Justin

12 posts

PUFfeR 2018 – The (in)experiences of a novice.

The PUFfeR (Peninsula Ultra Fun Run) is an 80km (approximately, depending on how well you know the route and the shortcuts) part road, part trail run hosted by Fish Hoek Athletics Club, which starts at Cape Point and finishes in Sea Point taking runners along the mountain range of the Cape Peninsula. 2018 is the 23rd year of this event, started in 1995 by a Belgian dude called Jean-Paul van Belle along with 17 other runners, this year they took 180 entrants.

The slogan “Running in heaven feeling like hell” is the perfect description of this race!

The route starts at roughly 5.30am (actually, as soon as everybody’s off the buses) in the dark and goes through the Cape Point Nature Reserve for about 13km to the reserve gate at checkpoint and refreshment stop 1, left onto Plateau Rd to Red Hill, the first biggish climb (half of the John Korasie route, backwards). On Red Hill before the descent into Simons town the rout takes a left at Pinehaven for a few km’s down a scenic tar road to the Waterworks at Lewis Grey Dam, there the runners hit the first trail section, over Black Hill and down into Fish Hoek for some more tar; up Ou Kaapse Road past Noordhoek Manor the route turns off onto the old Wagon Trail up another big climb and over into the Silvermine reserve, another climb on some tar before turning off onto Level 5 gravel road which runs along the mountain over the Tokai forests and around to the Vlakenburg trail and down a knee-busting descent to Constantia Nek. From here the race really starts with a massive climb from the Nek up past Castle (Camel) Rock to Maclears Beacon, highest point on the range, along the top of Table Mountain and down the long, steep Platteklip Gorge, onto Tafelberg road, past Kloof Nek and up towards Signal Hill where runners encounter the incredibly awesome West Coast AC support station (details about that later), down the hill towards Sea Point and to the finish at Hamilton’s Rugby Club.

West Coast: This year West Coast AC had 13 entries to the race,  2 ladies – Cathy & Jenny, both of whom unfortunately pulled out early due to injury. And 11 blokes, 10 of whom were at the start. Carl pulled out the day before due to the flu. The starters were Gary, Guy, David, Charl, Rob, Bruce, Malcolm, Marius, Izak, and myself, Justin. I was unfortunately the only one who did not finish, the other 9 all went on to collect their medals. Super strong team we had this year, well done to all the guys who finished. It was a hell of a tough day out on the mountains.

Some West Coasters before the race (click to enlarge):

My failure: So as you read above, I did not finish. I made it as far as Constantia Nek, 56km into the race, and missed the 1.40pm cut off by 10 minutes. I’m quite certain I was the only runner to be cut off at this vital point because the guy I was running with from early in the race, Laurence and myself were the last to make it through the previous cut off at Silvermine meaning from that point we were dead last, jokingly dismissing all the marshals we passed going forward, much to their obvious relief. He took off ahead of me at Vlakenberg and made the cut off by seconds, I couldn’t keep up down that steep rocky decline, especially in road shoes, making me the only runner in the field to be cut off at this most important cut off point. To be honest, I was relieved because by this stage, after 56km, I was broken. Looking ahead from the top of the mountain I was standing on at the mountain I’d have to climb on the other side of the Nek the thought of pushing my fat ass on up that mountain to Maclears Beacon and down Platteklip on legs that were exhausted, knees aching and feet burning was daunting to say the least, I was secretly quite ok with not going any further despite my usual hearty determination telling me to keep going and not give up. It was an uncomfortable inner battle of decisions between my head and my heart. But, my head had won, I’d already given up. I sat down for 2 minutes to enjoy the view, then hobbled off down to my own finish, both hating myself for now being a deliberate quitter, and also incredibly sad at the knowledge that I’d screwed this up and would be missing out on that beautiful medal that my friends would all be wearing later that day.

