Today is a day full of hope.

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A new pain a new gain

Back in November last year, after a pleasant 5km run around the base of Lion’s Head, I decided to commit to  The Two Ocean’s 22km trail run.  It was only the distance I focused on. I was a novice half marathon runner and a novice trail runner. It’s only now that I realise what trail running is.

In sport, in work and in life, preparation is everything.

New Dawn

New Dawn

I won’t lie. It’s been hard training during the Uk winter … In fact, as I’m sure anyone in the UK over the last few months can testify it’s been hard doing  anything. I’ve been getting up at 6, in the dark, when the temperatures are sub zero  and managing a few kms. And at the gym, I’ve been setting the treadmill on ‘hill’ and giving it an hour or so.  This preparation, it turns out was definitely not everything… It turns out there is no Table Mountain setting on the treadmill. Something with  a 60% incline, instead of 4 might have been more like it…

Running with nature

Trail running, I discovered is not so much about the running. It’s about being out there with nature. It’s about scrambling your way along a path, climbing over boulders and under dead trees to forge on a rugged and sometimes invisible path. On a route, where one slip and you’re over the edge of the mountain, a badly placed foothold means an ankle twisted or broken on a rock or far worse as there are no borders or rails to grab onto on the edge of the mountain. You can easily slip over in the mud. Lung capacity and leg power is one thing, but it’s your confidence of footing and strength of mind that is more important that how far and fast you can actually run.

Easter Bunny

Greeted by the Easter Bunny on Bastard’s Hill. Well, it was Good Friday…

Joe the lion

Lion's Head

The view of Lion’s Head

So a race, which I had originally thought would take me 2hr 20, took me 3hrs 40. And I was pleased with that. Some of the slopes were so steep, all I could see in front of me were people stumbling over rocky paths and walking on at a steady pace trying not to pant too much.

Devil's Peak

There was a bit of a backup at Devil’s Peak

So I realise now that the Two Ocean’s trail run is 22km up and down the mountain. It’s no walk in the park.

As ever, my question is what keeps you focused – I’ve asked other runners I know and they all give me different answers. Some train for the clarity of mind it gives them, others to manage their weight, and some want to push themselves to see how far they can go. But  one thing that I think is true, is in Haruki Murakami’s words;

“People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they’ll go to any length to live longer. But don’t think that’s the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life”

For me it’s a combination of all things. I love the clarity of thought  I get after  a good run.  The challenge of working out what my body can (or cannot) do. And  then there is the adrenaline rush too. After a long and particularly challenging run you feel like you can take on the world. Not quite the same with yoga frankly.

So, I’ve achieved one more goal. The next is now to fix my somewhat broken body…

If you want to sponsor me on what was to date one of my most gruelling and physical challenges, (possibly barring learning to fight with sticks in a rat infested hole in India – link)  please feel  free. 

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Two week’s in


Like Hamlet, we might be kings of infinite space, were it not that we… get so easily distracted by stuff.

So it’s now been two weeks since I declared my intention.

In the intervening two weeks a lot has changed. And it’s snowed. A fair bit. So maybe I’m just a fair weather runner, but I can’t say my trainers have seen much action.

But I have been doing a fair bit of Muay Thai training (3-4 times a week). Opting to go for suppleness, flexibility and strength over speed.

What I’ve learned this week;

In intervening years since I first started martial arts training my mind, more than my body has become weak. As ever, it’s the focus and motivation that’s the biggest challenge. There’s a girl I train with these days who used to weigh 23 stone. She’s now fitter than me and a great inspiration. If she can do it, I can stick with it.

I can run for longer on a treadmill than I can outside, but it’s dull. And I struggle with dull. So maybe I am a fair weather trainer after all. Though I’ve also made a new play list and am looking forward to the next sunny day.

According to Chip and Dan Heath, when people run out of will-power, they’re not lazy. They’re exhausted. So I’m learning to listen to my body a bit more (well that was my excuse for a visit to the sauna), and not take on too much in on go. All with the aim of keeping on keeping on.

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A New Challenge; Day 1

Today I signed up today for the 2 Oceans Trail run. That’s one run. 2 oceans. 22km.


I don’t naturally have the physique or stamina for long-distance running. But I’m nothing if not enthusiastic (well, sometimes), and since discovering that despite the non-stop pouring rain, the soaked feet, losing two toenails AND a set of headphones, I LOVED running the Paris 20km… I thought it was time for A NEW CHALLENGE.

