OMTOM2017 Success !

IMG_7702Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra-Marathon is without doubt one of my favorite event on the running calendar. I just love this race, not only because it is definitely the most beautiful marathon in the world, not only because it is in Cape Town, not only because it is well organized, not only because it was my first ultra-marathon and not only because it gives us a chance to take a short break, but also because of the unique challenge of this race.

This year I arrived here in Cape Town with one goal for OMTOM2017, to just run my race and decided that I will be happy with a comfortable sub 6, but most importantly I wanted finish without issues, without injury and feeling good. Race day offered me that and more. My unofficial plan was to try and get a PB in the bag, with a possible 05:47 (previous personal best was 05:50 in 2014 ).

As race day unfolded along this amazing breathtaking OMTOM route, I realized that I was on track to make it happen. At 17 km I had to stop because of severe nausea, but once I’ve taken care of that, it was back to the road pushing towards the finish line. When I got to the bottom of Chapmans Peak I was still on track and felt great. I maneuvered my way up ‘Chappies’ with caution, worked in three proper stops, with about three minutes of walking and then made up some time down the other side. I knew ‘fly now pay later’ will soon be a reality if I was not cautious. Getting into Hout Bay I felt great. I passed the 42km mark and almost fell over when I noticed it was 04:11 into the race. This where I got little positive booster, realizing the plan for the day was busy playing out really well. I planned ahead for Constantia Nek and I once again wondered, can one really be prepared for Constantia? Anyway, I continued and knew every step was a step closer to the finish.

The plan changed slightly when I caught up with Melinda Smal and Esti Kemp from Magnolia about 7 km from the end. Drill Sergeant Smal was not interested in excuses whatsoever so Esti and I just had latch on and run. There was no mercy whatsoever. But it was all good, at this stage I knew the PB was in the bag it was just a matter of what time it was going to be. Turning into the UCT grounds is always a joy, this time round, even more so.

I crossed the finish line with Melinda and Esti at 05:42:54.

#OMTOM2017 mission accomplished !

18057001_10150802279204946_8391414820810149647_nIt is in moments like this that one can appreciate the progress made, when you see the results of hard work and commitment, many early mornings, endless kilometers in the road and hours in the gym. It all comes together on days like this. Hard work pays off, that is for sure. Fact is, good runs like this don’t just happen, you train for it, you work hard for it, but the reward is great when you reach your goals and that is when you move those boundaries a little further.

I want to thank everyone who supported me, all the messages, following me on the app and the calls, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

It is now a short week of taking it easy and then this coming weekend we will take on the Loskop 50km Ultra Marathon, now that is going to be interesting, to say the least. But we will be there and take it as it comes.

[ …more photos here ]


Two Oceans Ultra Marathon is here !


We are four days away from running the Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon in Cape Town on Saturday 15th of April 2017.

The Two Oceans Ultra Marathon is the most beautiful marathon in the world and it is definitely a race very close to my heart because it was my first ultra-marathon I did, way back in 2015. I’ve certainly had my ups and downs at this race, but thank goodness there were more ups than downs, band by “ups” I don’t mean Chappies and Constantia Nek.

My best time was 05.50.14 and I am going to try, with the emphasis on “try” to better this time, even if it just with a few minutes. I just want to finish strong, without any issues and also without injury because a week later, on the 22nd of April I will once again line up for another race, this time the Loskop Ultra Marathon.

My plan for Two Oceans is to get out of the bundle as quick as possible without having to sprint necessarily. There are ways to free yourself from the field without having to do the 100m dash. Then I also want to find my rhythm as early as possible in the race. It is important for me to hold back and run easy and in check during the first three to five kilometres because this is where the speed traps are. It is easy to get sucked in by the fast stream and to start too fast will be the wrong thing to do. I maintain what I always say, “Fly now, pay later”. This is also warm up time, to get the blood flowing, the muscles warmed up and breathing settled.

In the first 28km I want to run a bit on the conservative side and see how it plays out because the challenges are mainly for me in the second 28km and those two iconic hills, Chapmans Peak and then the dreaded Constantia Nek. To prepare for this I have up my average pace a little on the first half to make up for the time wasters on the second lap.

