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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Halloween from the Kalahari

Boo !!!

Taken as a screen shot from a YouTube clip (thanks, Nicole), you will see that Brett is still in high spirits despite the conditions dealt to him by the Kalahari.  If you see this clip, and replay it let's say about three times, you will hear a very soft and very quick "hullo".  This is the typical 'hullo' he gives his girls when being funny.  Before Brett left, Shelley gave him the orange Halloween teeth to sport on Halloween, never thinking he actually would.  When I showed her the clip this evening, she almost fell off the sofa with laughter.  It has gotten to a point of not bringing up the subject of Daddy too much because she becomes very weepy.  My worst is Wednesday's when she reminds me that it is 'track nights' and daddy isn't here to take her!  Breaks my heart.  At least tonight, she was able to see him and laugh and I mean really laugh!!


Today was the second to last day of this unfathomable race.  For me it has been an eternity yet when I sit back to reflect, it seems like he left only a couple of days ago.  To Brett, well we will only know how he sees it when he comes home with a mindful of stories to share.  As the race winds down, these runners are constantly reminded of what awaits them back at the Augrabies Lodge:  warm showers, soft towels, SOAP!, soft bedding, fun banter and plenty of 'real' food and alcohol.  Everything they deserve short of the warm embraces of the people so proud of them.  That comes later!  

Now that I have seen him and seen his untainted witt, sarcasm and humor, I feel content in knowing he is where he wants to be.  Brett Johnston is doing what he wants to do and is where is chose to be along with people who share the same desires, similar beliefs and potentially, insane  goals.  If you had asked me 24 years ago what I thought Brett would be doing when he turns 40, this is, by far, the most ridiculously laughable idea that anyone could have come up with.  But truth be known, a short nine years ago, the love of my life arrived in the USA with at least 90lbs more than he has now.  Someone who never exercised or complained of his wife's baking.  Now I get an earful when I bake (because he can't walk by without eating it) and questioned why I haven't baked this week (when the jar is empty).  I, Theresa Johnston, give up!  

We are all amazing people with valuable qualities that not many take the time to see.  The next time you have the opportunity to see someone differently, please do.  You will be amazed at what you see when you look just that little bit deeper.  

Tomorrow is Brett's last race day.  If I could send him anything it would be all the strength and energy from my own body.  He already has a strong mind.  I have energy, there's no doubt, however, if any of you readers could send him strength....GO FOR IT!!!!

See Brett and these times in the clip:
1 minute 36 seconds
3 minutes 38 seconds (Brett's new friend?? Saying Brett is kickin his butt)
3 minutes 41 seconds (A saying he said when we were teens "Love to stay and chat, but must be on our way - thinking of you Stewart)
14 minutes 41 seconds (Halloween- the famous orange teethed "Hullo")

(Click link above)

Thanks for following....

Love and Peace

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"Setting Sun ... Rising Moon"!!

That's exactly what Brett said as he was quoted by the race journalist.  And so true to personality, too.  Many other quotes had short stories to tell.  Brett: "Setting sun and rising moon".

After no communications yesterday, their longest run day (79km) yet, I didn't like not knowing.  It took all I had to preoccupy myself with work, kids, appointments, etc.  If he could just get through this day I know he will be fine, is a line I kept saying over and over again.  I successfully convinced myself he would.  Finally, today at 4:30pm I saw the race results.

Apparently, on Monday night, the camp was very quiet in anticipation for Tuesday's long stretch.  I bet many didn't sleep well at all.

Brett remains in 18th place while taking 14h48 to complete the days run through heavy wind that was not friendly, scorching heat and thick sand banks.  Running through the morning, afternoon and then dark and unfamiliar night took these athletes to different levels of mental states.  Two athletes ran a little too close to a cobra who waited in the sand.  That would have had me running on air!!! The various colors of sand must have made for a sight to remember, although, I still wouldn't choose to be there.  They had a full moon to guide them into camp at the end of their run yesterday.  A simple reminder of the amazing planet on which we live.  A natural beauty to shine upon a group so dedicated.

