The Silent Warrior – The mountain, the devil and a bottle of whiskey

I’ve had tons of requests to re-post my blog on Sky Run 2014 to understand what this goal is all about.  So here it is…

This is my personal truth.

Finally the alarm goes off.  2 AM.  I have not slept for a single minute.  Am I going to die today?

I can quite honestly say I have never been this terrified in my life – and I’ve had some hair-raising moments.  But as I listen to Adriaan moving around in the room packing up and getting ready I’m convinced that this will be my final day.  Not only will I be running further than I ever have before, but I will be conquering my fears of height, extreme weather conditions, being completely isolated – and how the hell am I going to get over the Dragon’s Ridge???

This is the Sky Run Lite.  65 kms of complete isolation in the Drakensburg.  Self supporting, self navigating, self care.

Why am I here?

To inspire.  To live my life purpose.  To show my boys what can be done.  To give others hope that anything is possible.

Fast forward 16 hours.  Night is starting to fall.  It’s been 14 hours of absolute bliss and horror in the Burg.  After a mere 11 kms I stepped into a hole and twisted my knee.  At 20 kms I had to make the call – this is the last turn-around point.  After this nobody can get to me until I reach Balloch Caves at the 60 km mark.  The remaining back-markers of the Lite have all packed it in and gone home.  But I was determined to conquer the Dragon’s Ridge as I’ve been having nightmares about this bloody piece of mountain for a month!  knee

I strapped up my knee and continued.

The next 35 kms has been a haze of pain, wanting to vomit, strapping my knee tighter and tighter, and watching the last people getting further and further away.  I’m the last soul in the field.  Despair starts creeping into my heart like tentacles of ice.  I can no longer see where I’m going.  The spotlight on my head providing a small patch of hope in front of me in a marshland of mud and tall grasses.  My knee has finally given in from the pounding on the down-hills and I’ve only reached this far by alternating between hobbling and crawling on my ass.

And that’s how I find myself sitting here in the mud.  Pain screaming through my every fiber as my ankle twisted and collapsed.  There is nobody to hear me scream.  Nobody to see the tears freely running down my face.  Nobody to keep me strong.

devil whiskey2‘Poor Anel.  So cold.  Here, have a sip of whiskey – it will warm up your limbs’

Poor me.  I’m so cold.  I should have a sip of whiskey – it will warm up my limbs.

‘Poor Anel.  So tired.  Here, have a sip of whiskey – it will revive you’

Poor me.  I’m so tired.  I should have a sip of whiskey – it will revive me.  But I just want to lie down and sleep.  Just give up and go to sleep forever and make the pain stop.

‘Poor Anel.  Hurting so much.  Here, have a sip of whiskey – it will make it all better’

Poor me.

What the hell??????  These can’t be MY thoughts.  This is NOT who I am!!

The Devil is a clever piece of work.  Waiting patiently in the shadows for years.  Waiting for a moment of weakness to strip away your power.

Dig Anel Dig!!!  Why the hell are you here?????

To inspire.  To live my life purpose.  To show my boys what can be done.  To give others hope that anything is possible.


So I get up.  I wipe snot, tears and mud from my face and put one foot in front of the other.  Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Finally the marshals come across me.  They don’t help.  They don’t even talk.  Leaving me in my own private hell to find the inner strength to keep going.  Just staying close enough to ensure I don’t kill myself.

The last 3 kms takes me 2 hours to complete!  PURE F*CKING HELL!  I stumble, I crawl, I walk.  Inside I’m screaming and crying but on the outside I’m quiet.  Don’t show the Devil your weakness.  Don’t take a sip of whiskey.

And then I see his face.  My guardian angel.  My best friend.  My husband.  The worry is etched on his face.  I can see that he has been through his own private hell waiting for me.  Seeing everyone coming into Balloch.  ‘She’s just behind us’ they told him.  That was an hour ago.

He silently walks up to me, falling in beside me.

‘I’m hurting so much Babes’.  Tears now freely flowing.

‘I know.  Just keep going.  You’re almost there.  Just around the next corner.’

My husband is an amazing person.  Just like the marshals, he understood that this was my journey.  Helping me would have taken every small victory of the day away from me.  And there were many.

With a sprained ankle and a twisted knee I was unable to cross The Wall to the finish line.  5 kilometers.  So near and yet so far.

But I had achieved more in one day than I had in 42 years.  I had found my personal darkness.  I had sat down with the Devil and a bottle of whiskey and told him to go to hell.

2015 will see me entering the SkyRun again.


To inspire.  To live my life purpose.  To show my boys what can be done.  To give others hope that anything is possible.


Walk with honor.