The second half is a challenge, mainly because fatigue is kicking in and you have to navigate those constant climbs and also keep enough fuel in the tank not only to get over Constantia Nek but to be strong to endure the last ten kilometers to the end. This stretch is mostly down but what makes this part a challenge is the twists and turns and the camber that really get to your ankles The final three kilometers should be a breeze for any other event but after 53km you usually feel it and just to make sure you face one more little challenge, that final little uphill leading runners to the finish venue at UCT. The support here is usually very good and the cheering really helps to get runners home.

Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon is one of the nicest finishes for me, coming into those grounds with that sharp turn to the left, a quick straight and then the right turn into the final stretch with the finish line in front of you welcoming everyone home after a long morning on the road.

Well, that is the plan. This is a stepping stone to something bigger, Comrades 2017. It is important for me to just have a good and comfortable Oceans, most of all just enjoy the time on the road with fellow runners from all walks of life, the gorgeous scenery and enjoying the warm support from the side of the road. We love the crowds who come out to support us as we feed of their energy, equally so also all the amazing volunteers making sure we stay hydrated, fed and entertained along the route. Shout out to all of you !

Good luck to all my friends and strangers who will be taking on the 56km Ultra run this weekend. May you all be safe and may you all get the results you were training for. Go out and let’s all Run As One !

Get up and go ! Twice.

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.

The Mother City is ready to welcome us !


With just over a week to go to the 2016 edition of the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon runners from all over will decent on Cape Town to be part of this iconic event on the South African running calendar, the race we all know as “The most beautiful marathon in the world.

On Saturday the 26th of March I will once again be one of 11,000 runners who will line up at the start to take on the long run of 56km from Main Road in Newlands, Runners will once again line the streets though areas like Claremont, Kenilworth, Plumstead, Diep Rivier, Bergvliet, Lakeside, Muizenberg, Kalk Bay, Fish Hoek, Sun Valley, and Noordhoek. From there runners will run along the stunning Chapman’s Peak Drive to Houtbay, then over Constantia Nek, though Constantia, Kirstenbosch, Bishops Court, Newlands and Rondebosch and then the final stretch to the finish at UCT rugby fields at Groote Schuur Estate.

Last year I had a really bad run at Two Oceans. It was by doctors’ orders that I did the Two Oceans Ultra-Marathon and this was purely because I was dealing with a severe case of plantar fasciitis I had to see how my foot would react to the long distance and hammering. I ultimate goal for 2015 was to secure my back to back Comrades medal and this was only going to be possible if I knew how to deal with my injury. Doctor was clear about this, “Your best shot at this medal will be if you can deal with the pain…” I finished seven minutes after the 7 hour cut-off time, but the lessons learned during this run enabled me to change my “game plan” for Comrades and I know for a fact that my bad day at Two Oceans enabled me to finish my Comrades, securing that very special back to back medal.

This year I am far better off than last year this time. The plantar fascia issue is not something of the past, yet, but I can confidently say that I am not even close to where I was last year this time. I am looking forward to going back to do the Old Mutual Two Oceans again. I told my friend Two Oceans this year is a given because I have to go and pick up the pieces from last year, but it is not that bad. We learn lessons with every run and yes, although it is really not a great feeling not to finish in time, it is then the time to get up and try again. I see my bad day at Two Oceans last year as a welcome stepping stone towards my Comrades success.

This is taper time for most of us who are going to take on the Two Oceans Ultra-Marathon. Tapering is crucial; it allow runners to be as rested as possible to maximize race day potential. I have learned that tapering is one of the most important aspects of the marathon training cycle and yet, it is also one of the most difficult to implement because we “fear” cutting back on training. In theory, tapering sounds great- cut back on mileage, sleep in, and eat. Some runners however find this to be really difficult and even stressful because they fear losing fitness and gaining weight. Be assured, reducing mileage is vitally important for full recovery now and for peak performance later.

To everyone taking on #OMTOM2016 next weekend, good luck. Give your best, run your best possible race and most of all, enjoy every moment of it.

Happy running everyone !

Also read :