today (Thursday 16th), they managed to trip the river.
What was it like I asked- “These trees are tricky,  and there are lots of channels to remember. I had one swim today, shew the water is cold, not like the Dusi” said Kwanda, but super happy for the opportunity to experience a new river. I had to laugh when they told me that Michael Mbanjwa was the other person to swim – “Bungi was paddling along, and he kept feeling something touching/wriggling underneath his legs in his canoe. When he eventually opened his spray cover and looked, it was a little snake. In one second, Bungi jumped or fell out his canoe into the River – we laughed, we tease him that it still counts as a swim”

‘Change a Life’ John Ntuli flies down to Cape Town on Friday with the KZN Duathlon Team to take part in SA Duathlon Champs – 10km run, 40km bike, 7.5km run. John is buzzing with excitement as he gets to test himself against the best….

My wife gave me ‘sports leave’ about 6 weeks ago, to do the Freedom Challenge- to MTB my way from Pietermaritzburg to Cape Town, leaving tomorrow- Friday at 6am. Her reasoning was that I haven’t raced anything really challenging for a while now and I needed to take on something big to ‘feel alive’. I’m thinking I may just feel the opposite. Even the mere thought of riding 15+hrs each day for 2 weeks (hoping no longer!), makes my legs burn. Friends have tried to be supportive, saying, ‘You’ll ride yourself fit’, and ‘this is your sort of game’, I’m still not entirely convinced. With 2300km of rugged terrain to navigate through and when I hear the supposed freezing weather to hit the Rhodes mountains so early on into this race and the snow predicted for the Stormberg – I smile to myself “Dreyer, you going to have to dig deep on this one”
What makes this event extreme, is that a 2litre ice-cream container at each designated ‘overnight stop’ will hold all the luxuries and treats for the next leg of the ride. (Two weeks ago each rider packed their own boxes and they were delivered to these remote locations.)
Follow the Freedom riders progress on www.freedomchallenge.org.za All four chambers are at rest and the av valves are closed c

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