Posts Tagged ‘+Running’

Kurdistan – Around the compound in 80 ways

Here i am in Kurdistan, some great looking countryside around – mountains and great rolling hills, great weather and interesting work, although the operations are yet to get going.

I am restricted to running round the camp permiter, inside the berm walls, which is a 0.4 mile circuit on gravel, sometimes firm, oft times a bit loose and hard work.

The views however are unsurpassed and I think this week ( I have yet to finish the weeks mileage) I will manage around 75km of varied running, so nearly 80  kms…

Steady 10km, 10km with some 10m sprint intervals in the middle, some 200 metre speed endurance sessions slipped into a 10km steady  pace and then the classic one fast lap one recovery lap, then hare and hounds stuf as I chased Paul Dickson round the compound today.

Plenty of the guys are out power wlaking, Paul and a few others are inot the running, although Paul is by far the fittest and kenest here, so thats plenty of motivation , and when we are out running we motivate each other, making the arbitrary laps disappear fairly painlessly.

A gradual development of a zen like mindset is required to run round in circles endlessly, I am generally no good at it as I love linear runs or runs n the hills so this is a bit torturous. however, the views are unsurpassed from the camp, and our Northern camp, to which I may move next hitch is on a kind of elevated fortress like hill with plenty of tarmac around the place.

Even tho security guidelines mean we are all stuck in camp, the views are good for exercising. I am also pushing our contractor to replace the running and exercise bike machines with ones that work and are of decent quality…..

head torch on tonight and off for a few more circuits, maybe an audio book if I get bored as I run….

Photos to follow as the upload speed is proper slow here. Looking forward to field operations beginning in earnest and then at least I can march up some hills too…

Keen to batter the legs to try and maintain fitness………

PS:- My 3rd pair of Adidas Adizero XT4 shoes from V12 Outdoor feel great on this gravelly rocky stuff, and the light weight road shoes – Adizero Adios are a good change of shoe from this now and again just to vary whats on my feet….

Trail Running in Sen Monorom and the elephants

Great to be back on the Elephant Valley Project and catching up with Helen.

I spent a week in Phnom Penh all told until I caught up with H and we both spent some fun time there.

Phnom Penh is a bonkers city – swamped with people during the day but at around 0500hrs one has the strets to oneself and shares the boulevards and waterfront with  many groups of Tai Chi’ers, dancers, runners, walkers, jogers, arm wavers, you name it they are upto it. Its a great time to be out and out we went plentifully , hitting the streets with some really good places t run – past the Royal Palace, and off the the national monument , crossing onto the Russian Theatre Island, its good fun before the traffic  arives in force…..We even had a couple of great bike rides, one out to a distant mound ( locally known as Udoung Mountain but is a wee bump, the fine site of ancient Phnom Penh) . Another day we crossed the Mekong river by fery and fereted about the islands and farmlands of the area, a great day out too, and good exercise, breath of fresh air away from Phnom Penh, amazing how close rural Cambodia is to the mad metropolis, and you can see the high rise constantly in the distance to remind you…

So anyway, out to Sen Monorom, mondulkiri province, way to the East in Cambodia and about 50km from the Vietnamese border, the Ho Chi Minh Trail passed through here apparently…

It is great to see everyone again out here and to see the dedication to the Elephant project, plus the guys with WCS and WWF fighting th good fight to save the forests and wildlif from the incessant onslaught of corrupt government officials and Chinese timber theiving, rubber plantations and the rest. The elephants are great and its good to be back.

I have been running plenty and working on the project in the afternoons, rediscovering tracks from last years visits and finding some really great trails that I didn’t see last time.

Its really dusty right now, everything is covered in a fine red powder, but its great. The sun shines, its the dry season, trails are in great condition, and its not quite too hot yet, probably around 34 mid afternoon, maybe a bit more….

I am working on a Tour De Sen Monorom circuit that may work out at around 40km I hope and have had some good moto trips around with Helen to scout the trails too.

Ready for another week of fun and running, working with the elephants and generally living the life in the bush…..

Photos to follow

A brief run down of where what and how we stayed in Cederberg

I am back at work now and just reflecting on what a great holiday I have just had with Helen and Cori, and ultimately on my own for a few days too.

Trail running wise, Cederberg has been brilliant and I will endeavour to impart a bit of useful information about how to get there and where to stay etc ( based on our own experiences of course) before giving a bit of a run down on the trails and terrain:-

The place is awesome, from Hot thermal springs and accommodation in old Victorian Spa houses to cottages in the middle of nowhere, it is an area maybe 3 times the size of Snowdonia with only a handful of gravel roads running through it and so empty of people….

Helen and I stayed here for a few days mountain biking , running and horse riding

An Oasis of green in the midst of the rocky landscape, a cool place to stay with a lake for a swim too!!

