Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Your Guide to the Knysna Oyster Festival by The Team

Each year in July thousands of people flock to Knysna for the annual Oyster Festival. Apart from the numerous cultural and culinary side shows the eight day long festival offers a multitude of sporting events aimed at pro and social sports people alike.For The Team this two weeks offers up a challenge of going out of ones comfort zone and doing as many events as possible. We will have team members in all of the seven sports events on offer at the festival with Jeff and James competing in the Big Five Contest where they have choosen five events over the eight day festival.
I asked each member to write a short article on their favourite event during the Festival and how they would be tackling it. Please note the opinions expressed below are those of the individual not the Team.
See you all there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Bike Rides

Riding your bike in and around Knysna ,be it on road or on the dirt normally is a pleasure, wide open spaces, fairly decent road users and you might bump into the odd local on route and then if you lucky you’ll see the odd celebrity like Kevin Evans Yolandy Speedy Matyus Bekus and of coarse the likes of us Pennypinchers Adventure Racers that are always out there soaking up the waters, trails and forests .But beware the Oyster bike rides are upon us and its all going to change. Where we normally need a map ,Gu, a wipe of Blue Steel ,a Helly Hansen top and a smudge of Island Tribe to feel prepared it all changes this weekend. You need to have so much more to fit in ,to start with you will have to shave from your toes to your side burns ,wear at least one piece of sponsored clothing to feel allowed into the town .

So let this be a guide for you multi sport and adventure racers out there:
1) To start don't ever loose your identity there's only a few of us but we are well respected. The fact that they don't acknowledge you is a road bike thing.
2) Don't get caught wearing your Rocket Compression kit although you will need them if you doing the Big Five events, you don't want people to know your secret to recovery, it must be hidden by your jeans and a Helly.
3) Don’t ever wear pink its unsafe
4) Arrive early on Friday to register traffic is going to be hell. Oh and did you know registration has moved to where the mountain bike race always starts and finishes for that matter. The other field has been upgraded for the soccer although they have already left its not being used (hey we should start a bike polo game there), ok don't try to drive to the registration or the start of the two bike rides park at the first parking you find or at the old registration field and walk or drive in it will be quicker.
5) The mountain bike route has not changed much starts with those two same dam hills but you don't cross the N2 and have that dreaded last climb there will be others but not as bad and remember the last 5/6 km are down hill .
6) The road bike has also gone back to the original route out and back to Hoekville. I will miss going past our favorite Pennys hardware store and enjoying their friendly watering table but maybe we will see more Pennys guys on route with us ,so check out the route as you drive in from Cape Town.
7) Make sure you bring enough Gu for during and recovery ,use your Rocket compression gear during and for recovery and don’t be shy to use your Blue Steel you don't want to walk like a cowboy after a day in the mud it will be a long week. Make sure you have good warm kit like a Helly Hansen with this you wont cook latter in the day ether.
8) Please keep a eye out for us Pennypinchers racers we will greet you with a smile and if we not on a hill maybe even catch up ,any thing you've forgotten you can try Earth Scout at our Waterfront or the two bike shops now both on Waterfront Drive ,one just a stone throw from the start line .

We all looking forward to seeing you out there I’ll be doing all six events so I’m sure we will bump into each other somewhere.


The Featherbed Trail Run

This will be the 3rd year that this magnificent trail run will be held in the very exclusive Featherbed Nature Reserve. What a privilege to be able to take part in such a unique environment. There will be a short and slightly longer trail run this year with 3 options of a morning, afternoon and night start. One starts with an uphill just to spread out the field so that the stronger runners can be separated from the slower ones. When you start with this uphill, to me it normally feels as if I have never run in my life. When one gets to the steps at the most beautiful part of the Eastern Head, it feels the same and one is forced to walk up some of those steps. Use the excuse to enjoy the scenery or take a picture if you don’t go for a win, to get your breath back. The distance of both trails runs sound short, but be careful there are no water points will be provided. You have to look after yourself. Although the route back over the old railway bridge looks easy and straight forward, don’t lose concentration because a misstep could cost you dearly. Enjoy your race – it is obvious how popular this trail run is because in no time all six events were fully entered.