Packing on an additional 79km to the already completed 128km, I couldn't even begin to imagine what Brett's legs must feel like, if he can feel them at all.  

I look forward to the next race report.  I get very little info, if any at all.  I blog when I can :)

Thanks for following.

Love and Peace,

Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 2 .... along with 122F temps for company

(Click link above)

Day 2 was the toughest challenge yet.  Starting with a 300m climb up the Orange River gorge gave the athletes a taste of what lay ahead.

“The first climb set the tone for the day.” – Brett.

With a staggering temperature that reached 122F (50C) Brett finished day two in 7h10.  Some were not so fortunate.  Five competitors were withdrawn from the race due to a prior a hernia issue and heat exhaustion.  An emotional end to a goal set high.  These athletes will return to the Augrabies Falls Lodge for the duration of the race and return to Johannesburg along with their fellow athletes that took part in this extreme marathon(s).

Each day that I open up the race results I hold my breath as I scroll down the screen in search of Brett's name.  So far, it has appeared as wished and I get to take that next breath.  

From watching the YouTube clip from yesterday, the grueling sand and intense heat is taking its toll on the athletes.  I can see the energy depleting in each of their faces as the days progress.  It's plain and simply just long!  Long and hot and lonely during those many hours of continued movement.  I wonder what goes through their minds with so much time to do little but focus on themselves, their bodies and their minds.   

While we brace ourselves for hurricane Sandy, I can't help but appreciate the times I have had Brett at home to help pack away garden furniture and loose items outside or secure the trash barrels.  It isn't fun but it's now taken care of.  

Thanks for following.

Love and Peace,

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Day 1 - Completed ..Sand, Sand, Sand and more SAND!!!

(Click link above)

(At registration)
(I'd know those feet anywhere!)
Taken at registration!!

At 9:00am South African time on Saturday, October 27, 2012, a group of 'Extreme'-ly insane athletes took to the sandy trails of the Kalahari desert.  Hot, dry and with a long day ahead, each runner out to conquer their goal.  A Goal that we, at home, couldn't possibly comprehend.

Patrick Hobbs blew the foghorn which marked the start of the 245 km journey through the relentless Kalahari.  I can only imagine the surge of adrenalin felt by both athletes and crew members, alike.  

With milder temperatures at the start of the race accompanied with a most welcomed breeze, the race began.  Not too much later the terrain turned into the real Kalahari oven it's promised to be.  

Brett did really well on his first day covering a total distance of 18.6 miles in 4hrs52.
Completing his first day at number 25 in mens overall.  

“I fear this was just a warm up for what’s about to come. It was an amazing day with fantastic views and lots and lots of sand.” - Brett (taken from race director's report)

My friend, Jess, and I sat up to toast the start of Brett's journey with filled glasses.  I cannot deny the fact that a tear pricked my eye however, that tear represented excitement and pride for the man in my life.  Thanks Jess for staying up with me (and helping polish off that yummy bottle of red).

While Brett was not spotted in this YouTube clip, you will see what their first day was like.  Quite honestly, after watching this I am more convinced than ever that the love of my life is indeed, having a mid-life crisis!!!  Just saying...... 

(Click link above)

More to come tomorrow....

Thanks for following.

Love and Peace,

Friday, October 26, 2012

He's's there....they finally meet...Brett and the Kalahari

Click Above
(This song was written and sung by Race Director, Simon Kelly)

I spoke to Brett this morning and he still sounds energized and ready for this race.  

While on the bus ride to the Kalahari, the trailer the bus was towing had a tire blow out.  Unfortunately, that set the journey back by approximately 3 hours.  In total, the bus ride from Johannesburg to the Augrabies Falls took 14 hours!  I could handle that on a plane however, on a bus? No!

He said he got to spend time with the race crew and a few racers (others went to bed early) late last night and they shared their many stories of races past.  He learned a lot from that, I guess. 

