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February 13, 2009

Fire Running

Yesterday afternoon I went for a normal trail run, which is normal for a Thursday for me. Trail running cleans my head out, especially now that I am allowed to run a bit harder not being focused on an Ironman in 7 weeks time. The experience is exhilarating. Hydra pack, iPod and Whasp Gels fuel the fury, and by then end of it I am spent, tired, hot, and have a big smile.

That running, salivating staffie vibe.

Difference yesterday was that the area was hit by trauma in the week before. Let’s have a look at what was going on in a nice video…

So, yesterday, off I headed into the bush to check out what was left of it. I did a similar thing after Table Mountain burnt to the ground (figuratively) and I remembered the total quiet, so yesterday I left the iPod in the car purposefully. It was 38 degrees Celsius, so an extra Whasp and some extra juice were taken as well. Both came in handy, might I add.

The route I run goes straight up for 20 minutes and the whole way I was amazed at the quiet, that at times, a whole eco system had been destroyed overnight. It was stark, sad and I was forced to remember that things do change quickly, in nature, and the same can happen in life. The beauty about plants is that they want to live. They have an inherent need to fight for survival. Humans don’t always have this. Next to smoldering ashes new plants had already started coming out of the ground, little green buds fighting for oxygen as smoke still hung in the air.

Here are some images from the top of the hill.

destruction was everywhere

destruction was everywhere

the view up the mountain

the view up the mountain

As I headed along the path I got into a really great rhythm and felt amazingly alive, hopping over tree stumps, ducking under fallen branches and my eyes opened just a little extra, the heat was in my nostrils and the hair on my arms lifted just a millimeter. Total runners high. I came out the other end to witness that the other side of the mountain was still fine. Gorgeous vineyards in tact, the sea looked blue and warm, and as I stood there the wind came up quite quickly, so I headed back through the forest.

To my horror, the flames behind me had lit up again as the wind picked up, and about 5 minutes of running back I was in the thick smoke, covering my mouth with my shirt watching the fire. The paint on the front of my shoes had bubbled from the heat & I was shocked and a little scared that my route back was more uphill than I thought. What’s an adventurous guy to do in this situation?

Stop and take pictures.

Fire!

Fire!

I ran out the other side of the dense bush and down the hill. Stopped to take a picture of the sun as it was being blocked out by then sun. It was dark and gloomy and the helicopters were starting to be heard overhead.

gloomy sun. very real at that moment.

gloomy sun. very real at that moment.

As I got across the small valley I stopped to get a picture of the helicopter, but only got a small image. It’s in the red circle.

helicopters

helicopters

Back up the other side of the valley I charged, feeling alive, as if I had escaped some sort of trap, and my heart rate must have been sky high as I sucked on the tube giving me water to find it warm and the gel I took was hot to the touch, and almost burnt my throat on the way down. As I crested the hill I came across what must have been a complete little house a week ago. Seems nature had other plans for it.

burnt down cottage

burnt down cottage

But next to it there were some more sprouts of life already popping out, so there is life after the fire after all, and I bet in a few months, there will be a full green mountain again. This was witnessed in Cape Town, and now, you can hardly see there was a devastating fire, not too long ago.

life from the ashes

life from the ashes

The run had me powered all the way home and I slept like a baby, some sort of physical happiness along with an emotional satisfaction that I haven’t had in a long time. I don’t think it was a morality thing because of the fire, just how hard and how filled I was with the whole run. I didn’t think of the world I had left behind once and it cleared a lot of the mental junk that clutters my mind a lot. Silly ego.

I don’t recommend you run in flames. But I do recommend you clean your mind once a week. How you do that is up to you. Go running as a start…around the block maybe. Then two blocks.

It has to start somewhere…

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