You see, I completely underestimated this race. Having done the 90km Comrades Marathon two months earlier I thought the (mediocre) training I’d done for Comrades with a few training runs in the mountains prior to Puffer would be more than enough, I mean, it’s “only” 80km, right? I thought I could take it easy from the start and keep a steady run-walk strategy and make it comfortably. Well I should have known when I was one of the last out of the Cape Point reserve gate at about 13km that I already had this theory wrong, but I didn’t click yet, even as the back-markers passed me heading towards Red Hill, I thought I was ok, and this was just an exceptionally strong field of runners (something I HAD noticed at the race briefing 2 days earlier, I was the only fat guy in the auditorium. Somehow I thought this was funny!) I also wasted time in the reserve taking photos, again thinking I had more than adequate time to bugger around with the camera. Of course I got some stunning photos, but to the detriment of my race, partly. Having listened to some advice in hindsight it became clear that “taking it easy” on the road sections is not gonna suffice, it’s important to make up distance as fast as possible without burning out on the road sections to provide adequate time on the trails to make the cut-offs and not finish in the dark.

Heading towards Red Hill I hooked up with Laurence and we decided to go all the way to the finish and pace ourselves comfortably. I didn’t know it yet but this was also a mistake. See, he had done Puffer last year and convinced me the pace we were going was more than enough. I stopped making calculations in my head and went along with his theories. Boy did we get them wrong, we were going too slow, too much walking at times we didn’t need to. When we got to the Silvermine checkpoint, coming up the road the supporters were yelling we had just 2 minutes to make cut off. I thought they were taking the piss, we believed that 11.20am cut off was at the previous checkpoint an hour back at the bottom of Wagon Trail (somebody there told us that!) Anyway, after some refreshments and a good 5 minutes for a badly needed number 2 we headed off to the Nek with only 2 hours to get there. We got our pacing wrong here too, much too slow at first and having to push hard later. By the time we got to the trails leading up to Vlakenberg I was knackered, yet still hoping to make the cut off. At the top of Vlakenberg before the descent Laurence went flying past me and down the trail to the Nek determined to make it despite his dodgy knee, I didn’t have the legs left to go down that descent at speed, nor, honestly, the desire. I let him go, resigning myself to the fact that my race was nearly over. Honestly, having just missed the cut at Silvermine and being stone last all the way from there had already broken my mental resolve, I knew I’d stuffed up and the new goal of having to play catch up and chase cut offs was already a deal breaker. 

However, despite failing due to a series of poor decisions and being grossly unprepared for the race, it was not all negative! I really enjoyed the experience as far as I did get. It’s a fantastic race in some spectacular places, if you are strong enough to do this and fortunate to get an entry it is well worth every moment, albeit a long tough day out!

I learned an enormous amount from my experience at Puffer, and I’m determined to come back tougher and stronger next year to fetch my medal with a strong finish. I have decided to skip Comrades next year in order to train properly for Puffer, the plan is to do a LOT of mountain running in the next year, loads of road and trail and strength training, and go back to Puffer with the strength and confidence to nail that bad-ass as a midfield finisher! (Providing of course Andy, the organiser, accepts my entry next year!! Pretty please Andy!!)

My journey to PUFfeR: As previously mentioned, I ran Comrades in June. It was not a good race for me this year because, like Puffer, I went in overweight and under-trained due to an overconfidence from having a good finish last year at my first Comrades, however I still finished in time, by a few ball-hairs, but I got my back to back, and regarded Comrades and the journey there as sufficient training for the road parts of Puffer. Basically, a lazy excuse to not have to do too much more.

I ran in the mountains a few times, getting to know the equipment I had and building up what I needed as money permitted. I entered and participated in the Bastille Day 25km which I absolutely enjoyed. That was a big confidence boost since that was a proper mountain trail run that I did fairly comfortably and wasn’t last. Thereafter through the Puffer Whatsapp group we organised weekly training runs on the actual routes, a few of which I dropped out of, for various reasons, basically I didn’t take them seriously enough. I ran sections of the route from Red Hill to the finish only once each. Not enough. Then came the taper leading to the big day. Through all this training I was not watching my diet and packed on about 6kg shortly after Comrades (the post ultra hunger from this one was insatiable and unstoppable), leading up to Puffer I lost about 2kg.

Let me tell you from experience – being overweight and taking on an ultra trail is NOT a bright idea at all !!! The extra energy you need to use to move the extra weight and the stress on the knees is huge. This fact, I believe, is the main reason I was so buggered by the time I was done. My knees were shattered and I was exhausted. 

Again, lessons learned!

