When is the last time you had an adventure?
When is the last time you had an adventure? When did you just decide to do something that looked like fun and wasn’t in the plan?
We live such rushed lives. I often find myself caught up in the routine of running a business, co-ordinating home life, serving on committees and so many other commitments. Simply rushing at break neck speed from one activity to another. When I heard about the inaugural Paws Trail Run in the Western Cape, Belinda (one of the other Pawfect Directors) and I decided to book. It wasn’t on the calendar or in “the 5 year plan” but it just sounded like fun and quite frankly combines two of my favourite things – dogs and running. I had not really thought through that we would need to travel over 1900kms over two days to get there and then the same back. It just seemed like a great idea… and it was.
As we approached the 22nd of February, the reality of the distances we had to travel suddenly dawned on me. I got slightly stressed as I would be out of the office and there would be no cell phone reception. (My delusions of grandeur played havoc – how would anyone survive without being able to speak to me for 4 days!) Putting my misgivings aside, we packed up all we needed (the kitchen sink almost came with us) and set off on this adventure. Two friends, traveling 4000kms with 3 dogs (Kassidy, Nelson and Gracie) was bound to be a laugh.
Road tripping with dogs means multiple wee and poop stops. This generally means that the humans also land up weeing along route, in bushes and deserted farm roads. The R94 is now scattered with many “wee mails” for the next adventurers who happen stop along the same route. We traveled through the little towns that time seems to have forgotten, through Graaff-Reinet and up over the Outeniqua Pass. We finally arrived at the Gourikwa Nature reserve late on the Friday night, just in time to quickly marvel at the beautiful scenery and then dash into to race briefing. The dog participants greeted one another with a good bum sniff, while the humans grabbed a drink and introduced themselves. Instantly the drive was worth it and I just knew that this was going to be a great weekend.
For most trail runners 10km distances per day would be laughed at and you certainly wouldn’t travel 4000km with 3 dogs. But don’t get distracted by the distance or you will miss the whole point. This was a very rare opportunity to do a trail run with our four legged running partners in one of the most beautiful, unspoiled places in South Africa. A friend always says, “Make sure your dog thinks the best time of their life is right by your side”. This could not have been truer, seeing Nelson and Kassidy smile as they charged into the bushes hunting down their next smell, while petite Gracie (who was homeless 6 months ago) trotted right next to me having the time of her life.
Photo credit: Trisport – Hano Otto
Day one dawned with overcast skies and a slight chill in the air. All human and dog participants lined up raring to go. Let me interject and give you some context. Most inaugural events start off small and this one was no different. We have to thank Trisport for taking the plunge and choosing to go ahead, regardless of the small number of entries. I have no doubt that this event will grow from strength to strength but this time we were an intimate group. This actually made it even more special as we got to know all the participants. Attending from the Pawfect Pack were Kassidy, Nelson and Gracie. Then there was Steve from Hilton with Shinga, the big handsome male Ridgeback, who took a fancy to Areo the chocolate lab. Areo’s humans were Louise, Dave and Granny Estelle. All the dogs soon learnt that Granny Estelle was the “Weakest Link” and if you showed her puppy dog eyes, you were guaranteed treats, pieces of toast from the lunch table and no doubt many other nibbles when no one was looking. Areo’s sister Zoe (Zozo), a little Jack Russell, and my Gracie hatched one of those pawsome friendships made in heaven. Bringing up the smaller four-legged contingent was Megan and her Daxie Cross called Ben. Ben is a rescue and, although he was slightly intimidated by all these big dogs, he kept his cool. He is simply the cutest thing you have ever seen. His little legs could be seen scampering along side his mom. Lastly there were the Sonja and Hano’s Trisport mascots, the muscled Jack Russels, Buddy and Milo. They say dynamite comes in small packages; well this is so true for these two as they barked out their instructions, keeping everyone in check while loyally sticking to mom Sonja’s legs.
Over the two days we traversed the Gourikwa Nature Reserve taking in the breath taking scenery. The Trisport support team marked the trails clearly and provided an outstanding water poin,t catering for both humans and dogs. Fresh water and cheese blocks awaited our four legged friends while human refreshments were plentiful, including some very yummy koeksisters.
Sadly, the weekend passed so quickly and before we knew it we were bundling back into the car to make the long journey home. What makes a journey like this worth the effort? It forces you to disconnect and pause, even for the briefest of moments. Life is put back into perspective. You stop, take a deep breath, admire the scenery and simply enjoy the time with new human and K9 friends.
Hopefully our adventure inspires you to do something different, with or without your dog (we hope with).
Our rushed lifestyles rob us of time and give us a false sense that there will always be a tomorrow to do “that” thing that you have always wanted to. Don’t be fooled. Stop. Pause. And then go on to book the next adventure because we don’t get time back.
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