With views like the above, it’s no surprise that I was drawn to this particular run. Somehow the Great North Run, just doesn’t have the same appeal.

So, today I managed 6km despite this morning’s rain. I then followed up with  bit of Muay Thai pad work with the boys at the gym this evening.

Day 1 of training seems to have left me with a dodgy knee. Though I’m hoping that may have been caused by sitting on the floor wrapping christmas/chanukah presents in front of the fictional District 9 – complete with obvious references to the real District 6 which lies just below the route I’ll be running on 29 March 2013.

To keep me motivated and focused, I’m going to be using a combination of;


  • app technology; Endomondo to track how far I run (and keep an eye on my speed),
  • one friend here who I’ve managed to persuade to come with me (ok, I signed him up and then asked him after if he wanted to join)
  • one friend over in CT who is training for an ultra marathon
  • mind over matter. If I tell myself I don’t mind, it won’t matter
  • the odd blog post to keep track of how I’m doing
  • protein shakes
  • and of course support from you guys

And I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again – but  it’ll mainly be a combination of Belief, Practice and Community… 

Any other suggestions on how to stay motivated most welcome.

And even better if you want to join me for a run.

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Mobile: The Winds of Change


Winds at Langebaan blowing change

So, while mobile web Africa takes place in Johannesburg, just the other week I was in Cape Town attending AfricaCom – another of the highlights of the tech calendar in Africa.

I’ve already written a brief report for Zeta on what was covered at the conference, but for me, three things really stood out;

• Mobile
• Mobile
• Mobile

Or more specifically;
• How to manage the basic / smart phone divide
• How to connect the unconnected
• What content to provide

You’re not as smart as you think

While in Europe it’s smartphones that dominate the market, in Africa, it’s a whole different ball game. In Uganda there are more mobiles than lightbulbs, while in Nigeria and Zimbabwe, mobile accounts for over half of all web traffic – compared to a ten percent global average. But it’s important to remember that smartphone penetration is dwarfed in comparison to the basic feature phone handset.

Developers absolutely need to think of the feature phone first. The overheads in developing apps for these phone might be high but the take up is ENORMOUS. It’ s the markets who are as yet unconnected by 3g or 4g that have the biggest phone use. So if you’re a developer, it’s not clever to think smart.

Connecting the Unconnected

While current infrastructural limitations mean there is a massive disparity between urban and rural areas, this gap offers a great opportunity for providers who are looking to find a way to connect the unconnected, whether by laying more cables, setting up cheaper (well, it’s all relative) satellites or devising solar powered internet kiosks. The questions for operators and providers is now how to reach the ‘Other 3 billion’. 

But what about the content that needs to be offered to these hard to reach guys?

While Facebook and Twitter dominate the European market it’s the homegrown platforms that are taking on the big boys across the continent. If you took the number of messages sent per day via South African favourite MXit, wrote them on post it notes and laid them end to end, they would stretch 1.5 times around the world. 1.5. And 2go boasts over 20 million users. But one of my personal faves is the newcomer bozza.mobi, which although still in beta allows artists from the townships to self publish, creating their own ‘mobihoods’. It’s local. It can go global.

Change: From Crystal Meths dealer to head of R&D?

But if entertainment currently leads the way, the social and health benefits offered via basic handsets, broadband, or 4G, are hard to ignore.

The Indigo Trust, investors in ICT for development, is pushing platforms which give citizens a voice. In one of South Africa’s largest townships, Khayelitsha, Lungisa, offers locals a chance to send text, audio and video reports outlining social problems. Barely launched, they’ve had over 29 reports responded to by the council. That’s civic responsibility at its best.

Marlon Parker shows off his first mobile phone

Marlon Parker shows off his first mobile phone (almost real size)

The inspiring Marlon Parker of Rlabs is championing for change. He helped use another platform –  Jamiix – to set up a mobile counselling service, delivering drug and unemployment support information to neglected communities. He cites the example of his head of R&D who changed his life around thanks to the information he could get through his phone.

Marlon’s vision is that these technologies can give many hope. Knowledge and hope. And it’s a vision that many share as mobile and social media pushes further up the telcoms food chain.

In a recent survey of goods valued by 18-24 year olds across South Africa, the majority listed bread as the top essential item. Blackberry came second. Diapers were at number 4. And that’s no sh*t.

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Thanks to a friend who is fleet of foot, I’ve been motivated enough to sign up for the Paris 20km run on Sunday 14 October. Daunted? Just a little bit…

Help keep me motivated

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Digital Consultant by Day. Crime fighter by night.

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