Picture of copyright of www.dakar.com

Picture of copyright of http://www.dakar.com

For as long as I can remember I have always been a fan of the Dakar Rally. Back in the day it use to be “The Paris – Dakar Rally” that set off from Paris, France, during the first week of January. The race route has changed a lot since its inception back in 1979 so its name has just become “The Dakar” but its sole still remains that of the original. The most demanding rally in the world! A true test of  man and machine! This year’s race that kicked off on the 5th of Jan (2013) and lasts for 15 days will take these truly amazing men and machines from Peru through Argentina and completing this epic race in Chile. The machine of choice for these men and women range from purpose built sand eating all wheel drive (4×4) cars / buggies/ pickup’s to almost normal 4 wheel drive cars / pickups with a roll cage fitted to them. Then you have the motor bike and quad bike classes all followed up with the monsters of the desserts the support trucks. Yes as mad as it sounds the support trucks also race! These are no normal MAN / DAF/ Tata trucks I might add. Highly modified 8 wheel drive monsters that have full support kit to keep the bikes and cars going smoothly over all manor of terrain. The machines are truly amazing but its the men and women that pilot these beasts over this grueling race for 15 days that are the inspiration here! I have had the privilege of meeting some of these inspirational people in past years when I use to live in South Africa. Moto-X ace Alfie Cox and South African Off road champ Neil Woolridge  when I use to deliver spare parts and even help out at Moto-X events. Having met some of these inspirational people in the past and been a great follower of the race for as long as I can remember I am really inspired by one truly amazing team this year. Having a great respect for both the race and the people that take part in it I know that this is not a race for the faint hearted. The race has eaten man and machines in the past and its no stranger to death. But this does not stop close on 475 vehicle’s ( Bikes/ Cars/ Quads/ Tucks ) from competing this years event. Nor does the fact that one amazing team is being manned by injured former military service men and women!

Image Copyright of - http://www.race2recovery.com/

Image Copyright of – http://www.race2recovery.com/

The Race2Recover team who are supporting 4 Bowler Wildcat 4×4’s , 3 service trucks and 3 Landrover support vehicles in this years event. A large team yes with loads of support but what makes them truly amazing is the fact that some of the team are missing more than one limb! Be it an arm or a leg or both and in some cases both legs and an arm. These guys are amazing. They have the right attitude, an IED didn’t stop them so what chance does the worlds most gruelling rally have against these lot! Not a lot I would guess ! So why are these lads and girls who put their life’s on the line over in Afghanistan doing this race? Well I think their moto in their logo above sums it all up rather nicely. They are also doing it to raise funds and awareness for other injured service men and women out there. These guys are just amazing. Last year on TopGear we got to see the guys preparing for this epic adventure with the help of former Stig, Ben Colins. It was great to see the guys in action and to hear bits about their own stories of bravery and personal battles.

The personal battles are far from over as the teams and support crew as they face every thing that the Dakar and South America can throw at them.

As I type this post Race2Recovery had to retire 2 of the Wildcat’s, one due to missing a check point and the other due to mechanical problems. Two race vehicles out this is not the only issues the team have has had to face. On day 5 of the 15 day event one of the support vehicles carrying 3 support members was involved in a head on collision with a taxi Peru. The team members were taken to the local hospital but sadly two people in the taxi died as a result of the accident.  ( full story can be found here – The Gardian )

Race2Recover started the Dakar with the goal of being the first disabled team to complete the event. And this goal has not changed as a result of the past few days of the rally. The team will continue with the remaining two Wildcat’s and the rest of the support team in their 8 wheel drive monsters in order to achieve their goal.

You can keep in touch and send your support to the team via social media via the following links:

Facebook – Race2Recovery 

Twitter – @Race2Recovery

Be sure to visit there page – donate if you can and show your support to the most inspirational team in the most demanding of motorsport events, The Dakar Rally

So it just go to show if you put your mind to anything the body will follow.

Truly inspirational team.

UPDATE —>  Great story published in The Sun Newspaper today – Click here to read it and view some great photos of the team in action.

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WOW its been way over 6 months since my last post!

Sorry about that but its been a bit of a mad 6 months!

All mannor of ups and downs over the past 6 months thats for sure. Not really going to share them as such, as the downs, well I wish to just put behind me and focus on 2013. The lows of 2012 were just that, lows, mega lows and well the highs were good, but somehow they were over shadowed by the lows so they are not as much of a highlight as I would have liked them to be.

I guess I can sum up 2012 as being a year of mixed emotions with new people coming into my life and people who were never really in my life being evicted from my life ones and for all. Strange how that happens but I guess its the balance of life.

So its onwards and upwards for 2013!

I have already made a start on the new me for 2013.

