Lessons From The Otter Trail Run

2 Days ago I finished one of the most grueling one day races I have taken on by far. The Otter Trail Run is a 42km trail, running along one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. It is a monster! Relentless! And unforgiving…

It just keeps on going on and on and on and on. Just as you think the repetitive steps is over, another stretch of steps stares you in the face.

It’s a killer! But it stays beautiful…

But what I have learned from The Otter Trail was much more than race strategy, plyometrics, hill repeats, etc, etc…

The life lessons outspans these by a number of 1000… But before I dive into them, I need to give some context…

Almost a year ago, me and my brother decided to do the Otter. Not together though. I’m way to competitive and he would just frustrate me. So our training programs kicked off separately. He in the Northern Cape where there is virtually nothing else but mine heaps and me, on the other hand, in the Trail Haven: Cape Town.

I knew that running and finishing the Otter with him would be more difficult than running a sub 5h 30 min…

I soon realized that Nico doesn’t know what he is letting himself into. With no trail race under his belt and no race done further than 21 km, I knew that he was going to be deeply disappointed with the outcome on race day…

I knew I had to sacrifice my own ego and moments of glory I was seeking so much. I also knew that running and finishing the Otter with him would be more difficult than running a sub 5h 30 min.

And this is where my lessons started:

1. Commitment
The best preparation for anything in life is to know first of all what you are committing for.

I knew what I was committing to. I was committing to run with my brother at his pace. 11 min/km pace. I knew I was committing to stick with him no matter what. If he doesn’t finish, then I dont finish. If he stops, then I stop. If he complains then I dont get irritated.

If I wasnt clear on this from the start, I would have dropped him at 15 km already. I would have gotten irritated with him. And our relationship would reflect the scars in years to come.

2. Relationships
Relationships last when I know what I commit to and then take responsibility for anything else unforeseen.

There are some things in life that we can’t foresee after we have made a commitment. But the fact that I have committed to it should encourage me to be a man of character and to handle these unforeseen circumstances with back bone.

When I decide to pursue a lady, I realize and know that there are some really scary stuff that I will discover about her. Stuff that I didn’t anticipate for. Stuff that might make me want to leave her. A man of character choose to take responsibility even when it gets messy.

This is how relationships last.

3. Patience
The best way to stay patient is to understand and appreciate how other people view time.

Nico just wanted to finish the race. 8 hours. That’s it. Anything else would be a bonus. I wanted to finish the race with him. But as fast as possible. We had different perceptions of 8 hours. And because of this, there were times when I got really impatient and irritated with him.

There will be times when my wife will be a lot more immature, insecure or weaker than me. Times where this weakness will limit my career or life ambitions. But taking the ‘me’ out of this sentence, refocusses the attention to where she is, and develops a new appreciation and understanding of time.


My life is changed! I thought I was going to do the Otter Trail Run, but actually I did life… Life is in all activities we do. We choose whether we do an activity or life.

My experience is that Life is always more rewarding…

Choose Life!

PS: Here is a video of us just after we swam through the Bloukrans River: www.vimeo.com/51588235

One Response
  • Ronelle

    “I have come that you may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly” -Jesus Christ
    Abundantly – Superabundance,excessive, overflowing, surplus, over and above, profuse, extraordinary,more than sufficient. Life , the complete opposite of death in body, soul, spirit.Life, the absence of anything that signify breakdown or destruction.Life is to be completely whole- to be healed.

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