#AVonVoyage to Dubai

Last Thursday I hopped on board an Emirates plane en route to Dubai in the UAE. I had a bit of a scare at the airport, with my exit permit not being issued in time, but luckily after several frantic calls all before 5 am, I managed to get it. The mission for the trip? Well firstly, to complete the Standard Charted Dubai Marathon… My first real marathon, really. The last marathon I did was in April when I participated in my first IRONMAN event. Yip, that was my first marathon. What a way to introduce yourself to marathon running, huh?

The last time I was in Dubai was in 2012. I had no expectations when I got there, and so my time there was a lot more than I ever imagined it would be. The city was vibey, fun and my friends looked after me real good. It was enough for me to start looking at any working opportunities there. It wasn’t meant to be, but now being based in Doha, Qatar, it’s a lot easier to visit the city. So upon my return to the city, I was absolutely blown away by how much it has changed. For one, it’s a lot ‘taller’. There are so many more buildings, so many skyscrapers. The Dubai Canal is a new addition to the city, and the Metro is fully functional too. This city is truly world class, and they aren’t playing games when it comes to proving how much they want to be considered as such.

I headed off to the race registration. Now usually you find a big expo with loads of stalls and brands showing off all their latest trends and products. So I was a bit taken aback by the lack of exhibitors there. In fact, I was disappointed because I was hoping to get myself a new pair of running shoes there. I mean, in my head there’s no better place than the number one hub for runners, right? Alas, it is what it is and the one good thing is that I didn’t have to stand in too long a queue, which is always a bonus. All wrapped up, all registered and now officially ‘poeping’ myself, I headed off to my hotel. If you’re ever looking for a central place to stay, I would definitely recommend the Metropolitan Hotel. It’s newly refurbished, it’s a short walk from the FGB Station and it’s very affordable too. The room was comfy and it’s close to the Burj Al Arab…. So it comes highly recommended. It worked very well for me too because it was about 3kms from the start and finish of the race. There’s also a really nice grocery store down the road (it sells biltong). PLUS if you’re South African, there’s a Mugg & Bean in the centre too… A little taste of home never hurt. Gosh, was that necessary. I vowed to get myself a banana muffin after the race, but that didn’t happen this time around. So I’ll just have to go back I guess 😉

On race morning, I got up early, enjoyed my High Protein Futurelife and then headed to the start. It was supposed to be pretty chilly, but to be honest the humidity kept it quite warm. Perfect for running really. After checking in my bag, I made my way to the start – EEEEEEEEEK! I’ve come this far, the only thing left to do now is to run. And that I did. I managed to find my rhythm quickly and I slowed my pace down too. Sidebar, I recently did a 21km training in Doha and I managed to do it in 1:38, which is my fastest. Granted it’s flat here and the weather is perfect. I didn’t expect to keep that pace for the marathon. In fact, I knew I had to slow down, and that’s what I did. I found a group of runners from Dubai, who were running a really nice pace, and so I hooked onto their bus and ran with them. At around 19kms, I need to use the little boy’s rooms, and so by the time I was done (like literally 2minutes), they were gone. I tried to catch up, but they’d upped their pace and I couldn’t keep up. I kept it steady, though and found another group to run with. At around 30kms in, the wheels started coming off. I think I’d pushed a little too hard. That coupled with old running shoes and too little distance training in the build up. It was possibly the longest 12kms of my life. I battled through, but I came out on top and managed to sneak in a time of 3:48… Super stoked about that one, seeing as though my marathon time in Ironman was a long 4:50.

A few lessons learned on the run:

– Don’t drink too much

– Get your nutrition right. All I wanted were some baby potatoes (my mum will be happy)

– Slow it down in the beginning, and pick it up for the last 10kms

– Do more longer, slower distance training in the build up

– Make sure your running shoes are conducive to running long distances like this

– Have fun

If you have any tips, please feel free to share with me too.