The perfect scenario for Xterra training in my books would be nice, short but hard sessions of running with some hill training because I know that Knysna has some sweet little hills in it. The transition from the bike to the run is also something that one should practice " cos those legs aren’t going to work to well. So let me go back to the real world yes running I've done but I think my 38km of trail running plodding along enjoying the view hardly sounds like the fast intense training that I know I should have done. But hey at least there where some hills which fair enough I walked but better then nothing and the good news was that I was wearing my rocket socks (to amusement of the rest of the runners calling me a hockey player) so my legs where pretty much ready for Xterra training the next day.
Now to my cycling!! Well who could refuse a 55km moonlight cycle which took us three and half hours so time on the bike is there, hills where also included, transition from the bike to run!! Does getting of and pushing the bike count?? The good news is that I know my nutrition and race food I have figured out and trained with, a few GU gels yummy (my favorite being vanilla) and water. So all and all my Xterra training might not be the most scientific and correct way but it was the most fun way and that's what counts having fun, being out there with same crazy minded people. And by the way winning is not everything ya right!! See you at Xterra.


The Knysna Forest Marathon

Believe it or not this is possibly one of the most popular runs in the country in terms of novices wanting to get into half (21 km) and ultimately full (42 km) marathons !

The sight that greets every participant in the early hours of the morning as they clamber from their cars is this long line of minibus taxis and busses consuming throngs of enthusiastic and in some cases still very hung over Bruce Fordyce wannabees and if you are lucky even an Elvis here and there waiting for their ride into the chilly and enduring Knysna Forests !
This in itself is all part of the experience as you thunder along with all your fellow competitors with the "beat" turned up to full volume and your 4 am breakfast about to return to the outside world the way it came in.

On arrival at the start line (21 km you run south and the 42 you head north) its all about self preservation and the earliest, fastest and fittest get to huddle around the fires those not so fortunate shiver away while they await the starters gun. So be prepared to have the right kit and this is where you cannot go wrong layering yourself with some fine Helly Hansen gear. For the Pennypinchers Adventuring Racing Big Five athletes - their tried and tested training routine of mixing up short hard intervals with long endurance runs the legs will be ready come marathon day. Add in some hefty hill climbs in the training otherwise you are in for a big shock come event day - there are some serious ups and downs (sometimes these downs can be even harder on a poorly tuned bod).

Being a Road Marathon, water points are organised all along the route but better to carry your GU and have a hydration belt to feed on the supplements that best suit you .......otherwise its a choice of sachets of water ( blamed for many a gippo gut ) or cups of coke ( great for a sugar high and then an equally fast low ). GU have hit the market not only with their ever popular Energy Gels, but you can now feast on their jelly baby equivalent - The Chomp and a fine choice of flavours for your juice concentrate !

Running can demand a lot out of your feet and as adventures racers have found out over and over - it is so important to give them every bit of tlc to get the job done and be ready for more. Blue Steel anti chafe spread between the toes and in the crotch will give you such a smooth glide you will never go without it again.

Winter conditions may not call for heaps of sunscreen but Island Tribe Lip Balm will protect your lips from succumbing to cracks and cold sores.

The full marathon has a tendency to irritate any lurking ITB injuries and make the last downhill through Simola a very painful experience. Rocket Compression garments have come out with a nifty range that includes a whole host of options. My personal favourites being the full length tights that make you look like you are about to take on the Bolshoi Ballet but in terms of performance during and after your run make every disparaging comment "water of a ducks back" - these really work and have a pair to sleep in that night post the run and you will feel amazing the next day, and the next, and the next ...........

Always good to run with someone who is pretty much your same pace, helps to chat away as well and numb the passing kms is to set your sights on someone up front who is setting a pace slightly faster and like a "pac man" start hunting them down .......helps even more if it is a very shapely pair of legs you are chasing (will leave it up to you whether it be a he or a she ????).
Keep the heart rate down as it is so easy to blow too early trying to sprint out of the starting blocks with all the other grey hounds, 42 kms is a long way and slowly slowly its amazing how many of those supposed grey hounds you pass along the way.

