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Collective Noun for Rhodes Runners

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The collective noun for a group of Rhodes runners is ...


The collective noun is an Aurora of Rhodes runners.

Dave Funnell (Snowflake # 1099), who coined the phrase during our competition last year, outlined his rationale for using 'aurora' as the collective noun for Rhodes runners thus

It's actually the collective noun for a group of Polar Bears - very relevant.
I also like the ring of it due to its other meaning as a romantic name for the Roman Goddess of Sunrise, who's tears turn into the morning dew. The sunrise over the mountains at Rhodes has been gorgeous both years I've run.
Along with being associated with the electrical phenomenon of green & red steamers, the Aurora Borealis at the North Pole & Aurora Australis at the South Pole.
Somehow seems to sum up Rhodes for me.

Wide-eyed & white knuckled

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They arrive at 'Walkerbouts Inn', wide-eyed, crying out for a Beroemde Hoender.

Knuckles still white from clutching the steering wheel ... or for the less fortunate, the passenger grab handle.

Technology - 1, Best route - 0

The drive over Lundean's Nek, also known a Lundin's Nek, for many who are less frequent district or gravel road travellers can be unnerving and never-ending. Travelled after sunset an experience not many will forget and will share with unnecessary embellishment for years afterwards.

Listed on the Dangerous Roads website "This trail passes through remote areas, so you need to be prepared. This route is not suitable for normal cars. If you dare to take the risk and travel along this dusty and bumpy route, then make sure to be driven by someone who has experience of the road."

The 'SatNav' route from Bloemfontein to Rhodes tends to by-pass Aliwal North and Barkly East, which is all well and good with a vehicle worthy of the challenge and a driver comfortable with a road less travelled.

Pull out that 'old school' paper map, or head to your nearest AA store. The old 'strip maps' even an old school Atlas will generally provide the most efficient drive to Rhodes.

SatNav has also deflected travellers into the Bokspruit and Riflespruit, not the best way to Rhodes.

Siting in the pub at Walkerbouts and someone arrives wide-eyed gasping for a strong drink, you'll know they have experienced a SatNav arrival!


 Described thus on South African Passes 

"... must rank as the most underrated big gravel pass in South Africa. Not that many people have driven this pass ...

The pass is steep and peppered with 101 bends, corners and curves including four hairpins, several unbridged stream crossings and very steep, unguarded drop-offs. It's also long at 14,5 km and concentration levels need to be maintained throughout. The pass is not suitable for normal sedan vehicles. Whilst we recommend a 4x4 for this road, it is possible to complete it in a high clearance 4x2 vehicle in fair weather."


Substitution Season

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Closing date for substitutions is noon 13 June

So it's the Final Countdown  sing-a-long, you know the song by Swedish group Europe ... all together ... 


For some Karaoke style support, have your sound 'On' and volume 'Max'


"Everyone Deserves to Stand Tall"

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One of our international donors, Ingrid Norman, coined the phrase "everyone deserves to stand tall in a new pair of school shoes" and it has become a catch phrase for our iziCathulo Project.

Freedom Day weekend seemed an appropriate time to visit the Rhodes Public School for what we hope will be Part I of our 2018 project.

It was a privilege to be the face of the iziCathulo Project. It will be well-nigh impossible to convey the emotion when we arrived at the school with a full trailer. We were met by traditional dancing, praise singing and energetic and very moving dancing by the mothers as expressions of gratitude.

Each pupil was gifted a new pair of school shoes, a pair of mohair socks, a packet of biscuits, a fruit juice and items of tinned food.

Appreciation to all those who sponsored school shoes and socks, to Eastern Cape Motors & Ford Southern Africa for the use of the Ford Ranger 4x4, to Rhodes Food Group for the tinned food and the Rhodes fruit juice, to Aramex who ensured that the mohair socks reached us in time, to St Dominic's Priory School, Port Elizabeth for the significant amount of school uniforms & sports kit and to RV Footwear who made the shoes.