I have started to weed out the people in my life that do not add any substance to my life. We just do not need these sort of people in our life that drag us under and use and abuse our friendships. It takes too much effort to support those that cant take the time of day to reciprocate the love, attention and dedication to the friendship that you may put into it. My biggest problem is I am way too soft hearted and it has taken my heart being crushed in 2012 to relise this. Its taken too long for me to relise this and as a result I had a lot of weeding to do! More weeding to be done I am sure as time progresses and I realise who are the true people that matter in my life. The people that both need me and I need them. True friends.

Another big change in my life is my weight! 6 months ago I weighed 111 kg’s ( 245 lb’s / 17 ½ st ) and as I type this I am now down to 98 kg’s ( 216 lb’s / 15.4 st ) I don’t know about you but as I type them weights they don’t look a lot on their own. But it is a 13 kg’s (28.66 lb’s / 2 st) drop in weight and it sounds loads more impressive if you describe it as that !

Weight Loss

Weight Loss

So why the weight loss ? Well for a number of reasons.

  1. Its not healthy for you to be over weight (BMI of over 28! ) 
  2. Was not feeling good in myself ( lacking in confidence and not having much luck on finding a partner – a low point of 2012 was my boyfriend and I splitting up but the high point of that is we are still mega close, like brothers )
  3. People were worried about my health as weight related problems run the the family

The above are just a few of the main reasons. I guess the other one and this is a bit vain to say the least is I am enjoying the feedback from people about how good I am looking! But it only motivates me to keep at it. The irony is I dont really see the change in me. Ok I have dropped 4 inches off my waist and had to get a new belt and new trousers but I still see my self as a bloke with a belly. OK OK OK I still have like another 13 kg’s to go till I reach what is deemed to be my ideal weight. Give me 5 more months !

Motivation is a powerful thing. You just have to find the reason to be motivated and the rest will come easy. People keep telling me that what I am doing is amazing and must take a lot of effort. MMM does it ? I think the only real effort I have towards this weight loss game is getting up at 6am 3 times a week to go swimming at 7 am. Yeah thats hard work when its cold and dark outside. Diet is not that difficult when your not focusing too much on diet. I still have KFC / Nando’s / McDonalds etc when I feel like it. But I do try and keep off the bread and eat more veg and fruit. The other night I was shocked to see how many calories are in one of my favorit dishes. I do a fab pasta tuna dish with a cremfresh cheese sause. 1023 cal’s ! I thought it was healthy ! Its not because of the cheese and the gluten free pasta but I will still eat it and not feel guilty about it !! Just eat little and often. Portion control is paramount here. My mom has been telling me this for years and never listend. Breakfast is also mega important so is lots of water. And a routine ! Get the balance right and it all fall’s into place.

Tell the world about it all too seems to help me. Not only do the comments and feedback from my family and friends motivate me to keep on going but it also motivates others in trying to emulate me. They know the type of person I use to be and I guess they feel if I can do it with relative ease they too can.  To me that has to be the biggest buzz knowing that though my changes I am inspiring others to change too.

I am a massive fan of swimming and go 3 to 4 times a week and try to do between 60 – 70 lengths of the local 25m pool in the morning before work and sometimes after work. And I love my tech as much as I love swimming ( maybe love the tech more than swimming ) I have a great bit of kit by Garmin called the Garmin Swim it lets me track my length’s automatically and then posts them to the web so I can then share them on Facebook and or Twitter so people can see how well I am doing and comment on how mad I am. Haha! But its great motivator and I love it.

So if you need some motivation just have a look at me. I am no fitness guru or freak. Just someone who is being sensible in what I eat and do as much exercise as my body and time will permit and it seems to be working for me.

Me at over 100 kg's in 2011

Me at over 100 kg’s in 2011

Me as of the 10/10/12

Me as of the 10/10/12

You can follow my swimming progress here – one day just one day I might do the English Channel – Garmin Connect Profile 

I have already blogged about one inspirational paraplegic, Bushy McKelvey who is the initiator of the “Out On A Limb” project is a bilateral below the knee amputee. You can read about Bushy and his team progress here on their Facebook Page. But this blog is about another inspirational South African.

Oscar Pistorius AKA “The Blade Runner”  named so not because of Ridley Scott’s cult film by the same name but because of the hightech carbon fiber blades that Oscar runs on. Oscar currently holds world records for 100, 200 and 400 m sprinting events and these achievements have also earned him the title of being the “Fastest Man On No Legs”

Oscar was born in Sandton South Africa on November 22nd 1986 with with congenital absence of the fibula in both legs. When he was 11 months old, his legs were amputated halfway between his knees and ankles.  But this did not slow the lad down in any shape or form.  In his younger years he played rugby at school and represented his province ( a province in South Africa is a bit like a county in the UK) in water polo and tennis! Oscar started running in 2004 after a serous rugby injury and well I think its safe to say the lad has not looked back or even slowed down !