The best of all is that the full marathon includes good stretches of the original Knysna Forests and not the plantations mostly found on the half. Running in real ancient forest is an absolute buzz and really helps to re -energise you, so look around and enjoy the passing show, more often than not a Knysna Loerie will tease you as it glides in and out of the canopy, showing off its splendour.

Either way running the Knysna Forest marathons is a great deal of sheer enjoyment as it includes all the "gees" of your serious athletes right through to those who are out for a fat jol and whatever your fancy you are guaranteed to enjoy the vibe !

Look out for the Pennypinchers Duo all dressed so and hey who knows you might be Adventuring Racing next !
Chris (Che Che)

The Enricos Lagoon Challenge

This is the final event of the Knysna Oyster Festival and of the Big 5 Challenge. The canoe race is open to all types of paddle craft and is always great fun despite the sore legs and often sore heads that follow the Forest Marathon. The course makes the most of the Knysna lagoon and takes you through the Waterfront as well as the Thesen Island canals. There is a short portage on each of the two laps which is great to get out and stretch the legs.There is a shorter 6km race for the youngsters and the not so fit but the long race is 18km. There are always a couple of racing snakes in the field so if paddling is your game you will need to look out for that wave at the start and try and hang on as the bunches formed. If like me you have done the Big 5 then I suggest find a good wave and hang in there until the end ( there are always more doubles than singles ).Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere at the Knysna Yatch Club afterwards and pat your self on the back for a good fun and healthy week in Knysna.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cold weather and magic trail runs by Lettuce and Netski

Cold and wet but still out there!!!!

Last week must have been the coldest conditions that we have trained in ever. The mercury was not above 5 degrees on any of the early morning or evening training sessions and with heavey rain and snow on the mountains around the Garden Route most people retreated indoors to a glass of red wine and a fire. Youth day saw Chris,Netski and I head into the Harkerville Forest for a run in our newest Helle Hansen kit. Chris wore his new HH Warm ,I was in a HH Hybrid and Jeannette in a HH Longsleeved Cool with a windbreaker on top. Despite the horific cold and wet we all finished the run feeling that we had got our temperatures right with out having to don layer apon layer of gear a tribute to the Helle Hansen gear.The picture above was taken after a two and half hour run through the forest.

On Sunday Chris ,Jeannette and Jeff joined the Plett section of the Mountain Rescue unit to run the first two days of the Titsitikamma Trail with a bit tagged on the end to help with transport logistics. This what Jeannette had to say:

What a stunning way to spend a winter morning a 38km trail run thru the most beautiful wilderness area and right on our door step. Some of the Pennypinchers Team members where lucky and privileged enough to get invited by Drew to do this run. Special permits where need and due to Drew and me being involved in the Mountain Rescue we where allowed to go and scout a certain trail which one finds winding it's way thru our mountains, natural forest, fern covered streams, snow capped peaks and stunning valley's. We started nice and early Me and 5 Fathers ( Drew, Lee, Andrew, Jeff and Chris) who said this must be one of the best ways to spend fathers day!!! Let me just say that theses dad's made me suffer, it took us 5hrs with quite a few exclaiming wow, amazing, stunning picture taking stops thank god for those!!. But wait it did not stop there, Melanie ,Andrews wife so kindly drove to meet us at the finish to drop of our bikes so we could cycle back to the start thru the old Bloukraans pass a nice and easy 23km cycle back. I don't think to many dad's could compare their fathers day morning to this one. Thank you guys for dragging me with you to Drew for organizing it and to Nature for providing us with such stunning places. Netski

Monday, June 14, 2010

Time flies when youre having Fun

With two weekends having slid past without any racing what has the Team been up to you may ask?

The first weekend in June saw Jeff,Netski and James do an awesome mountain bike ride through the back of the Knysna Forest out to the historic Millwood Goldfields. Having recently re read Circles in the Forest, this route put the final pieces of the rough sketch map in the book into place. We crossed the Knysna river way up stream where it would have been crossed in those pioneering days having ridden through on of the last remaining stands of virgin forests in the Garden Route. What a favour Mr De Vaaselot did to us all by regulating the "hout kappers" of the time despite the huge financial hardships they then had to endure. One gets the feeling riding through these areas that the elephants or the spirits of the many elephants that were slaughtered here are always nearby.