The landscape is made up of  mountainous ridges ancient heavily weathered sandstone it seems with amazing rock formations on a grand and a small scale- myriad shapes abound and make for a stunning landscape, as all the hills and mountains bristle with these shapes. Cast in between are Oasies of green and water where private farms are part of the reserve management team and provide accomodation and camping in great surroundings

We spent a total of around 2.5 weeks in the area and could have spent many more here, as  the scenery lures you on to see what is round each corner. The variety in the place is huge too, some areas remind me of Balochistan in Western Pakistan, or Omani jebels with grass on, and others look like limestone pavement areas in the Yorkshire dales (only grander).

Fresh water in pools and streams are unexpected in this dry looking place, but seem to pop up out of nowhere when least expected although I suspect these dry up as summer pushes on.  During my runs I drank many mountain streams big or small, as long as the water was flowing as the crystal cool water was tooood to pass up and in the heat I was draining my Salomon SLAB bag quickly. ( Although caution should be advised – I am not recommending this just in case I develop a case of worms later, but I was sure the waters were clean…)

How to get there:-

Well the area is a designated wilderness area 200km North of Cape Town, the terrain rising from around 600 metres up to 2000m in places and remote and unspoilt. The nearest town you would pass is Citrusdal, a strange place – a one road town with a good Spar Supermarket for provisions. Picketberg about 30km before this is also good for stocking up. Don’t rely on Citrusdal Tourism office for good information, they seemed a bit out of touch when we visited it.

The Cederberg website has plenty of info as has Cape Nature, and generally from all the tourist camps there are many trails accessible for bikes or walks / runs etc up into the hills. I also booked some accommodation through Cape Nature, who own cottages in and around Algeria, some with and some without electricity but all in great locations. There is also a

We had a car to get in and out , which gave us a lot of freedom, we stayed in a number of areas and didn’t waste time getting about. From the Baths, South of Citrusdal to Kromsrivier and Algeria in the middle of the park we got a good flavour of the place and really enjoyed our time there.

If you want direct access to the trails and reduce travelling time, then it is worth staying inside the area as outside the area the number of trails are limited due to private land issues and there is not the same history of paths and access that there is in the UK and Europe. I do recommend a trip to the Baths, such a cool place to chill out in hot springs under the sun or stars… either before or after a trip into the area.

Allow about 3 hours to drive into the Cedeberg Wilderness from Capetown, and maybe an extra hour to account for shopping on the way. Cost of accomodation ranged from around £19 pp per night for 3 of us in a self catering apartment at the Baths, to around £40 per night for 2 in a cottage in the reserve areas themselves – kromsrivier/ Algeria etc etc. The Algeria house cost about £44 per night but could accomodate 4 people comfortably..

The parks raise money through a permit system for using the paths and trails. Usually if you are staying one particular area, the trails / park fee is included for that particular area, but if you go to another zone you will have to pay, usually around £5 to £8 per day maximum to access trails . A bit different to the UK but it seems to work, as a lot of conservation management work goes on in the areas, for wildife and plants , and the area is a world heritage site….

Whilst in the area with Helen and Cori ( my wife and stepdaughter) we walked , looked at San rock art, saw great rock formations, cool waterfalls, rode mountain bikes and horses and generally had an awesome time.

I am looking forward to writing about the running bit next but wanted to put the place into context for any would be visitors because in my opinion the lonely planet is a bit hard to follow for the area and doesnt do it justice.

(By the way a 1:50 000 map can be purchased from the permit offices in the park  ( Algeria/ Kromsrivier / Dwarsrivier  or from Cape nature  in Clanwilliam..

Adidas Adizero XT4

I haven’t got my hands on my pair of these yet but I am very keen to get them and have a go. Hopefully I will have these down in Capetown for my jaunts whilst on Hliday. I am seriously excited about that, hwever that’s another story..

I may seem obsessed by shoes but hey, I am constantly searching for a bit of a holy grail shoe, and although I know one shoe will never fit all the terrain, and I need some super aggressive Inov8 shoes for the steep fells, I keep seeking a good inbetweener to plug the gap between the North Face Hayasa and the Inov8 / Sportiva Vertical K..

Here is a review from of the Adizero XT4

These could be the shoe!! They have more grip than the Salomon Crossmax so better on muddier trails and a bit more padding / cushioning than the TNF Hayasa’s and a bit more grip – in fact 7mmm of continental rubber lumpy bits to dig into those muddy trails and also a bit of underfoot cushioing for the rocky bits too….

They are not too minimal and still light and the drop from heel to forefoot is 6mm so they will be an easier shoe for someone who is not completely transitioned to running in flat shoes but wants light and fast and increased  ground feel and neutral, whilst still having some cushioning… They should  keep my feet protected whilst maintaining stability…We shalll see

I will be using them and then write a preliminary review of them probablly after my Cape Town Trip….

By the way, I had a good 9 km blast along the dirt road back to Palma this evening as a hard tempo session. a km warm up and then pushing it on the pace for a 37 minute run, short but hard, before my colleague pickedd me up in the works vehicle on the way to a brief safety meeting

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