This morning they had their own time to do as they wished until 10:30am.  Thereafter, each racer went through the medical assessment which included Doctor's clearance letters and general health checks.  Their dehydrated foods were inspected for all seven days and confirmed to be at a minimum of 2000 calories.  Brett's did fine!  

In the afternoon, all racers and crew went on a Game drive through the Kalahari.  They were at arms length away from Giraffes and the baboons were everywhere.  He didn't list all the animals he saw but said it was great.  Tonight, they will enjoy dinner at the Augrabies Fall Lodge.  Their last 'real' meal until Friday, November 2nd, when they will enjoy (and feast upon) light sandwiches after they finish the race.  Can you imagine what that is going to taste like after seven full days of dried and dehydrated food?  It sends shivers down my spine!  While their taste buds may jump up and down with joy, I do feel bad for those digestive systems!  

At 8:00am tomorrow (2:00am US time) the 13th Annual Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon will begin.  The crew consists of race Director's, Medical Doctor's, many photographer's and videographer's, massage therapists, trauma nurses, etc.  This is a well organized race, no doubt.  So, I tell myself, Brett has this one...he is going to nail it.  

Until later, thanks for following...

Love and Peace,

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The 'Eagle' has landed !!!

Brett landed at Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg at 8:10am South African time (2:10am US time) and ALL his luggage arrived safely, too.  Hows that for luck considering he didn't even put a name tag on his most important bag?!!

Although he didn't sleep on the journey over, his voice was filled with energy.  My brother, Chris, text me to say he had my precious cargo and all was well.  The girls and I got to speak to Brett one last time before the upcoming 'incommunicado' for seven days :( sad face!!  He had just been to the pub and had a good old South African burger and laughed when I told him "no fair"!  Sweet revenge, I'll find it!!

At 6:30am tomorrow morning Brett will embark on a 10 hour bus ride to Augrabies Falls National Park.  Once there, he will collect a map, chalet keys and a breakfast pack (I have no idea what a breakfast pack is!).

Tomorrow night they will all enjoy a typical South African 'potjie' for dinner.  NOW I'm envious...that's just not right!!! Many of our American friends have feasted on our winter potjie's and know how amazing they are however, nothing beats one is S.A!!  Nothing! Potjiekos....
English: Pot - Afrikaans: Potjie
English: Food - Afrikaans: kos

While the days are hot in the Kalahari, averaging around 100F the nights quickly turn cold (40F).  That's a vast difference.  Some may find relief in the vastness but others might find it too extreme.  African's will not enjoy the dramatic change in climate.  Well I surely wouldn't.  We African's love the heat, in all shapes and forms.  Cold is not an option.

To Brett:  Sleep well my love.  You will need it.  We love you and look forward to tracking your race.  Just remember...... DFIU!!!!

Thanks for following all,

Love and Peace,

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bags and Cabs and Airplanes .. Oh My!

With alarm set for 4am, Brett rolled out of bed even though he had been awake for some time before that awful tone he has set on his phone sounded.  I felt him tossing and turning during the night, clearly in anticipation for the long haul he has ahead of him.  A short flight to New York City followed by a grueling 16 hour (approx.) flight to Johannesburg, S.A.  Those flights are wicked in every way imaginable. He has been in the air for about 11.5 hours now but there is only so much reading, eating, drinking (not that he will be doing any of that before this race) and movie watching one can do.  Let's hope he can get some sleep, at least.

I woke up at 5:30am and text him saying: "Don't forget to put name tag on your checked baggage", then attempted some more sleep.  Only a few hours later my phone beeped showing a message from him: "Ha ha ha, I forgot about that.  Oh well, let's hope it gets there, it has all my food in it".  MEN!!!!  Just a minor detail - food.  Who needs it anyway!!  See what happens when wifey doesn't do things?  Just sayin......