Some photos I took at the beginning in the Cape Point reserve (click to enlarge):

My race: The day started with a 1am wake up alarm, all my kit was packed and prepped over the 2 days before, a full printed A4 page worth of stuff. Bruce and his wife Tammy and her dad picked me up at 2am, we picked up Izak and headed to the Cape Point Reserve gate where we get the bus to the start. I think we were second there, after the organiser. The toilets hadn’t even arrived yet. Over the next hour and a half the other runners arrived, there was an excited buzz in the cold night as we filed onto the buses for the long drive to the start at the tourist centre in Cape Point, close to the lighthouse.

We were no sooner off the buses and had a quick leak in the bush (I’m sure almost everybody did) when the race was started. This is the part I liked most about the race – running in the cold dark of night with the only light being the stream of headlights on the runners like migrating fireflies, and the bright stars above. No cars, buildings or other man made lights around, besides the distant glow of the city across the horizon. As we progressed the morning faded in slowly as the sky lightened and changed colour and broke into a beautiful day, perfect for the occasion!

The first checkpoint was at the gate, I forget which clubs hosted which checkpoint and refreshment station, which were roughly 10 to 15km apart. Each station was well stocked with food and drinks and varying degrees of vibe and cheer, some were well attended with crowds of supporters and runners seconds. But none came close in intensity and enthusiasm as the West Coast station!

Talking of supporting seconds, I have to say a huge thank you to Tammy Wood and her dad Anthony, for looking after me throughout the route. They were at all the strategic points with supplies, refreshments, clothes changes, toilet paper, etc. It’s vital to have support at this race, and we had the best.

Well, I plodded on slowly for the rest of my race, enjoying the people and the awesome scenery… you know the rest!

From Constantia Nek, when I retired, I got into the car with Tammy who was just waiting for me, and we drove around to the West Coast station on Signal Hill to wait for our club runners to arrive and pass through, all of whom were surprised and disappointed to see me there, obviously having bailed early. I was very happy for them all for doing so well.

The usual cheesy selfies:

The West Coast Station: This has to be mentioned! The WC station on Signal Hill has over the years become an epic part of this race, a club tradition to put on a show as the best support station on this race by miles! Positioned about 4km from the finish at the top of the very last climb on the day, it is a refreshing relief to the exhausted and broken runners who for a brief moment get to relax, enjoy a drink including beer, wine, OBS, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, etc, hot pancakes, sweets and loads of food choices. The ladies rubbed sore shoulders, the music and enthusiastic cheering made them feel like celebrities briefly. They left there revitalized for the final stretch to the finish.

A hearty thank you to Evette and her team of eager supporters who all played a role, from running drinks orders up the road to the tent (some racking up near half marathon distances on their Garmins), Louise on pancakes, Lisa on the camera, Justin R with his new GoPro, the name-checkers, hostesses with welcome drinks, dancers, DJ’s, Jacqui with her splash bucket, etc, etc. You guys were all fantastic! Well done!

The photos of the West Coast station (Facebook)

Justin Roux’ GoPro video of the WC station (Facebook)

A final word: This first Puffer was personally a bag of mixed emotions from the excitement of getting there and the disappointment of not finishing. I’ve learned a lot about what to expect for the event and about myself and my own shortcomings and potential capabilities. I know that with the right training and my head in the right place I can finish this thing easily enough, and next year that is what I will do. I regret missing it this year but the sulk and pity was over by the time I got home that day, I will use the lessons I’ve learned from this to come back strong as an ox next year and collect my medal at the finish and drink that free beer with pride!

Thank you for reading!

PPC Bergmarathon

Another lovely, well organised race out at Riebeek Kasteel in the Boland farmland district. The vibe was there on a chilly cloudy morning, along with West Coasters in droves. Only 5 of the clubs’ most hard core took on the tough marathon around the mountain, while the half marathon was almost half West Coast with many familiar faces and a few new ones in club colours.

The morning started with a car pool of 5 of us driven by Naz, 2 guys, 3 chatty ladies on the back seat, lots of good conversation for the hours drive, with a drunk driver mounting the pavement and taking out a street sign in front of us in Malmesbury adding to the entertainment. We arrived to find West Coasters in swarms. 

The small field of the marathon kicked off at 7.30am, with the half starting at 8am. Apparently there was a 10km and 5km fun run, I didn’t see them or who was participating.