Speeches in appreciation were made by Ms Tomokazi Ndzakana (School Principal), Ms Zakhe Ndzakana (the Principal's sister), Ms Elia Nthabeleng (on behalf of the School Governing Body), Mrs Thembisa Fitshane (on behalf of the parents) and Ms Inga Fitshane (on behalf of the pupils).

 Speech by Ms Zakhe Ndzakana on behalf of the Principal:

"To Evie & Darrell, educators, SGB representatives and the Rhodes community at large.

I am standing here on behalf of my sister who is the School Principal. I am grateful to be given this opportunity to attend this important occasion.

A message of gratitude to Darrell & Evie who have once again come to school to contribute to the learners, to extend their hand to the needy. Once again you set the tone for the year by helping our children, parents & educators, to make a difference, against the cold winters of this place with shoes, uniforms and all the stuff you provide to us.

We appreciate your unfailing love and dedication.

We are fortunate to have you donate all that you have to a school such as ours.

On behalf of the Rhodes Pubic School we express our gratitude. Thanks for all you have done. We all love you from the bottom of our hearts.

May the Almighty bless you continually.

Thank you."

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In its natural habitat

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Totally at home in its natural habitat, the high Southern Drakensberg mountains of the north east Cape.

Eastern Cape Motors had to prise the Ford Ranger keys out of our fingers after our Route Recce #1 for 2018.

If you come across Ranger keys looking a tad blood stained, we did not give them back easily!

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  Lesotho View (2680m)
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 'Border Road'  Ben MacDhui (3001m) in the background
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Our Class of 2018 will trot along both these landmarks  

Thank you Eastern Cape Motors and Ford Southern Africa for the use of the Ford Ranger 4x4.


Found him!

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On our recce of Hooggenoeg Ridge over the weekend we found the 2017 runner who left the Quarry Check Point and missed the Check Point at Hooggenoeg Peak.

Glad we found him, but we were not the first!

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You earn your medal here ...

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Something most runners may not appreciate is that when they reach the Mavis Top Check Point they have also reached the highest contour road in South Africa.

Averaging 2600 MASL the 'Border Road' hugs the Lesotho border, touching the border fence at Lesotho View. Calling it a road would probably make Andrew and Thomas Bain flinch as it is merely a rough double track requiring good 4x4 driving skills at times.

The 'Border Road' is a lonely part of the route, often viewed as merely a link between two notorious sections, Mavis Bank and Hooggenoeg Ridge 'The tufts of terror'. Head down, grit your teeth and keep moving upwards is the best and only advice. Not much chit-chat will be heard, other than a not so infrequent muttered curse. 

While ostensibly following the contour around the mountains this section is anything but flat! Nor smooth. There are a few bumps before you reach the road from the top of the Carlislehoek Pass. Most of the bumps force even the front runners to a walk. In poor conditions, which are 'good' conditions for the Rhodes Run, the road will snap at tired ankles while the wind gusting off the Ben MacDhui snowfields will strike you full in the face. You earn your finisher medal here if conditions are poor.

In pleasant balmy conditions, of which there have been ... we think!, the trot along the top and past Lesotho View can be most pleasant. The view south, to your left, is truly magnificent and worth recording.

Heath warning: If you are struck by the vista it would be best to stop to soak up the view. A stumble and fall could lead to either a tumble over the edge or a visit to the medical team, or both.

Stopping to soak up the view and record the scene also gives lungs an opportunity to suck in more of the thin air which your legs are crying out for.

The images below of the 'Border Road' show its many moods




Images: Craig Muller | Backyard Adventures and Rhodes Run archives. 

Some images are of the Flag Team and crew


At the third time of calling ...

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The ODF Wild Card invitation has had a third roll down.

With both Robyn and Michelle unable to join us in July a third draw was done.

Congratulations Francois Liebenberg on doing a good thing and registering as an organ donor, a decision which has enabled you to win the complimentary Wild Card to the 2018 Rhodes Run courtesy of the Organ Donor Foundation.

Well done Francois and we will see you at registration on 6 July.

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