After one day in Johannesburg with my brother, Chris and his family, Brett will take a ten hour bus ride out to the Kalahari desert.  There, he and fellow runners will enjoy a full day of orientation.  The race begins on Saturday with a temperature averaging 99F.  At time of departure from 86 Creeley Road, his backpack weighed in at 24lbs (give or take a few oz).  I wonder what (if anything) he will purge while in JHB.  One thing's for sure..that legendary golden speedo isn't going anywhere.  Aside from his food and 'bag balm', that item is his most valued possession.  He will make you proud BTT.  Thank God I'm not there!!!!

A fellow runner posted a picture of what they found now and when they were racing last year...I can barely bring myself to post the picture since anyone who knows me, knows the intense fear I have of snakes...but here it is...a black spitting Cobra....

A post from a fellow runner who gave me a good chuckle today was this one:

For those of you who don't know all food is dried because of weight.  They will boil water to add to dried meals (I can't even imagine!).  But imagine having this? LOL

I look forward to hearing my favorite man's voice on the phone tomorrow, at some point.  

Good night!

Thanks for following!

Love and Peace,

Monday, October 22, 2012

One more sleep ......

One more sleep.....and you're off!!!

We never know where, exactly, our journeys' might take us to, but we do hope that it lands us at a place we had hoped for....or at least pretty close.  We make these crazy decisions in life, then sit, with baited breath, waiting to see if it was worth it.  Well, in Brett's case, I damn well hope so!!

Our family have the most wonderful 'surrogate' family members here in America.  We are one very fortunate family to have family both far and near.
On a whim, I decided to give Brett a little send-off.  He had NO idea, I had it all sorted as a surprise, and everything went way too smoothly, until we drove up to the side of the house and Brett was getting window replacement lessons from Noah, and saw the cars pull up.  A very confused Brett, wondering why Ed was following his wife in her car, finally put it together and laughed his ass off.   The day was filled with conversations with his 'peeps', wine, beer, laughs, hugs and many cheers.  Oh ...... and possibly the BEST poster ever...Thanks Jess!!!  You rock star!

What's not to love, right? Right!  Jess is the pro at making any occasion just that more special by throwing in a completely unexpected twist!


I ordered the cab for 4:20am tomorrow morning.  Brett should get to the airport with some time to spare.  I just couldn't face driving him at such an early hour and being an emotional mess all the way home, then having to get the girls to school and me into work for a long and stressful day.  Belmont taxi - you better get him and his luggage there on time!! Just saying..... LOL

Shelley did not do well with her bedtime tonight.  Daddy put her to bed and little sobs came from the purple girls room.  It was sad....daddy is her hero.  Brett tucked her in, chatted to her, consoled her, and then I took over.  I finally had her giggling at the fact that daddy has a 'golden speedo' that he has to sport somewhere in Africa for the BTT team!  Thank you, golden speedo!!!!

It's 10:25pm and Brett is in bed, asleep.  I'm sad but happy.  My soul mate is about to embark on a dream.  I have to make sacrifices too in order for him to do this.  A small price to pay in order for your man to fill that bucket list....yes.....alas.....that freaking bucket list!!

Thanks for following......please sign up as a follower.  Brett will be able to view his followers while in Johannesburg and Cape Town...

Love and Peace

Friday, October 19, 2012

Four days and counting (dreading)!

Four days and counting (dreading!)

Four days from now Brett will be in-flight, South Africa bound.  Doing a mental check of all the things he needed to pack – what he might have left behind (c’mon, everyone leaves something behind) and hopefully sleeping on that long and torturous flight.

