At 5AM, the morning of the 29th of November 2014 Steve Black will be pitting his years of experience against the youth and talent of the new generation of ultra endurance distance runners from across the world. Here’s some pics from his recent training session in Lesotho with friend Andrew McKay:
FEAT – Fascinating Expeditions and Travels recently interviewed and had a public ‘chat with Steve Black and Clyde Barendse about their epic race against each other around the Southern Coast of South Africa. To see the two articles leading up to the public show case please click on the following links:
Jeepers! WHat an epic weekend! And such a major big thanks to all those friends who traveled many many many miles (both on foot and by vehicle) to come and join us for Steve’s 60th birthday bash. Thank you friends! Here are a couple of photos from the weekend.
Leaving Cape point I started doubting that i will make Port Elizabeth let alone Port Edward, GI got me though the first days encouraging me to manage my injuries.
Along came Keith Clark from Gourits Mouth running with me to Storms River.
Great runner and well done on winning the Outineque trail run last Saturday.
Then ran by myself for the next 450 km good time out.
3 days to fly to JHB to my Mom´s funeral and then back on the road to East London.
Andrew, fat boy, yeti, cave man, Mackay then joined me 20 km south of East London and ran with me to Port Edward in 8 days.
Well done Andrew, that is insane distance.
All this time Skinny was paddling through massive surf and steadily gaining on me and overtaking and then falling back when the wind was wrong.The madness continues tomorrow with hopefully a 60 km day taking me to Hibberdene and then onto Durban for Friday afternoon.
For Clyde there is a big westerly on its way so I´m sure the race is going to be close at the end.
Remember guys all this is a vehicle for raising much needed funds for Lettie to overcome something far greater that any efforts we are doing. So go for it.
The legend formally known as Black Street Boy has stopped playing chicken with pantechnicons and is now offshore on the beaches near Hamburg on the route of the legendary race the PE to EL. The race also started as a challenge over a beer as to who could run or paddle quicker over the distance – 240 km.
Longitudinally Black is 111km ahead. Ocean kilometers about 118 km. Being a fair weather paddler Clyde opted to wait for wind and do the PE-EL distance over 3 days instead of the usual 4 day challenge. Starting operation catch up tomorrow, Monday, 9 June 2014, a tough day in the office.
My yellow jersey is getting worn out from excessive use but Steve has probably already over taken my pole position from end of day Monday. I landed in tornado surf in Skuit baai navigated to the only natural bay along a 70km cliff face thanks to guidance from Rob from the SANS Park. The bay is South Africa’s best kept fishing secret as the next suburb after SA’s oldest marine reserve – 1962 protected area – Storms River. Steve is getting angry road running….TO READ MORE CLICK HERE
The Coastal Challenge…an epic adventure of two Ultra Endurance titans, Steve black the runner from Underberg, and the paddler Clyde ‘Skinny Cuppucino’ Barnards also from KZN, dueling it out From Cape Town to Durban for a great and personal cause; Lettie Haynes’ fight against cancer. The race, which started on the 17th of May crossed it’s hypothetical third way on the 26th of May, and not without it’s fair share of drama and challenges.
The Skinny Cuppacino got off to the worst start having to wait for increment weather to pass the Cape before wetting his hull. This gave long distance running specialist Steve Black the oppertunity of opening up a lead of more than a 100 kms within the first two days. This bodes extremely badly for Skinny as he needed to gain a fantastic lead before hitting the shores of Port Elizabeth.
It wasn’t all plain running for the runner Steve and his ‘first’ 500 km running buddy Andrew King. Their plan of day-to-day race route speculation was met with plenty boundary fences and specifically the treacherous nature of the cliffs. Consequently the pair have had to make detours inland, extending the already Ultra Distance a little further. Also in accordance to the laws of popular averages Steve picked up a niggling injury and consequently fell off the pace. The lead of a hundred or so clicks (as one refers to a few kilometers when racing an unintelligible distance) proved to be a minor factor as Skinny recorded more than 100 kms of his own on one day. The a further psychological and very emotional blow struck Steve as his Mother passed away on the first Friday. He carried on running up until the time of the funeral, at which stage he left the race to fly to Johannesburg to return a day later and continue the race. In the interim Skinny had made some, but not great ground against the runner, deflating the lead to a mere 50 kms.
At the time of writing this Steve had returned to Sedgefield, ran to Knysna, spent two days there and then resumed his journey approximately 100 kms ahead of Clyde en route to Plettenberg Bay. Beneath is a collection of photos from the first 10 days of the race.