I really did enjoy the experience and I’m keen to do more marathons now… I’m a global runner and I love this ish. Between running, swimming, cycling and a combination of all three in the form of triathlon, expect more travel and race reports from me. I’m longing to go to Ironman South Africa, but it’s looking unlikely. New York City Triathlon in July is definitely on the cards – entry was paid for last year and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Plus it’s New York City… My home away from home 🙂 As for the city of Dubai. Well, I do love thee. The pulse, the people, the forward-thinking types, the infrastructure, the cleanliness, the services, Dubai stays winning. I’ll be back there soon, but first we prep for ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi 2017 in March.


Hello from Doha, Qatar

It has been a while since my long blog post… I think it’s because I’ve been so busy trying to settle into my new environment, my new job, and my new way of life in the Qatari city of Doha. It has been almost four months, and it’s time for my blogging hiatus to come to an end.

A quick recap… A lot of you still may not have realised, but I no longer live in SA. I moved to Doha, Qatar on the 11th of August. I was yearning for an adventure abroad and so when the opportunity to come out here and work on a very exciting project (well four), I simply couldn’t turn it down. It scared me to no end. I mean I knew one old university friend was based here and besides her, I knew of a few people who knew my people in some way. That’s part of the adventure huh? Some of the things I’ve done since I’ve been here:

  • Been a #YesMan… Go meet people from all walks of life because why not? And boy have I met some incredible humans.
  • Use apps like Internations, Meetup or dare I say it, even Tinder
  • Tenpin bowling. It’s not novel, but it’s fun and a good way to let your hair down
  • Go smoke shisha at the Souq Waqif
  • Walk and explore (not in the height of summer because it’s revolting). In my case, it’s run ’cause you know… Triathlete
  • I went dog walking… I love dogs, I needed some attention from our furry friends, and they needed some love and affection too. The fit was right. So fulfilling, special and I met some awesome people too
  • Tried a vegan restaurant. Absolutely delicious!!! IF you ever come and visit the city (or me) we’re going to Evergreen Organics
  • Desert safari with friends
  • Visited the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA)
  • Kayaking around Katara Recreation Centre
  • Mall shopping (there are malls for days in these parts)
  • Joined a triathlon club

Some of you might think that’s what I do back at home. Yes, you’re right… For some of these, but for most of the listed items above, I’ve taken for granted. Before coming here, I slipped into a routine, a comfort zone if you like and that’s made me somewhat complacent. Life is about living and I’ve become a strong advocate of the idea of growth only being possible when you’re out of your comfort zone. There’s a limit though and we need to be able to draw the line or strike a balance between what is possible and what isn’t. No experience is ever wasted, but I’d much rather be doing stuff and fail, then to live in a bubble and wonder what if? Or worse, have regrets.

I went back to SA a few weeks back and that was good for the soul. Seeing your family, your friends… Your people is best. Having said that, I was pretty excited to head back here. I think that’s a good sign, right? 🙂

And so with this massive change in my life, I feel like it’s only fitting that my blog content shifts  slightly too. There will be more adventure, more news on health and wellness (my journey in this space), more on the city of Doha, but there will still be entertainment too. I hope you’ll my #DesertDiary and this project I call #AVonVoyage.

Q&A with Tough Rides: Brazil’s Ryan Pyle


The new season of Tough Rides kicks off on Travel Channel on 23 July. Check out my Q&A with host, Ryan Pyle to see what he gets up to in this season of Tough Rides: Brazil:

1.    On 23 July, your show Tough Rides: Brazil kicks off on Travel Channel, channel 179 on DStv. Riding a bike can be nerve-wracking at the best of times. Do you get nervous leading up to a new show’s debut on TV?
RP: I don’t get nervous when I am riding motorcycles, but it can always be a little bit scary when you travel around a country as wonderful as Brazil and you have so many honest and intimate moments with people, and you wonder if your television audiences around the world will “buy in” and want to follow in your footsteps and watch the rest of the episode. My goal is to explore, educate and storytell, and I think we did that in Brazil.


