Thursday, October 27, 2016

African Centurion 2016

I am still asking myself why I entered this event not so much in because its to tough or anything, just why. Let's try and work it out!!

Over the years I progressed in distance I have sought help from various places but in the beginning I learned most from Patty and her merry band of walkers at the walking site. In 2013 I remember this new guy arrived Rob Robertson, and boy did he progress. I encouraged him then no sooner than having to do his debut Marathon on a treadmill at home because of a snow storm cancelling his planned event, the next thing he's eclipsing all my times, after a year of a walking .... then I hear he plans to do 100 miles and I think that's just dof ( dumb for non safricans). And boy he nails it- aha I could never do that so many laps around a wee track.... I feel safe , then he does another.. then he wants to get all 6 except Malaysia does not happen anymore.. guess they not so popular... then some Ozzie joins the walking site guess he met Rob on one of the weird races. next thing I get a message Whats up with this Robben Island Centurion?  I google and believe it or not google does not lie... it appears something is on the go. then lo and behold Rob jets off  meets up with John Killmartin and together they try and get dizzy, 396 laps of lane 3 on a track is 100 miles.... You will never catch me doing that.... Then we hear Robben Island is 20 laps times 8km... my heart says I could do that my head says "Call a psychiatrist!!!!" ....
Speak to Kypie... sounds like fun.. maybe but hey we concentrate on Comrades-- see previous post for that story....

When Entries open I get a message from Rob he's in.. John's next  Kypie not keen.. So I leave it.. but what if we don't get enough response... will they cancel it... In a moment of confusion I enter . but what will my wife do, no ways will she second me by sitting on stool... I know her better than that. So we start agitating people , everyone I walk with hears about African Centurion, but not much interest... About now is when I tried to do some digital canvasing but the official site was not cohesive to that  , Comrades Marathon Face Book Page , no interest ... Comrades Marathon Walkers Facebook page,... not  interest.  Whats this Friends of  page idea.. lets try it. So was born.. This seemed to work gradually we got together various teams.. broken leg apart we seemed top all get there. We had some  interesting planning sessions - talk about the blind leading the blind. The novice giving advice- Why because I am walking further?

So enough background. Liz and I decided to drive down so we could take more stuff.. Tobie Reyneke  the knowledgeable 34 x hundred miler  gave me  some advice, you need good sleep in the days prior -- possibly his biggest cause of baling this time.. Not being the greatest sleeper I though get a mild sleeping pill. In the aisle with Somnil in one hand I ask for stay awake tablets,  the look was awesome! " Not taking those together are you???"  Tobie also said rather have a stay-awake tab and not need it than want it and not have it.. would the bakkie ( Ute) be big enough...   Any way Sunday night I take my Somnil and on Monday we head off for our walk.. Liz thought I was at the end of the Centurion already, I was walking so slow.. I could not get below 8:30 /km I felt like a Zombie all day , I even slept really well on Monday night...

Tuesday we drive past Colesburg to Safari Farm Park about 680km. please the Somnil has now worn off...I had some issue with a big client but trying to logon via edge to terminal server was not easy but I tried various fixes. I had a good nights  sleep again before going through to Protea Farm in Montagu  but we went the scenic route through  Meiringspoort and Ladismith before a quick wine tasting in Barrydale    

As we arrive at Protea farm I discover that the fixes are not working and  .... Oh well carry on looking but no success.. There is no cell phone coverage in the 3 walled room.   We relearned our wind geography with the Anabatic and Catabatics keeping us on our toes.  The next day was a wine tasting day  along with more rusks and dried fruit... Maybe too much dried fruit I am not sure but my Diarrhea started around midnight I lost count of times.  I regretted missing my sleep. but hey we have to take it on the cheek. We made it to collect our numbers after a stunning drive through farmlands and over Franschoek pass. We progressed to the water front to find the Clock tower... Liz had a beer while the boys had some Eton mess dessert at Quay 4.. Then off to Moulle point and memories from Bay to Bay.

We stayed at our friend Rob in Verdehoek , I had a single glass of white wine followed by Steak and Roast veggies followed by cheesecake followed by final packing and prep.

Diarrhea persisted during the night so I managed get some Imodium from Rob and hoped for the best.  As we waited for the ferry it started to rain .. by the time we boarded the rain was over but the wind was up and the sea was choppy. A number of people took sea sick tablets a few more were not so lucky... we arrived to wait for our bus... I got frustrated and just lugged my provisions box , next time wheels or less provisions, I guess wheels are best.

