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      News — Travel

      Visiting Thailand and the limestone cliffs in Tonsai

      Visiting Thailand and the limestone cliffs in Tonsai

      Written by Daryl-Leigh Preuss

      Have you travelled to Thailand yet? If not here is my experience and recommendation for you to travel there. 

      After two days of travelling, we finally arrived in Thailand. From the busy beach of Aunang, we took a long-tail boat to the secluded beach of Tonsai Bay. As you arrive and walk up the stairs, you are greeted by the friendly staff of the Freedom Bar; a small bar just off the beach with wooden decks, music and 200m high limestone cliffs towering above you.

       

      After a mandatory drink at the bar, we settled into our accommodation at the Dream Valley Resort. (This is the only resort in Tonsai with a swimming pool. A must, considering the extreme heat and humidity!)

      Small bars, restaurants and shops are all connected by one long street. Every local greeting you with a smile as you walk past. The thick forest made the every day hikes an adventure. The adventure was spiced up even more with the snakes on the trails or bathrooms; monkeys stealing your nuts and a giant squirrel (I’m convinced I saw it!).

      Climbing in Thailand is definitely different from what we have here in South Africa. Big moves between good holds made it out to be quite a sweaty and challenging experience. The slippery, overhanging limestone, with giant toofers on it, made it obvious that I need to do some pull-ups. Although the climb was challenging, there was always a 5 star view waiting for me at the top, making it all worth it.

      On our rest-days, we used the time to try out the other activities Tonsai had to offer. These included kayaking through the eroded cliffs; snorkeling; as well as stand up paddle boarding.

       

      My favourite part about my Thailand trip was meeting other climbers from around the world.

      Sharing drinks and talking war-stories from the day’s adventures. Everyone knew and got to love the “South African group”. We made more friends than I could ever imagine. The local and travelling community really made the trip all the more special.

      I’m already missing our Tonsai family. I can’t wait to go back, fitter, stronger and ready to tackle those beautiful limestone cliffs.

      Urban Downhill Mountain Bike

      Urban Downhill Mountain Bike

      Get first person view as a downhill mountain biker takes to the streets of Manizales for a high speed decent through some sketchy street-side obstacles. Hold on to your keyboard and experience what it looks like to race like a champion

       

      Amashova 65km Cycle Race

      Amashova 65km Cycle Race

      Last year I took part in my second Tsogo Sun AmaShova Durban Classic, cycling a full 65km with my GoPro Hero 3+ Silver strapped to my bike. 
       
      This race is one of the oldest classic cycle races in South Africa and offers a classic 106km race, 65km half challenge and a 35km fun ride with full road closures. The 106km from Pietermaritzburg to Durban follows a similar route to that of the Comrades Marathon. It’s a fantastic race for both beginners and advanced cyclists who are looking for a good challenge.
       
      I started the 65km half challenge at 5.30am in Cato Ridge. It was a chilly morning but it didn’t take long for the cyclists to be warmed up and full of excitement for the race ahead. 
      My excitement turned into horror as I was faced with the notorious slow climb up Inchanga! By now the sun was sitting high and the day was getting warmer. Not long after the first major uphill, came another punishing climb out of the Drummond bowl. 
      At this point, I began questioning whether I had prepared myself enough for the race!
      The slow, winding uphills of the first 15km or so seem like they are never-ending. After pushing through, it was a breeze cycling down Botha’s Hill and Fields Hill, with even more easy free-wheeling stretches into Durban. All the negative thoughts from the beginning of the race had disappeared and I got that same rush that keeps me coming back each year.
       
      Like most endurance sporting events, I find, you'll say to yourself during the race that you're never going to do it ever again; this is the last time you’re going to put yourself through that experience. By the end of the race, however, you’re overjoyed that you fought through the temporary pain and begin the countdown to next year's event!
       
      There is a unique freedom and thrill that comes from gliding downhill on a bike surrounded by beautiful green scenery with clear sunny skies above. I tried my best to capture it with my GoPro Hero 3+ Silver which you can check out in the video I made below.
      I used the handlebar mount to attach my GoPro to the handlebar of my bike. It was really steady and surprisingly, didn’t shake or vibrate at all while cycling. Using this mount allowed me to focus on my cycling while easily capturing a few videos and photos of the race. I edited all the footage into a short video showing the highlights of my race using GoPro Studio

       

      This year’s Amashova takes place on 16 October and entries are now open. I hope you’re gearing up for the big day and challenging yourself this year, whether it’s to the 35km, 65km or 106km! You can find out more information and enter online here. http://www.shova.co.za/

       

      To see more of my GoPro photos, check out my Instagram account
      You can also check out my other YouTube videos

      My First Stage Race Trail Run – The Cell C African X Trail Run

      My First Stage Race Trail Run – The Cell C African X Trail Run

      This past weekend Warrick and I made our way down to the Cape to take part in our first ever stage race trail run called the Cell C African X Trail Run. African X is a three-day trail run that requires you to race with a partner so you can either enter as an all-girls team, all-mens team or a mixed team (Warrick and I entered the mixed team category).