2.    In this series, you’re riding across South America’s biggest country, Brazil. What is the best aspect about traversing a country like this on nothing but a bike?
RP: A motorcycle puts you in touch with a country the way a car or bus or train never can. On a motorcycle you are connected to nature, to the weather, to the landscape and to the people. It’s a 360 degree experience that is real, rich and incredibly fullfilling.


3.    How did this idea come about?
RP: We are now in Season #3 of Tough Rides. I’ve already completed journey’s in China (S1) and India (S2). Originally my brother joined me in China and India and it was a wonderful experience, it was something that we had always wanted to do. Instead of “riding around the world” I always just wanted to learn as much about one country at one time; so riding a motorcycle for a few weeks or months around a single country and learning as much as possible about what makes that country special is just wonderful and very rewarding. The best way to explore the world is on two wheels.

4.    In the first episode, you’re in the incredible city of Rio de Janeiro, which is amazing. It can also be a bit scary in parts, can you tell us a bit about that?
RP: Rio is a city of great contrasts. If you stay near Copa Cabanna beach where all the tourists are then there are no real issues. If you go wandering off in other parts of the city there could be some issues. We toured the favella’s as part of our series and it was a unique look at a city of great constrasts. Highly educational.


5.    When you’re in these different cities, or making your way from A to B, do you ever get time to just pull over and admire the beauty, the scenery, the people?
RP: Sure, we always stop and film and meet people on the road and take our time. We are never rushing from A to B, and most of the time the best stories and the best people we meet are in those places inbetween. My series is un-scripted for the most part so we are always on the look-out for chance encounters.


6.    What were some of your personal highlights that perhaps didn’t quite make the TV cut?
RP: There is so much content that never makes it in to the TV Cut. Wow, where do I begin? There were a lot of challenging moments along the BR-319, the most dangerous road in Brazil, that we were just unable to film because of extreme conditions due to personal safety. But that could have been an entire series all by itself. I hope I can go back at some stage.


7.    What was the most difficult thing about the trip?
RP: The most difficult thing for me about making adventure television shows is being away from my family for long stretches at a time. As “tough” as I am in traveling by motorcycle through the Amazon, I have an incredible support team in my family….that I miss dearly everyday.


8.    If someone is going to Brazil for the Olympics next month, what are some of the words or phrases can you share with them to get by while they’re there?
RP: In Brazil, you don’t need language. You need body language. Be loose. Be fun. Smile. And be sure to drink and dance the night way, just like all the locals. You’ll be embraced but what it means to be Brazilian. What a beautiful way of life.


9.    You’re an adventurer by trade. So what’s next for Ryan? Maybe a trip from Cape Town to Cairo?
RP: I make a lot of different television shows, and Tough Rides is one of my absolute favorites. I would love to do an adventure in Africa but I would prefer to visit only one or two countries at a time and really try to learn about their diversity and what makes them special. I am less interested about crossing continents or doing “round the world” rides. I am on my motorcycle to connect with people and learn about places that I want to visit.


10.  In closing and in two sentences, why should people watch Tough Rides: Brazil?
RP: You should watch Tough Rides: Brazil because it is real, it is honest and it is epic. Enjoy the adventure!


11.  Where do we find you on the social networks?
RP: Facebook (@ryanpyle) – Twitter (@ryanpyle) – Instagram (@ryanpyle)


Gallery: SEAL live in Johannesburg

Soul superstar SEAL kicked off his South African tour in Johannesburg on Sunday, 12 June 2016. The show was held at the Ticketpro Dome in Jozi. Thousands of fans braved the cold weather and flocked to the venue to see the Kiss From A Rose hitmaker live in concert. He was supported by SAMA winner, Tresor, who definitely held his own at the gig.

SEAL’s voice is impeccable, still so magical and soulful… Just what you would expect from the star. Check out the gallery of SEAL live in concert below


#SAMA22 – Sizzling stars on the red carpet

These were my favourite looks on the #SAMA22 red carpet

Missed the show? Watch it here. A full list of this year’s winners will be updated shortly.