#### Mistake 1 forgot my footpod after my zombie walk on Monday.

It is hard preparing for a race that starts at midday you feel you have so much time but it goes quickly. I taped  my heels with Zinc Oxide plaster as a prevention for blisters.. I nearly forgot my Microspore nipple plasters, but at least I did remember them.. I did forget to take salt tabs the day before but hey no ones perfect.. We set off to the start   Liz came with  and took some pics.. What a start it was Kypie, John, Petro and myself walking in a bunch for almost half the lap. Fundi charged past like she wanted to win the event.. I tried to settle into a good rhythm and keep moving along. first 11km were completed in 1:27 pretty much on schedule, if I could now stay below 1 hr per 7km lap it would be fine. actually I worked out up to 65 minutes would be fine.

####Gripe 1  The Ninja timing only gave us elapsed time, no laps, no last lap time, no pace etc.. So I had to rely on my Garnin.

Up to my 6 lap all was great then the sun said goodnight and the wind was not happy so I guess it chased the sun even further. Boy did it blow. Gauteng Smilers and Pretoria Strollers were excellent in supporting me... Thank you so much..

#### Mistake 2 I stopped to change my top form day tonight, taking off my white top and using a wicking T under a thermal long sleeve. This separated me from my team support.

#### Mistake 3 I did  not change my shorts for my thermal long johns at the same time as I changed my top. so 2 laps later when I was colder I stopped again. these stops were about 4 minutes each, on laps 7 and 9          

#### Concern #1 Being at the coast one expects plenty of Oxygen but I was finding I could not breath deeply.  I tried my various  breathing methods but nothing helped. Almost took up Conita on her offer of an Asthma pump. This stayed like this  to the end and never improved. On though about it well afterwards when I was able to breath normally again anyway.

I was now walking alone and struggling with calves and hamstrings threatening to cramp. I decided to take it as easy as my pacing limits would allow.  It was around this time that Rob Robertson passed me , walking his customary slow but steady pace. As he passed glanced at my watch watch I had slowed to 8:13 which is Robs pace. He said everyone goes through a tough patch and it will improve. I decided  to aanhouwen - just persevere. as long as I could keep my pace below 9min/km I had a chance of success.  At one stage I thought I had become too slow but convinced myself to keep going a bit further
At some stage I  needed the loo and took another Imodium. By now I had eaten from  a wide source of preserved Ginger , Milo bar , Hot Milo, Hot Chicken Stock, Licorice, mars bars, a peanut butter jungle oats bar and most laps I got energade as well as drinking water on my laps.  Funnily I could not eat biltong but did take some salt tabs..   Never touched coke.
I had meant to  recharge my watch but somehow got that wrong and managed to lockup my watch. so that was now useless, thanks Kypie for loaning me your watch, even though the the data fields were different I still got the last lap pace and actual time. This really helped me.   Also the Aleve helped me to reduce the fear of cramping.. not normally one for drugs but in limited cases it is ok. I was peeing regularly showing I was hydrated, on Comrades I never need to pee as I control my input.

During the night somehow Hans waited for me I think and we set off again. He tried to speed me up but I really feared cramps so walked as fast as I could but holding back so as to keep going. It was great to have the support of Gauteng Smilers again and Conita from Pretoria Strollers joined in one lap with Hans. We had numerous laps where every time I came round I was taking 2 laps off- yes I was optimistic!! I watched the moon rise and saw some absolutely beautiful views of Table Mountain, Industrial Cape Town , and some distant views of Bloubergstrand, all these keep me focused on my task.  Walking the  sunrise loop with Liz  was mind blowing. Liz was amazing and did a double loop to support me.


Eventually my team confirmed sub 8:55 to the end and I checked myself and thought actually  9:30 is safe so set out to try and keep going.  It was amazing to say only 35km to go just over a Tough One and actually feel that I could make it.
Unfortunately John Killmartin baled at about midnight with blisters, Liz took the photos. He tried another lap but it was just too sore. Sorry Mate better luck next time, maybe try my two thin socks option.

My Hero Rob Robertson caught me with about 3 laps to go we walked some way together that  was really special. TFOF is a really hard dilemma - the fear of failure  that is-  when Gertrude went past in fear that she was too slow we said easy its safe, but no Rob and Gertude set off on charge.  Maybe Kypie was not as calm as me! Waar is daie donderse Dave nou!
On my second last lap Werner who had baled from vomiting during the night was  down in bottom section near the  sea supporting the last finishers. he gave some energy and a dose of water down my back. Thanks Werner .. on my final lap I was more confident and avoided the cold water and was really chuffed walking my last lap with m,y biggest supporter Liz..

My Diarrhea stopped only in Tuesday night. Guess it was a tough bug!
All I can say is thank you to all who in any way encouraged me , challenged me or inspired me to become a Centurion.
I am the 8th or 9th  South African to become a Centurion. the first was in 1912!!
I am the 18 person to finish the inaugural African Centurion.
Less than 2000 people have become centurions most of these are UK centurions!

Who is gonna join me and become a Centurion?
Thanks to for the pictures more can be found on his page!!! 


  1. You are a legend Dave! Congratulations once again. It just shows how much thought and preparation goes into these races. Wonderful the support everyone shows too.