Sean Falconer of Modern Athlete Magazine was his usual chirpy self on the mic at the start and finish, (though he STILL doesn’t know my name despite many interactions over the years, but he knows Naz! Pfft!).

The half kicked off with great a load of cheer down a short steep hill and out of the PPC factory grounds and on to the main road back towards the quint arty town of Riebeek kasteel, passing through the rather uglier Riebeek West on a route dominated by rolling hills that added to the challenge of the race. Zita and I ran together all the way from about 5km pacing a comfortable speed with lots of conversation and cheering other runners to make the time fly past faster, finishing at 2h15m with Thelma having joined us in the last few km’s.

We passed the long wait for our chauffeur Naz to finish with photo’s, selfies and chit chat with the many other West Coasters already finished. I filled a nagging gap with a boerie roll.

In all an enjoyable morning on the road. I only have one complaint – the old stuck record chant of the mess at water stations. This time the organisers to blame as there were quite a few water stations with NOT ONE bin. Many of us do try to run clean and simply refuse to drop our litter on the ground, but when no provisions are made for rubbish it is annoying and awkward. I carried my empty water sachets in my vest pouch but I dropped a cup at a water table and felt really bad for doing so. It’s really not fair to bang on at the runners all the time about litter and even depriving us of water at some races, yet at others the organisers simply don’t do their bit. Ironically Sean Falconer is the campaign leader for RunClean yet at a race he’s MC’ing there’s no bins.

That’s my contribution! Thanks to my team West Coast for many reasons to be a proud team member!

Here’s my pics. Feel free to add more in the comments below.

Blog Contributor Guidelines

The idea behind this website is to be a one stop all inclusive information portal for both potential members and existing club members. Besides general club information we also would like the website to be interactive with contributions from the club community. To do this we are welcoming members of the club to become registered contributors to the News & Blog page, we only ask that contributors adhere to a few basic guidelines.

To become a contributor please contact Justin at admin@westcoastac.co.za, I will set up a user name and password with access to compose and upload posts with images and send you some basic instructions to create interesting posts. Of course your access to the website will be limited to posting blogs posts only.

  • Images: You are welcome to upload some photo’s to your post if they are your own images. If you upload somebody else’s images you need to ensure the owner has given you permission, and you need to credit the person who supplied the images.
    Please ensure the images are of decent quality and not too big in file size. In the image settings a width of 300px is suitable, you can select the “Link to Media File” option then the images will open in a full screes lightbox window when clicked.
  • Links: Text and images can be turned into links to other pages, websites and media files as required. Please ensure firstly that in the link settings you select “opens in a new window”, and CHECK the link to make sure it goes to the intended page and the content is clean!
  • DO NOT post advertising or inappropriate content, even as a joke. Offenders will have access rights permanently revoked and you will be named and shamed.
  • Keep the content to running, across all genres, in fact we’d love contributors from road, trail, cross country, walking, track, etc. Not just road races. But this is a running club website, not your personal diary or self-glorification platform. Admin reserves the right to disallow the publishing of non-suitable content to the blog page. All posts will be moderated (checked for suitability, NOT edited!) before going live.
  • Start your article with some facts about the event. Location, route, distances, hosting club, etc.
  • Write about some interesting observations about the event such as weather, vibe, the organisation, praises & complaints, etc.
  • Then tell your personal account from the perspective of a West Coaster.
  • Add your picture gallery to the bottom of the text content.
  • Make it interesting, funny, fascinating and not just factual.
  • Feel free to share your post to social media when it’s published!

If contributors can adhere to these general guidelines the blog content will be consistent and interesting enough for readers to come back for more.

For any queries please contact Justin, Website Admin, on 0617468928 or admin@westcoastac.co.za.

 

Cape Town Festival of Running 21km

The Cape Town Festival of Running half marathon started at 7.30am on the Sea Point Promenade, routed through Bantry Bay to Camps Bay and on towards Bakoven for a while then turned back to finish at the same place as it started. Hosted by the Hewatt running club, the event also featured a 100km and 50km Ultra in loops around Sea Point and a 25km relay all the day before.