Four days from now I will be at work, fighting back those dreadful tears.  Brett and I do not do well apart, never have, and never will.  I remind myself every day that this ‘thing’ he is doing is a happy thing (for him!) and to be happy for him.  So far, I’m getting there ;)

It seems race registration is set up and ready to go at the Augrabies Falls Lodge.  The race Director’s have been hard at work every day setting up for this 6 day stage race.  When I look at the pictures they have taken so far, I see all the flags representing the various Countries of corresponding runners, the American flag is there J  These people are no ordinary gals and guys, (obviously, coz they’re all crazy for doing this) instead, as they put it, are a family.   I follow their posts each day on Facebook and am reminded that many of them have never met yet each day they are sharing tips, new-finds and sending encouraging words.  Today they posted pictures of the sandy river beds.  “Sandy river beds”?  Seriously?  A river of sand perhaps but no water to be seen!  Holy hell…perhaps someday I will find where the fun factor is in all of this…. just haven’t found it yet!

In his final days of prep, Brett will do a run tomorrow (Saturday), vacuum seal all his meals for seven days, pack and then hopefully chill as much as he can before he leaves early on Tuesday morning. 

This poor man’s toes!  I have never seen such messed up toes in all of my life.  They’re black and blue!  I see pictures of the other runners taping their toes (each toe is individually wrapped) but when asked he says not yet.  Well, OK then…..

He will certainly see some amazing sunrises and sets, thats a guarantee.  African sunsets will send shivers down your spine they are indescribable.  He's also bound to meet many a 'friend' as he turns corners like others did last year (photo borrowed from a previous runner).  Imagine his surprise running straight into this?!

Well this is about all for today.  This evening we are having our last date night before he leaves.  Monday night he has requested a family dinner (the four of us) and then off he goes.

Watch this space for more to come!
Thanks for following!

Love and Peace,

Friday, October 12, 2012

T Minus 14 days ... and counting!!

It's true..... Brett is experiencing his mid-life crisis!  Or so I am convinced.  No-one can tell me otherwise since this is just insane to me.  Then again, doing a triathlon is unfathomable to me, too.  My mid-life crisis is/will be a purse dog, new kitten or a camping camper.  But this?  Well, as my brother would say "All my life!!!"

But alas, being the wifey that I am, I encourage and support him all the way, although it will be virtual support this time :(  Nicole, Shelley and I (and the cat - Weeties) will stay behind in the cold fall weather while Brett experiences an average temp of 105 degrees F, daily!

This Blog will include the daily update from the race Director's, as I receive them.  Usually once a day.  I will also write from Brett's girl's perspectives, all four of us!  At times the Director's will send along YouTube clips and I will post the links to those, too.  I hope you become a follower to support Brett and enjoy the posts I do to keep you all informed.  For me, for 7 days, no news is good news.  There is zero contact between Brett and I in that time.  So you can imagine, I will be sitting with baited breath until he arrives in Johannesburg after the race so that we can communicate.

So, let's begin.....


On January 3rd this year, Brett did his first trail run, ever (thanks Jorge!).  He fell in love instantly.  Every few weeks a boxed package would arrive on the front door step.  Nicole and I secretly hoping he had ordered something fun, only to find very brightly colored trail running sneakers!  Major disappointment!  First ones were too big, next ones were not comfortable, others were OK, then he needed extra's.  Cha Ching!

As the time has drawn nearer, the time spent running has intensified.  As all you triathlon/runners will agree, the time spent training increases ten-fold as you near a race date and for us wives and families, it means daddy is away more and schedules become more of our responsibilities than usual.  But again, if we can accommodate his desire to fill that bucket list, then we support it.  I just hope he supports my purse dog, kitten or camping camper!!!!

Today, I post my first picture.  This is his back pack that he will be running with each day.  It weighs 25lbs.  It consists of all his food for seven days, bedding, emergency supplies, medical supplies, clothing (minimal) and titanium cup (used for bowl as well) and utensils.  Every ounce counts!

As Shelley would say "Daddy, you're cray".....

Am I nervous? Yeah I'm nervous.  Running a marathon every day and on other days just under that distance is grueling and especially in that heat.  But this blog shall be my therapy.  My girls, being a single parent and my job will keep me focused on other things and when I hear his voice on November 4th, all will be well :)

GO BRETT GO!!!!!  JY IS MAL.....