I don’t think Oscar has even really seen him self as disabled. From his tweets on Twitter (@OscarPistorius) you see a very normal athlete who goes to training and keeping his sponsors happy by doing public appearances. In fact Oscar has even tried to compete against able bodied athletes but only to have IAAF ban him from using his blades at events. This was after some American scientists confirmed that that Oscar’s Össur Flex-Foot Cheetah artificial legs offered no more benefit than human legs. You can read more about this on Oscar’s official page here.

In recent months Oscar has been listed on Time’s Magazine’s top 100 most influential people. A great acknowledgement of this most inspiring athlete.

I have always hated the words “invalid” and “disabled” when it comes to describing people. Being a techie person these terms relate to access to a file or program. Both Oscar and Bushy prove that they are just as able as any person. Granted they may have something to prove to the rest of us. But don’t we all have something to prove ?

I for one will be backing Oscar in the up coming Paralympics in London and I wish Busy and the Out on a Limb team a save trip round Africa.

Links: ( You can click on the underlined text above to take you to more info and to associated info )

Oscar Pistorius Official Web Page

Oscar Pistorius on Wiki

Out on a Limb Official Web Page 

Out on a Limb Facebook 

Out on a Limb Twitter @OOALSeries

 

A little over a month ago I blogged about a truly inspirational group of bike riders that were planing on a trip from the Isle of Man all the way down though the UK and over into Africa and finishing up in Durban South Africa. You can read that blog here. But as with all best laid plans not every thing can go to plan all the time. So this is just a bit of an update to what Bushy McKelvey and Hylton Smith have been up to the past few weeks. And boy have they been busy.

Africa Map

So plan “B” is now to visit 16 countries in Africa and cover some 18,000 kms. Still an epic journey for someone who is somewhat legless. During the trip Bushy and Hylton plan to understand cultures, lifestyles and problems that disabled  people encounter on a daily basis in each of the countries visited. They will also be focusing on environmental Non-Profit organisations along the way. To be honest I think the plan “B” option of just doing an Africa trip will actually be harder than one stating in the Isle of Man and heading though Africa. Going though Africa means that you can pick and choice the countries you go though a little easier so as to avoid some of the political conflicts that are being faced in Africa. Where as this way not so easy as you have to make a massive detour round a country that you may wish to miss.

Now if that was not all, planing for an epic trip round Africa, Bushy has also set a world record ! 1500km in 24 hours on a Vespa Scooter, around the winding and sharp turning Red Star Raceway in Gauteng, to raise funds for the Out On A Limb expedition! The previous world record was set at 1178km

You can read more about the 24hr Scooter World Record Challenge here.

Well its not long now till Bushy, Hylton and their support team and camera crew depart from Pietermaritzburg, Kwa-Zulu Natal, on their epic 16 countries 18,000 kms journey.  They will be departing on Saturday 2nd June 2012 and will head down to the coast. You can follow their progress via The Out on A Limb Facebook page here and on the official Out on A Limb page where you can also find loads of info on the team and sponsors. You can also find ways of how to support the guys here too.

So I wish the Bushy, Hylton and all the team all the very best on their epic adventure and it just goes to show even when your legless  you can still stand tall and and follow your dreams to make a difference.

Swimming with the flow

Posted: 05/23/2012 in Uncategorized

Its been a few days since my last blog, sorry about that but I have been busy getting back on the fitness bandwagon. The other day I walked into the bathroom wearing my grey shirt and I thought someone had let an elephant into the bathroom. It was my reflection in the mirror. So it time to do something about the belly. So its back to the gym, swimming and a new one for me Pilates.

I have always been a keen swimmer. Geting up at 6am so as to be in the pool for 7am 3 times a week. I am defiantly not up to any form of competitive swimming thats for sure. Its just a great way to get focused for the day ahead as its quite a lonely sport, swimming up and down the 25m lane time and time again. Currently I am doing around 50 lengths in 30 mins but got a fair bit to go till I get to my personal best of 100 lengths in a hour.

One of the things that amazes me every morning, I drag my sorry ass out of bed, to go swimming ( it’s harder to do during winter when its cold and dark ) is the number of retired people that get up to do exactly what I am doing. Every morning there are 10 or so retiree’s that are going to put some swimming time in. How are these people so motivated ? Why the 7am season ? There are plenty of other seasons during the day they could go to without having to get up and some silly hour of the morning. Hell I would if it was not for me having to be at work at 8:30 !