During last week I had the huge challenge of taking 60 boys and girls (aged between 11 and 13) from Glennwood Primary School in George for a day of their school camp and introducing them to orienteering at the Ingwe Forest Camp in the Crags. What a day!!!!!! I returned home with ears ringing but with the satisfaction that five of the six groups of kids found all 20 CPs from the map I had made for them and the final group missed two in the confusion of the thunder storm that struck in the early afternoon.

This weekend Jeff headed off for a 120km bike ride with all the cycling heads of state in Knysna . Chris was busy scouting out routes for the up and coming Southern Storm to be run on the Garden Route in September. For those of you that are interested he has found some amazing new routes and the race should be spectacular. I was involved with the SA Marathon canoeing Champs held on The Keurbooms River in a marshaling capacity but sneaked in two great runs and a ride between showing the canoeing who's who where to go.

There are two weeks to go before the Knysna Oyster festival and by next week we will have confirmed all the teams entries into the different events . We will be represented at each and every event except the Oyster eating competition which is not good for ones cholesterol!!!!


The picture below is the old bridge crossing the river at the bottom of a famous pass.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Stanley's Light Mountain Run 29/05/2010 by Che Che Crewdson

Stanley's Light Mountain Trail Run - when you first read this you would beforgiven for thinking that the Run had been sponsored by some privatebrewery!However it has an even more interesting story which we are going to sharewith you as having now been there, done it and got the t-shirt - muchrespect is due to the man who now at 67 years old has done this route over300 times in his life while residing in the Klien Karoo hamlet of Ladismith.

Chris and Rhona along with other Knysna locals Jan Zonnestien ,Christine and John Collins travelled into the Klien Karoo on a very windy and wet Friday and the question on everyone's minds - what was it going to be like come race day ?

Running in MOUNTAINS when the weather closes in can be a very scary andunwelcome experience especially if you are not well equipped.For the Pennypinchers athletes we knew we were ready for any eventualitybeing kitted out with our Helly Hansen technical wear and armed to the teethwith our GU Brew, Chomps and Gels we had an answer for the cold and also forthe energy we would require in the process of covering 2000 m in altitude over the 24 kms we would traverse in some pretty hardcore and spectacularenvironments.

After a very sobering pre-race briefing from event organizer Ugene Nel ofQuantum Adventures on the dangers of not having the right equipment on handwhile in the mountains. (Three Trail Runners had recently died in Europewhen conditions had changed so unexpectedly) The runners prepared for the trek into the mountains.

Having been sent off by the 67 year old Stanley into a very chilly but clearmorning what was going to greet this band of intrepid competitors?The first 4 kms was on farm roads and once off it was hiking track going oneway - UP, UP, UP and more UP until we could hear the "waterwheel ofStanley's Light" turning away in its pristine mountain gorge. Ice coveredmuch of the route in the upper reaches and from the town resembled was cold but no time to worry about this or even pause to enjoythe view.....we had come to race and with conditions underfoot veryslippery in places with some major drops also lurking in the shadows it washead down and concentration ALL THE WAY.The knee wrenching tight downhill switchbacks soon took their toll and for thosewho had taken their Rockets Compression Garments. This was one sure way tonegate many of the problems other athletes were experiencing with cramp, blown quads or stiffness. The final 6 km was a rollercoaster ride with moretight switchbacks that created the ongoing illusion that as close as youcould see the finish line it was going to take a lot longer to get there asthe course meandered like some electrocuted snake all the way to the last100 meters.

Excellent performances from Rhona Zonnestien in the ladies (4th) and Chris achieving a Top 10 in the mens ensured that the PennypinchersAdventure Racing Team had continued to make their mark and most importantly give its team members the chance to test and pass on the benefits to others taking part in the many merits of the products worn and used by the team.To Helly Hansen, GU, Rockets, Earth Scout, Blue Steel, and IslandTribe THANK YOU for partnering us on yet another highly successfuladventure.See the following link for the full story on Stanley’s Light (well worth theread).
for the story about the light