Chris Brown back in SA this July

ChrisBrownA couple of years ago I happened to be in Durban, and at the airport when international singer Chris Brown arrived. It was mayhem, people lost their minds when they heard he’d just touched down, so imagine what happened when he casually walked through the airport. The star was extremely friendly, but was ushered rather quickly to his vehicle.

It seems he loved Durban that much because he’s coming back for more this July. He’ll be here for what organisers are calling THE MOTHER OF ALL PARTIES. Mabala Noise Entertainment, together with Back To The Oldskool are bringing Brown down for a gig at the Kings Park Stadium on July 2nd. He’ll be sharing the stage with a whole bunch of other artists, and that line-up will be revealed in the weeks building up to the gig. For now, you can get your tickets from Computicket on the 24th. Ticket prices:

Golden Circle:  R750

General Access: R450

VIP Lounge packages: R1800.00. VIP Package includes a fully staffed facility including dedicated waitresses, hostesses, bar staff and senior management, plus much more.


The #NewSunCity is coming

Do you remember the entertainment centre at the Sun City Resort ? It used to be the hub of a lot of activity. There was a casino in the centre many years ago. It then became the centre of all things fun, and the are was filled with restaurants and pubs, a movie theatre and retailers alike. I remember spending many an evening after the Miss South Africa pageants or SAMAs, standing in the Nandos queues to get some well-earned dinner after a busy working evening. Sometimes when the work was done and we felt like letting our hair down, we’d head to the clubs there for a couple of bevvies.

MiWay Sun City Ultra_ Jason Von Berg

But even before the clubbing days, I remember the arcade games, the hippos and crocodile games that used to keep me company for hours on end. In short, the entertainment centre was exactly that, and it appealed to young, old, the hungry and the party animals 🙂

Well, it hasn’t been around for a few months now and that’s because it’s getting a major facelift. This is part of the resort’s overall revamp, which should be wrapped up and ready to be revealed later this year. I went through to Sun City recently for the MiWay Sun City Ultra. So because I’m curious, I managed to get a sneak peek at what’s going down as far as the #NewSunCity is concerned. Check out some of the pics below.

I think this new entertainment centre is going to be quite something. It’ll still have that iconic Sun City look and feel, but just newer, fresher and a lot more modern. For one, the skylight in the centre is going to be incredible. No more artificial lighting during the day, but rather the natural rays from the sun will beam its pretty self into the centre. The restaurants, movies, retailers will all return. The Sun City Superbowl remains, which is great news. There are going to be some awesome new additions in the form of the ‘Walk of Fame’. I was told about this last year, but to see where it is going to go and how it will roll out is really exciting. I’m pretty damn broody at the moment, no lies. Seeing how they’re catering for the kiddies makes me even more ready for little VB’s, but while I wait for that stage of life, I think I might just bring out my inner child again. The new designs include a ten-pin bowling area, right next to the magic centre. So you can imagine how much of a jol the young and old are going to have there.

From a corporate perspective, the first floor will have a lot of conferencing facilities. Work hard, then play hard and boy is there a lot of playing to be done. The shebeen restaurant, the amphitheatre for some acoustic music sessions, the Valley of the Waves, the golfing… It’s all there, so it’s actually great for a team building or conference venue. I asked the team if they’d experienced a drop in reservations or visitors since the plans for the revamp were initiated. Not at all. In fact, they were at capacity from a reservations perspective was concerned, and the resort was buzzing with tourists and day visitors. I guess the warm weather and close proximity to Jozi and Pretoria helps a lot too. It’s also perfect for the whole family. This time, I stayed at the Vacation Club, which is perfect for the family or for a bunch of mates.

I hadn’t been to Sun City in a couple of months, and to see how much work they’d done in that time is incredible. The chances are the next time I head up there will be for the unveiling of the #NewSunCity and I cannot wait. Fun City… Obviously, I’ll probably do another triathlon while I’m there too, haha. Stay tuned, more on this to follow.