These old timers inspire me. They could easily have a nice long lay in and do things at a leisurely pace.  But these guys are hardcore! They have been swimming all their life. This is what they do! They have been at it well before I was even a twinkel in my mom’s eye. Swimming in an out door pool come rain or sunshine. ( I am sure they weather has not changed that much in the decades so I would guess it was more rain than sunshine! ) They have not yet tired of the lonely slog up and down the lane. To them this is just more than an attempt at longevity. Its a social event too. One to catch up on the gossip and talk about football and moan about politics and how hot the changing room is.

I feel if these hardcore old timers can do this morning after morning a young(ish) whipper snapper like me should be able to get up in the morning and feel fresh and energised to face what ever the world has to throw at me. After all these old timers have been though all sorts and yet they still get up early to maximise their day. So that they can go with the flow of life and enjoy it to the max!

How things change

Posted: 05/07/2012 in Uncategorized
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My Boy Friend and I were talking in the car yesterday on our way to see The Avengers (Marvel Avengers Assembly as its called here in the UK )  and he came up with a rather random question. Nothing to do with the movie we were on our way to see. I can’t remember the question exactly but it was something along the lines of when do we stop to aspire to do something or become someone ?

When we were kids we all inspired to be firemen, police men,doctors, or as the daughter of a friend once said to me when I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up…. “A person!” We all aspire to be a key figure in society when we are young and innocent. As we grow up our idea’s of what we aspire to be and achieve in life changes too. We learn the being a fireman or police officer is an under paid and dangerous profession so we raise our sights a bit. Doctors and Lawyers are now top of our aspirations list.

But my Boy Friend wanted to know what’s after that ?

Not that easy to answer is it ? But I thought I would give it a go and maybe it is simple to answer as being we just don’t stop striving to be the top of your game I guess.

I can’t remember what was I wanted to be when I was a kid. I guess it was the fireman or police man. It might have even been Super Man or He-Man at the time. But I at a young age I doubt any of us really had a 60 year plan to where we wanted to be in life. My life has changed it course so many times over the last 10 / 12 years its unreal. But I guess our 60 year plan is in the back of our head being played out. We may not even relise it as being such. I know in my life I wanted to do all sorts of things. Become a paramedic when I left school to getting into communications when I arrived back in the UK. None of these were realised but it dint matter as all I really ever wanted to be was at the top of my game.

In work we start from the bottom and we work our way up. It just depends how high you want to go really. In life we work at being respected by our peers and family. We treat people as we wish to be treated in return. And we focus on the goals that we set our selfs. Realistic goals.

I think being at the top of our game is what we all aspire too. I am in my mid thirties and still climbing my way to the top of my end game. I still have a bucket list of things to do and a corporate lader to climb. But I am lucky in the fact I can say if the world was to come to an end right now that I have lived. I have achieved many things and over come many hurdles too. But they are the things that drive me and motivate me. It would be a sad waste of ones life if you had not achieved anything in your time alive. Even if its a small thing. It need only be a small thing that you can step back and be proud of. Over coming all odds to come out on top. Thats all it has to be. There are plenty of people who can be a lot worse off than yourself. But they find some form of inner strength to over come these hurdles in their life, to get to the top of their game.

It is these sort of people that inspire me. The ones that don’t have it all dished out to them on a golden platter. That have turned life’s challenges into strengths and have said “NO! I will not be a victim! I am a survivor!”  And we can all draw strength from these people too. Its one of the reasons I am doing this blog. So that others can be aware of these people who have not played the victim card and carried on doing the best they can with what they got in order to be at the top of their game.

So if you feel you have not achieved much in life, take a step back. Look at yourself and look at what you have done in your life. Look at the hurdles you have over come and reflect. And you should see that you have come alone way in your life time. If you still feel you have not come along way to being at the top of your game, then look at others who have, and ask your self what has it taken to get to where they are in life? Use there story as inspiration and motivation let that be your strength. Life is not easy but you will grow stronger as a result of the hurdles you have to jump over to get to the top of your end game. And if all else fails, try try again. But you need not do it alone too. Like every top athlete in their race to be at the top of their game they have a team behind them supporting them and encouraging them along there way to be the fastest and the strongest. So if you need a helping hand, do not be scared to ask for the help so as to relise your end game. I know this to be true, from my own personal experience in life. Hard work, blood sweat and tears have helped me get quite far but the support of family, friends, work colleagues and my Boy Friend have all helped me to get where I am in life. They all inspire me ! Yours should inspire you !

Its not every day I am touched as deeply as I was by this story. I am not ashamed to tell you it brought a tear or two to my eyes.

I am not going to say any more other than click the link below.

The Cab Ride I’ll Never Forget | Zen Moments.