Meet Bernita, “The Butterfly Lady”

bernita

So what’s up with the “Butterfly Lady” ?

Believe it or not, there is a story behind the butterfly trail.

At each and every race Bernita leaves behind a black and white paper butterfly, always in a tree of some significant spot.

“Why?” people would ask.

“Well, I am doing this for my precious mom who I miss dearly. My mom passed away the day after Mother’s Day 2013, and that night I had a vision of millions of butterflies. Days after I was diagnosed with life threatening blood clots, there was one butterfly in the house for two weeks! ( I still have it ! ) What amazes me, thinking back at all the happy, sad and challenging moments I had in my life, a butterfly was always present.”

Asking Bernita how it came about for her to start the butterfly trail, this was her response.

“When I started running I decided to dedicate my runs to the precious Saturdays I spent with my mom when she was still with us. She taught me that one should always push your limits and go beyond whatever your current circumstances might be and to identify something in life that motivates and drive you. I saw how she always gave her very best; often in days that were not easy at all and this brought me to the very real realisation that one should put something out there to challenge you.”

Running became my escape, my so called “me time”, my time dealing with everything I could not help her with.”

I asked Bernita what this process and running specifically did for her. Again her response was immediate.

“Through my running I met the most amazing people, made friends, created bonds which only other runners would understand and appreciate. My runs are dedicated to my mom, the person who taught me to always just do my best and my running friends now share this very intimate ritual with me at all the runs we do.”

I also asked Bernita if there was a message she wanted so share with her fellow runners with whom she share the road with at all the races and training runs?

“Yes, thank you for supporting me on this AMAZING adventure and thank you for your love and encouragement which you always so generously share with me. This year I am doing my first Comrades, The Ultimate Human Race, and I guess you all now know what will be at the end of the Comrades adventure, yes, my butterfly!”

Since she mentioned Comrades, I asked Bernita why she decided to challenge herself with this iconic race, “The Ultimate Human Race” ?

“The words of Tommy Lasorda I think says it all. He said, ‘The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination.’ When I decide on something, then I do it. Simple as that. I give it my all, nothing less. I always wanted to run and to date I have completed four ultra marathons, something I would have never even dreamed of doing, but I did. Sometimes things do get in the way in life and hinder or even stop you from doing what you’ve set out to do, but even with the possibility of setbacks and hindrances, I will give my all to make it happen and to realise my dreams and goals because it is something that I can do for myself. Someone once told me that I am resilient,  and I somehow always remember this when something gets in my way, trying to stop me doing what I want to, like doing an important race. Somehow I always bounce back and manage to do it. Comrades has become my next challenge, and I know this race is going to push me way out of my comfort zone, but that is where the challenge lies. Like I said, after the run on the 29th of May, the butterfly trail will continue.”

Any final words from you Bernita ?

“Yes, don’t just breathe, LIVE”

That folks is the story of Bernita Bornman, “The Butterfly Lady”. Look out for her at the races and see if you can spot her butterflies. This is once again such a good example why we should always try to run for more than ourselves. It also underlines my motto; #MakingMilesAndMomentsCount

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/bernita.bornmann

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South Africa first to show support for Canada’s First National Relay Day for Youth

Showing their support to Canada’s first ever National Relay for Youth, an awesome bunch of runners in Pretoria, South Africa, did a solidarity run on Sunday, 24 April 2016.

They measured out a 15km route through the quiet streets of Brooklyn and Groenkloof in Pretoria and athletes could then do a single lap (15km), a second lap (30km) or the ultimate 3 lapper, covering 45km. This was part of their final month of training before many of these runners will be taking on the Comrades Marathon, also known as “The Ultimate Human Race”, on the 29th of May. This race is the ultimate test of stamina, endurance and perseverance as runners have to cover 89.2km between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, South Africa and have only 12 hours to do this.

The recon was done of the entry forms and the results became available this morning and we did it, we have bettered the 13,225km Steve piled up during his cross-Canada relay for Youth in 2015. 542 runners managed to accumulate 16,401km in one morning at one single event. Thank you Magnolia and Friends of Magnolia

jump for joy

 

Canada’s 1st ever National Relay for Youth and South Africa joins in…

I visited Canada visited Canada in October last year where he did the ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in support of a local Canadian charity, the Steve O’Brian Foundation.