The weather on the day was unexpected, with a hot dry Berg wind in the middle of winter runners found themselves struggling a bit in the energy sapping atmosphere, this coupled with a serious lack of water on route and badly congested water tables far and few between many runners got uncomfortably thirsty. That’s my experience and I didn’t speak to another runner who felt otherwise. Something the organisers will need to look at in future. Most of us are all for the RunClean initiative but if the organisers are going to make us queue at water tanks with cups for water they seriously need to streamline the process, because it didn’t work today. I also found registration to be quite disorganized, but it wasn’t something that bothered me. In all the event was fun and sociable on a scenic, not too difficult route and seemed to be well attended and enjoyed, despite the dry mouths!

From a West Coast perspective, the club was once again proudly well represented with many runners in club colours taking on this race with lots of cheer and smiles and camera’s all over. As always it was noticeable how most West Coasters acknowledge each other on the road way more than other clubs seem to do. The new members seemed somewhat taken aback by all the greetings by fellow club mates, but they’ll soon fit in. It’s inspiring what a friendly and encouraging group of athletes West Coast comprises of.

There was no club gazebo at the finish, so the club crowd dissipated off to their Sunday lunch destinations rather fast after the race.

From a personal point of view, a hearty thanks to Tamara Billimore for the company towards the end, both of us struggling with injuries so we quite happily walked and chatted the entire last 5km right through to the finish line, rather comically and unceremoniously.

 

Images below courtesy of Peter Chong:

2018 Comrades Awards

The West Coast 2018 Comrades Awards evening was held at the club house on Tuesday 24 July 2018. The fantastic and informative presentation and video was created and presented by WCAC Comrades Guru – David Yuill as liquid refreshments flowed copiously in true West Coast style.


The Presentation:

Puffer Donations

Hey awesome West Coasters.

The Puffer race is coming up on the 18th August, many of our fellow West Coasters will be participating in this grueling 80km part road, part trail race from Cape Point to the Waterfront, and as is tradition West Coast AC will be hosting the most awesome support station of the day. To do this we need your help, not just in numbers of supporters on the day but also some donations of food and drink are required to support and replenish our runners.

Have a look at the list on the left to see what is required. Make your selection on the form on the right BUT BEFORE YOU HIT SUBMIT PLEASE SEE THE LIST AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE TO CHECK IF YOUR CHOICE HAS NOT ALREADY BEEN DONATED IN FULL! When you hit Submit your selection will also appear on the list of donations at the bottom (refresh the page).

Please bring the non-perishable items to the club on Tuesdays and give it to Evette.

PERISHABLE items are please to be brought to Evette at the club on 16 August.

Any queries please contact her on socialofficer@westcoastathleticclub.co.za.

As always we are very grateful for the support we as a club get from our members, thank you!

NON PERISHABLES

200g box Ceylon tea 1
1kg Tin Hot Chocolate 1
200g box Rooibos Tea 1
Sugar 1 kg
1ltr Long life milk 8
Castle Lite 6 pack 4
Windhoek 6 pack 4
Amstel 6 pack 4
Big bottle OBS 1
5ltr Spring Water (still) 5
2 ltr Coke 7
2 ltr Cream Soda 7
Chips (salt flavour) 4 pkts
Pretzels (large bag) 2 pkts
Marmite 1 jar
Peanut butter 1 jar
Cup A Soup boxes (veg or chicken flavour) 4
Mini Bar Ones/chocolates 4 pkts
Nuts 4 pkts
Dates 4 pkts
Jelly Sweets 7 pkts
Cinnamon 1 bottle
Foil (large roll) 1
Moov spray 1
Toilet Paper roll 6
Carlton Towel roll 2

PERISHABLES

1kg Baby Potatoes bags 5
White bread (the bigger loaf) 3
Biltong any amount
Droewors any amount
Bananas 3kg
Oranges (2.5kg pocket) 2

Bloggers Wanted…

Do you enjoy creative writing?
Are you a little tech savvy with a computer?
Do you regularly attend races in West Coast colours?

If yes to the above, we would love for a few club members to volunteer as contributors to the blog on the club website. We need people to write fun, interesting and informative articles about races and events, from a West Coaster’s point of view, including photo’s.

Interested members can contact Justin, the club web developer and administrator. I will give you a set of guidelines to work within and your own custom log-in access to the web portal to compose your blog. All contributions will of course be checked before being published, not to modify your content, rather just as a precaution to ensure inappropriate content and spam is not uploaded onto the website. Trusted contributors will eventually get publish rights.

