Now that 2017 is fast approaching I thought I would take the time to do a quick reflection on 2016. This past year has certainly been one of the most challenging and rewarding years of my life.
The first adventure of the year was taking on the Comrades Marathon, which was always a dream of mine. Without a doubt it was the toughest race I have ever done but despite the pain I endured especially on the down hills, the support from the crowds along the way keep you motivated. There are no words to describe the incredible sense of achievement as you get to that finish line and receive one of the smallest medals you will ever get in a race that is such a big feat. Having completed my first comrades down run this year and proving to myself once again that nothing is impossible, I am now in for 2017 to tackle the up run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg for my back-to-back medal.
After Comrades my focus shifted to my next BIG adventure of the year, Joburg2Kili – cycling Qhubeka Buffalo bicycles 4650km from Johannesburg to Moshi at the base of Kilimanjaro and then summiting the mountain. In order to take on this 3-month expedition I had to resign from a job I was passionate about, which was a really big deal for me. However, I knew in my heart and soul that this journey was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I wanted to be part of and with that I had to take the risk to become unemployed to fulfill this dream. Having been back in Joburg now for over a month and a half, I am pleased to announce I have managed to secure a fantastic new job opportunity for 2017, which I will share more on soon. I am forever grateful for how life has turned out this year despite taking some BIG risks.
To give the Joburg2Kili journey more of a purpose we raised funds for a charity called Qhubeka. Knowing that through the money we raised, 55 children would be given a Qhubeka bicycle to ride to school made such a difference in keeping me motivated on the tough cycle legs of the Joburg2Kili Expedition. I also got to see first-hand how bicycles change lives in Africa whilst we cycled through countries like Zambia and Malawi, which was incredible to see and solidified in my mind that we had chosen the right charity. Being a fundraising activist for Qhubeka has definitely been one of the highlights of the year for me and I look forward to continuing to support this incredible NPO in 2017 and beyond.
The Joburg2Kili Expedition exceeded all my expectations. It was by no means an easy journey and we had to endure some really tough days cycling with headwinds, heat and some serious climbs and dusty, corrugated dirt roads. Despite the tough conditions at times it was incredible to travel through the African countries we visited on bicycles. We really got to experience the different cultures of each country and we were so fortunate to meet so many generous and kind people along the way. I really enjoyed exploring more of Africa on this trip and without a doubt Lake Malawi was my absolute favorite place we visited. I have been inspired from this journey to look at incorporating cycling or hiking into all our future travel plans as it is such an incredible way to explore new places.
Then the final BIG challenge of the year was summiting the highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro. The climb is a lot harder than I thought it would be but this is just because of the altitude. As long as you go Pole Pole (slowly, slowly) it is very manageable and as you are going so slowly you get to take in and appreciate the beautiful mountain and scenery around you so much more. Successfully summiting Mount Kilimanjaro on my 5th wedding anniversary with my husband was probably one of the best moments of my entire life. I don’t know how we will ever top this anniversary in years to come but it will remain one of our most memorable moments together. I have not been inspired to go out and summit the rest of the seven summits around the world after climbing Mount Kilimanjaro but I am definitely keen to look at hiking more often by spending more time in the Drakensberg and the Cape.
In summary, 2016 has been a year of stepping out of my comfort zone to take on some of the most incredible adventures of my life. Looking ahead to 2017, I’m not sure it will be able to be as BIG a year of adventures as 2016 but I certainly have some plans to take on some new and exciting challenges so watch this space to see what I get up to.
Finally, I would just like to wish all my blog followers all the best for 2017 and I hope it is year filled with lots of exciting new adventures.