For most people snap, crackle and pop are Elven cereal box dwellers but for me, they are the soundtrack that accompanies me as I ascend a staircase. My knees complain with a cacophony of noises that are a disturbing thing to hear coming from flesh and bone. But alas… It was not always this way. There was a time when I was a nimble footed ninja, not a pop, crackle or snap to be heard. Then I moved down to Natal…
In Natal. if you put on a pair of running shoes it wont be long before someone greets you, gives you a knowing nod… And asks how your Comrades training is going. Every time this happened, for about a year after arriving in Natal, I would quickly point out that my running regime was embarked upon only in an effort to fight off the onset of curry bunny tummy. And anyway, only crazy people would want to run for 89km
Soon, however, I gave in to peer pressure. I joined Striders running club and started the long haul towards being able to run all the way to Pietermaritzburg. And it was hard. And incredible. And life changing. And my knees took a hammering. And that was just the training… Every time we ran, we would be able to look out along an ever changing coastline. The sun would rise over the sea like a red ball, sometimes framed by palm trees, other times it was nestled in the glowing dawn cloud formations.
Purple Crested Touraco’s would sometimes soar overhead in the forests near Sheffield if we ran North. If we ran South to Ballito, the winding wooden promenade would give us a chance to spot dolphins or glimpse a pair of surfers carving their names into the start of the day.
I loved running the Comrades. But I loved training for it even more. And I get it.. Training runs here on the North Coast are special… And sometimes peer pressure results in good things.
But that was all years ago. This year, Pippa McGregor will be running her second comrades. Pippa is a machine who paddles a surfski or canoe, runs trail and road, yogas, pilates and ambassadors for Crampnot, a product that helps saves athletes from cramping in endurance events.
She is also one of the nicest people on the North Coast. Her knees are stronger, younger and have been looked after better than mine. Hers are the Future Life of the cereal knee universe.
She has run every road in Ballito, Salt Rock and Sheffield and knows all of them by name. She trains hard, runs strong and looks good doing it! I had the incredible foresight, gained from years of operating as a professional photographer, to realise that there was a good chance that a beautiful athlete in a beautiful location would probably make for some good photos. We teamed up for a shoot to show off just how cool it is to train for Comrades in our own spectacular coastal town…