This is a great way for the club website to be about West Coast, by West Coasters.

Regards,
Justin
admin@westcoastac.co.za

Norrie Williamson Training Program

From Malcolm Lomberg on the club Facebook page. 9 July 2018

We are launching the second season of the Norrie Program with a 1 mile tester at Parow Athletics track on Wednesday 18th & Saturday 21st July at 6pm. Warm up 10 min before as sunset is at 17h57 and light becomes a problem for time keeping.

**UPDATE: Those wanting to join the Norrie program please send myself Malcolm (0832613613) or David Yuill (0724676034) an estimated 1 mile time if you have not managed to do it yet. We need these ASAP. **

The Norrie training program is open for all members to join. There is a joining fee with a 6 months or 12 Month option.

The program is there to guide us with the following

1. Correct running style & form
2. correct training methods (Low heart rate & quality sessions)
3. Programs for short medium & long distance

The programs are designed & structured to improve performance, speed, & endurance while limiting injuries fatigue & burnout.

Who should join?

All new members, Members who would like to achieve a specific goal or time

The 1 mile test will help us group you into similar paced groups for the various groups. These groups are very important as it keeps us motivated, focused & consistent. It’s also way more fun training in groups.

We are looking at kicking off in the next 2 weeks. Those who can’t make the session but want to join pls time yourself preferably on a track and mail your time to us

yuilldave@gmail.com & maximus@iafrica.com

Looking forward to a great training experience with all.

Coach Alan Green’s training blog page

Image may contain: Alan Green, standing, outdoor and nature

This is a blog page.

This is coach Alan’s very own blog page.

This is a blog page on the West Coast Athletic Club website.

This is just random waffle to test the category blog as a separate blog page.

Hopefully coach Alan posts his training here frequently!

Winter club run times

Hi all,

Please note that as of this week, 17 April, we move our Tuesday evening club runs back to 5.30pm for the winter, because it gets dark earlier and the safety of our members is important.

Try to be at the club by 5.15pm to catch the pre-run announcements, before we head off at 5.30pm for our 5km or 8km pack runs. Then please join us afterwards for a chat and a drink at the bar. The tennis club is not charging us rent, they make a small profit from us supporting their bar, so let’s support our hosts by indulging in a few post-run social drinks.

Time trials will continue every second Tuesday, approximately. Have a look here for more info on time trials and for recent members times, see how you compare to the rest.

Also, for those who take part in the Thursday evening run in the vlei from McPhersons, those also start earlier. 5pm for the 10km and 5.30pm for the 5km. Chat to Rodney Russel for more info (find him on Facebook). The guys usually hang around for half price burgers and a drink afterwards too.

New Website Under Construction

Hello and welcome to the first blog post of the sparkling new West Coast Athletic Club website.

This entire website is under re-development. Please be patient as the various elements of the site are designed and constructed gradually as we progress to build the most awesome running club website in South Africa. The project is mostly a one-man-job, done as a free contribution by a passionate member of the club and running community.

At this stage there is no final date set for completion as various elements come online as time for development permits, thereafter the project will be ongoing as constant updating will be required to keep the website relevant, interactive and attractive to visitors.

Among the features of the site will include:

  • A bold, interactive and dynamic home page featuring links to interesting and important pages, news items, events, etc.
  • Full social media integration with the club’s various social media platforms, including live social feeds in the footer of each page.
  • A comprehensive, interactive events calendar featuring dated links to detailed races and event listings which will contain standardized information such as logistics, a Google map, event details and links to event websites. Our website will become one of the popular race listing sites in the Western Cape.
  • A regularly updated New feature in a blog format with updates about the club and it’s events, members, etc.
  • Various training related pages including a blog style “Coaches Corner” featuring fascinating training articles by our in-house coach, Alan Green. Also training programs and events for all styles and levels of running.
  • An interesting yet not overwhelming photo gallery.
  • Results of West Coasters from various events.
  • All other relevant club info such as club history, kit, membership details, intro to the Committee, club standards, fundraising, members testimonies, club awards and recognition, new members welcome and contact information.

Should you wish to contribute any suggestions, questions or criticisms please don’t hesitate to contact the website developer at admin@westcoastathleticclub.co.za and I’ll respond as soon as I can.

Regards,

Justin