      The race is based at Houw Hoek Inn a beautiful little spot in the Kogelberg Reserve in Grabouw and it is believed to be the oldest hotel in South Africa. The race is broken up into three stages all of varying difficulty.

       

      Stage 1: Cool, fast and fun

      The first stage is a 36km run with 900m of climbing that starts and finishes at Houw Hoek Inn. It was an overcast day with a bit of light rain which I must say was ideal for running. The course on this stage was relatively non-technical and included a lot of well-worn single track paths. I particularly enjoyed the middle section of the run where we ran through a beautiful forest area with lots of bridge crossings. We both had a good solid run for this stage; however, after completing this run I started to feel a bit of pain in my right knee at the ITB attachment point. I immediately went over to the EPT Soft Tissue Unit to book a massage. After the massage I also took a dip into the ice baths which Warrick thought was very entertaining as I could barely last 5 minutes in the freezing cold water. I was slightly paranoid though with the pain in my right knee especially as we still had two days to go to cover a further 56km. Throughout the rest of the day I focused on icing my knee and not spending too much time on my feet in preparation for a tough stage two.

       

      Stage 2: Hot, rocky and lots of climbing

      The second stage is a tough, technical 34km route with 1100m of ascent which starts at a place called Ongegund and ends at Paul Cluver Amphitheatre.

      After dealing with a gale force wind overnight with our tent almost collapsing on us and making it difficult to sleep we knew we were in for a long day. We were not alone though by the evidence of many collapsed tents around the campsite when we exited our tent in the morning as well as the many tired faces around the breakfast tables.

      As I was feeling a bit concerned about my knee which was still a bit tender, I decided to go through to the EPT team to strap my ITB band to give it some extra support which turned out to work like magic.

      As part of the fun atmosphere at African X, stage two is also the “dress up” day run where the best dressed team would win themselves some great prizes from one of the lead sponsors Asics. Warrick and I admittedly didn’t plan very well in terms of coming up with a unique outfit so we just wore some tattoo arm sleeves and some funky hair colour pieces but when we do this race again I think we will get a bit more creative. The best dressed team went to two ladies dressed like maids. To see photo’s of the best dressed go check out the Stillwater Trail Running Facebook Page.

      To add to the festivities of stage two, the legendary South African Ultra Trail Runner, Ryan Sandes also took part in stage two as part of his book launch. About 4km into the run he came flying past Warrick and I as we were running along the train tracks leading to Gantouw Pass, where the early Cape Settlers travelled to get their ox-wagons over the mountain. Although a very tough, rocky climb the views were amazing from the top. After this climb the route eased up a bit taking us through some flowing single track in the Cape Pine Forest all the way to the Grabouw Country Club. From the Country Club the route takes you up to the hiking trail along Groenland Berg which I found really challenging with some very steep climbs and rocky terrain. It was also very hot at this point in the race which added to the difficulty of this stage but there is definitely nothing better than the feeling of finishing a really tough day out on the trails.

       

      As I mentioned earlier, Ryan Sandes took part in stage two of the African X race as part of his book launch but what I forgot to mention was that Warrick won himself a signed copy of his book called Trail Blazer. I am really looking forward to reading this book soon and so keep an eye out for a book review coming soon.

       

      Stage 3: Oddly feeling stronger than ever

      The final stage of the Cell C African X is a some-what shorter 22km with 800m of climbing starting at the award-winning Wildekrans Wine Estate situated in the Bot River Valley and ending back at Houw Hoek Inn.

      After having already run 70km over the past two days, Warrick and I were not sure how our legs were going to feel taking on this final stage. The first half of the run was a loop around Wildekrans Estate along flowing single track and jeep tracks which was a nice easy start to get the legs warmed up. We then exited Wildekrans and made our way right up into the mountains along a technical rocky trail. The views were spectacular but the running was hard going especially coming from Joburg where we do not get enough practice running these rocky-type trails. However, Warrick and I felt pretty strong the whole way and ended the race with a sprint to the finish against another mixed team which although we came off second best was a bit of fun to end off three awesome days of trail running.

      To add an interesting dimension to the final stage, the top three teams of each category ladies, men, veterens and the mixed teams after the first two stages all started the race and hour and half after the rest of us runners. This meant that most AfricanX’ers were able to see the top trail runners finish the race including AJ Calitz & Ben Brimble (Overall Men’s Team Winners) & Landie Greyling & Meg Mackenzie (Overall Ladies Team Winners).

      All-in-all we covered a total distance of 92km over the three days which is a personal record for me and it has definitely given me an extra confidence boost in terms of my Comrades training preparation. Warrick and I were also pleasantly surprised to finish the three days with a Top 10 finish in the mixed team category.

      Finally, I would definitely recommend African X as a “must-do race” for any keen trail runners out there.

      Content originally written by Camilla Kernes for her blog Cambo Adventures

      Zim Farmer Pries Huge Python From Bakkie

      Zim Farmer Pries Huge Python From Bakkie

      Imagine opening up your car bonnet and finding a huge python curled up inside. There is footage of a Zimbabwean doing just that. He cautiously grabs the snake by its head and removes it from the warmth of the car engine. This isn't the first time we have heard stories of people finding huge snakes cuddling with the cars engine. Better watch out!