AN EPIC EXPLORATION OF SOUTH AFRICA’S SOUTHERN COASTLINE AND THE HUMAN SPIRIT
On the 17th of May 2014 two athletes, one a runner and one a surf-ski paddler engaged in an extraordinary race. Starting from Cape Point they will try beat the other getting to Addington beach, Durban first. Steve Black the veteran Ultra-Endurance runner from Khotso Horse Trails, Underberg is trail running the approximately 1900kms in a hopeful 25 days. That’s 76kms per day, in and out. Clyde Barendse, the paddler from Durban that runs a national mobile bar and manufacture business called Barcode, has to cover less distance but is more exposed to weather and ocean conditions. Both men are members of the Mamu Loman Federation, an under-ground adventure group whose fundamentals are health and mobility.
Most multi day paddling marathons run for 40kms per day. Without digesting the magnitude of the task ahead I already have Steve pegged for winning. Steve laughs, and says the timing of the race suits Clyde perfectly as the oncoming winter will push the Agulhas current and assist him. But only until they hit Port Elizabeth and the tables will turn. He concedes that he might very well be a few days shy of Clyde, and then smiles confidently: Enter the toughest registered Surf-ski event in the world; The Southern Shamaal, a four day race from Port Elizabeth to East London. Clyde has completed the 244km up wind race before, which in itself is a massive achievement, but Steve looks at this part of the race as the ‘telling’ moment.
Why?! Clyde and Steve are hoping to generate awareness and charity for Nikki ‘Lettie’ Haynes battle against cancer. Lettie Haynes herself being a beacon of light and inspiration to many thousands of people struggling with illness. Steve says that next to her battle, his and Clyde’s task seems rather insignificant. Steve however beams a big smile and says: “It’s going to be fun – that’s why.” I believe Steve can do it. Fuelling the belief is also the fact that Steve has run more than a thousand kilometres on the trot before, so what’s another 800 or so clicks added between friends?
Can Clyde do it? According to Steve, Clyde knows exactly what he’s in for, and that he has what it takes ‘mentally’. Here’s a man that was chosen to be part of team tackling the great Kiliminjaro barefoot, not for his athletic prowess but his mental strength and ability to motivate people around him. Clyde himself confesses that; ‘sometimes just being stupid is a blessing and you can rely blindly that everything will be ok but I will be looking to paddle everyday where possible with a local group of paddlers with knowledge of the area and to act in support of the cause. Safety first on this one’.
Staring at almost 2000 kms in the face I would’ve thought a main concern would be fitness. I’m wrong: Steve quickly rattles off the names to some major rivers he has to cross. “You must understand, there is nothing and nobody for stretches and stretches on the Southern Coast of Africa. There are a few rivers where someone might help me cross, the rest of the time I’ll have to swim keeping Bull sharks and crocs in the back of my mind. Clyde will have similar toothy fears.” He also concedes that injury is also a major worry. Stumbling and falling for example could end up with him lying somewhere unable to move. This worry is compounded by the fact that he intends to run 20% of the time in the dark, either early morning or at night. For Clyde, Mother Nature on the open seas will present the biggest threat. Big oceans, swells, sharks and vicious head-winds are cause for great concern.
Neither Clyde nor Steve will be alone all the time though. At the start of the race Clyde will have a proverbial pod of friends paddling with him across False Bay which is well know for the great White shark, as will Steve on the road. Capetonian Andrew King will join Steve for the first of his 500kms, and will then peel away to join another endurance race in the Karoo, after which he will yet again join Steve possibly in east London. Steve will also be seconded by his wife Lulu, but due to the remote nature of some the stretches of coast, she might only meet up with him again every second day.
The Coastal Challenge will undoubtedly be a race of legendary proportions. The athletic ability of the two men is completely side-lined by the mental strength that must be exhibited throughout the race. It is this mental strength that exemplifies the spirit that lies in each and every one of us. Whether we have to run 100kms a day, paddle upwind for a thousand miles, or beat Cancer one battle at a time, we have the ability and choice to ‘never give up’.
Every year hordes of the paddling fraternity descend on Underberg for the annual N3Gateway Drak Challenge, a premier K1 National Canoe race that sees the uMzimkulu river on our doorstep awash with paddles and canoes. Unlike the previous year that saw a flash flood from the previous evening render the race down to a few hundred participants (due to the dangerous nature of the river), this year was the exact opposite. A recent dry spell saw the river levels sink so badly that organisers of the race were forced to make the race shorter, and consequently start the race on our doorstep! Here are some photos of the start to day number one of the race.