I also had the privilege to meet and spend time with Canadian pro athlete Steve Obrien and joined him for a short charity run which ended in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Whilst I was there I was also awarded the special shirt of the foundation as an honorary member for my contribution to and support of the foundation. I was involved with keeping the web page up to date as Steve progressed on his cross Canada relay.

Now South Africa gets involved, once again. This time Magnolia Road Runners agreed to dedicate their pre-Comrades Long Run, which will happen this coming Sunday, the 24th of April 2016, as a solidarity run to show support to the Steve O’Brien Foundation’s great cause. On the 28th the foundation will host their very first National Youth Relay where they challenge children all over Canada to match or exceed the 13,225kms Steve completed in his cross Canada solo relay. [ Read more here : http://www.walkrunnroll.ca/ ] It is important, actually vital, to get the youth moving earlier in their lives rather than late and with this solidarity run, we as Magnolians and friends of Magnolia Road Runners, although we are 13,300kms away from Canada, will #RunAsOne to show our support. The kilometres we do at this long run will be forwarded to the foundation in Canada and will be recorded in their logs.

Let’s run together whilst #MakingMilesAndMomentsCount

solidarity run

 

My Forever Loskop 50km Ultra Marathon

loskop

On the 16th of April, 43 days till Comrades, a massive field of runners lined up for the 30th edition of the Forever Resorts Loskop 50km Ultra Marathon, one of the most loved inland ultra-marathons on the running calendar. This race, presented by the Middelburg Marathon Club, once again proofed to be one of the best organised events.

The first part of the race takes runners through some quiet streets of Middelburg before turning onto the main road towards Loskop Dam. This is a steady and continuous climb to about 22km where runners pass one of the well-known beacons on the route, the Post Office Tower. This is the highest point of the race but do not be fooled, the climbing is not over, yet. Although the decent to the end of this 50km ultra-marathon starts here, it sure offers some deceptive challenges to those not familiar with the route.

For approximately ten kilometres we enjoyed the forgiving run towards Bugger’s Hill waiting for us at around 46km. In this stretch of the road, at around 30km, my lower back and hip started to hurt and I knew this is for me where the challenge will start. Bugger’s Hill was tough. The climb to the top of this unforgiving uphill forced me to dig deep and push forward with determination to reach the top. I kept the bigger picture in mind, Comrades 2016.

The reward waiting at the other side of this notorious hill was worth the hard work indeed as this is where we started to decent again into The Kranspoort Pass. This to me remains one of the most beautiful parts the race and for a moment the sheer beauty of nature just outweighed the pain and discomfort I felt.

On this part of the race, because it offers quiet a great opportunity to make up for some lost time suffered earlier in the race, I have seen a lot of runners who have clearly pushed too hard and this always shows later in the race. The decent is welcome but you have to exercise control and pace properly. If you don’t, it will come back and bite you in the behind sooner or later. On this day I witnessed it again.

When Loskop Dam is finally in sight I was filled with mixed feelings, I knew the end was near but I knew what was lying ahead too, one more challenge; Varady’s Hill, better known amongst runners as “Heartbreak Hill”. This final test awaited us at 47km and offered a steep and continuous and most definitely an unforgiving two kilometre climb placed only three kilometres from the finish. The only way I was going to get to the top of this last hill was to go back to the very basics of the run walk combination. This is where many of those who motored down The Kranspoort Pass paid the price unfortunately. Many of those who flew past me earlier on in the poort area were reduced to walking here.

I must say, that last stretch from the top of Varady’s Hill towards the end of the race felt never-ending. I said to a fellow runner, “I am sure they keep on moving that entrance to the resort further and further away as we approach.” He felt so too ! I finally made it to the left turn into the resort and this is where I felt a lift and was able to finish strong at 05:20:25.

medal

The Medal

This finish time and the effort that went into this day just had to suffice for the day given the challenges I faced after my fall at OMTOM2016. I am happy and think I am still heading in the right direction as we mark today 42 days until Comrades 2016.

 

I just want to pause for a moment here and congratulate all my friends and fellow runners who have been part of the Loskop series, whether you did the half marathon or the ultra, “Well done!”. Your effort and hard work paid off and the medal around your neck is proof of that. If your run did not go according to plan, that is part of being a runner too. It is what we all take away from each run that really counts, lessons learned. They are an invaluable part of our learning experience. Cherish it. Save it. Use it. Share it.

