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Pushing the Limits

So what goes through your mind when you hit the wall 21km into a steep 35km trail run? Or when you are SUPing around Greenland fighting off polar bears? Or running in an icy hail storm? Besides the “holy shit, what am I doing?” / “who signed me up for this” / “I’m too tired to breathe” thoughts.

What is it that you focus on to give you that bout of energy to keep going?


This past weekend I had to dig really deep and scrape together the energy to power each step of my run. My running buddy and I did the 35kms of the first day of the Grootevadersbosch Challenge. It’s by far the furtherest I’ve run, by 14kms, and pretty tough! At 21kms, after a good 4hours of running and climbing I was tiiiiiiiired! I needed inspiration.

Then came day two. Within the first 5kms of the 22km run my left leg was tweaking from my hip to my big toe. I ended up hobbling the rest of the way. Now I really needed inspiration.

It becomes a mind game. Your mental stamina wins over your physical fitness.

Thank goodness I have been surrounded by some incredibly inspiring people lately. Greg Bertish, top SA surfer and SUPer who survived two open heart surgeries and went on to win awards and competitions, commented in a motivational talk that “fine is fantastic”. Just to feel fine is a gift. Then there is Jules Ball, brave SUPer, joining a group of guys paddling 100ks through ice and polar bears, all in the name of charity. Amazing. Another inspiring person in my life lately is my very good friend, Bonnie, who joined me on a run, which by default ended up being a tough trail run, through a HAIL storm. The inspiring part is that she isn’t a “seasoned runner” but wow she was a complete trooper on this day. Covered in hail, running shoes soaked through and icy wind lashing her face she just kept on going with a big smile.

Thinking about these amazing people filled me with such inspiration and strength that I kept going. 5 hours later I crossed the finish line, blinking back tears of relief. Yes Fine is Fantastic….and every step is a gift. To be able to run where so few people have ever set foot was a gift in itself. Then to cross that finish line was an incredible moment. If I can do it anyone can….. Start training your mind and see how far you can fly!

Photos mainly by Jacques Marais

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