As a last thought, last but definitely not the least. We made use of the private bus service offered by Willie Hall from At Your Service Trips and Tours and what a great experience. Our Loskop experience started at Faery Glen PnP where we boarded the very comfortable coach just before 3am. We left on time and the ride to Middleburg was stress-free and quiet. Our bus driver was the perfect driver. We arrived in Middleburg with ample of time to get our race numbers and to spend time with fellow runners before the start of the big race. I will definitely make use of this service again next year.

See you guys on the road, soon !

[ Some Pictures Here ]

Get up and go ! Twice.

omtom
Finally I have some time to sit down and reflect on OMTOM 2016.

This year I was ready for OMTOM and was aiming for a 05:50 finish. During the build up to Two Oceans I started to run the times I was used to run before I was stopped in my tracks last year with plantar fasciitis; which was a real pain. Excuse the pun !

A major part of the Two Oceans hype is without doubt the expo, receiving your race pack and especially that first glance at your very important race number. When I received mine this year I was immediately reminded of last year’s bad experience because the number of ultras completed indicated two and not three. I actually did complete the third one, but came in seven minutes after the seven hour cut-off. But I have said this before, if it was not for that really bad Two Oceans Ultra last year I am almost 100% confident that I was not going to have a successful Comrades because it took a bad run at Two Oceans to change my game plan for Comrades and that allowed me to finish Comrades and secure my back to back medal.

Back to OMTOM 2016.

Saturday morning it was an early “Get up and go” We arrived to a chilly and rather wet start, but like always there was a clear spirit of excitement amongst runners. The half-marathon athletes started first and soon after that it was out turn to take on the 56km ultra run. We were started off with a slight drizzle still raining on us but soon after that and early in the race conditions changed to what most athletes described as “perfect racing conditions”; and it was.

I started my run that day with a friend Henri with whom I stuck for quite a while until I lost him in the crowds and was on my own. I was on time and stuck to my pacing plan for the day which was going to secure me a definite sub six hour finish.

As we got to the 38km marker a runner from the back I think changed direction and just tipped the back of my right foot and at that time of the race it was enough to take me down. That is where Humpty Dumpty had his great fall. At 38km I went down with a bang and hit the ground really hard, knee first and then landed solidly on my left hip. It happened in a split second and I have to say, the minute I hit the ground fellow runners grabbed me on both arms and helped me up. This was to me just another gesture of “WE RUN AS ONE”.

This was my second “Get up and go” moment of the day. There was only 18km to go and I was determined to finish this race and after all, I was chasing my sub six hour finish.

A mere five hundred meters from where I fell I found a medical tent where I quickly had my hip checked out. I was given an all-clear and there was no time to waste on patching up my busted knee so I just decided to deal with it later. I was back on the road and pushing on to the finish.

I managed to make up for some lost time as we neared Hout Bay but unfortunately when I reached the marathon mark pain and real discomfort started to set in and this slowed me down. I really tried to limit stopping but then came our good old friend Constantia Nek. The camber and steep and endless climb did not help me timing wise either. So when we got to the top I thought I will try and make up some time again but I just couldn’t; not enough anyway.

The last seven kilometres were really hard and I was running in agonising pain and with blood running down my leg. Looked like I returned from a battle field, but I was determined to finish this race with my head held high and I did. I crossed the finish line at UCT in a time of 06:10 and was filled with a mix of fatigue, pride and relieve.

At OMTOM2016 I again experienced the amazing spirit and oneness there is amongst runners, how strangers become friends and how someone you do not know from a bar of soap become that helping hand to pick you up when you fall. It is that pat on the back followed by a “Come on buddy, let’s go…” or a strangers coming from behind shouting. “Come Team Vitality, let’s do this…” The awesome spectators spend their whole day lining the route to support runners from all walks of life because when you stand shoulder to shoulder with strangers in the rain waiting for the race to start we all melt together in a potpourri of awesomeness and determination with one goal in mind, to start and finish the 56km of The Two Oceans, the world’s most beautiful marathon.

Update :

After we got home from Cape Town I had some x-rays done and thank goodness, no fracture. The fall however was worse than I initially thought and this forced me into some serious chiropractor and physio sessions for the past two weeks. I am much better and this weekend I hope to be well enough to take on the Forever Resorts Loskop Ultra Marathon, a 50km run between Middelburg and Loskom Dam in Mpumalanga.