A place to stay: Lekoa Lodge

by Maretha Langenhoven

I guess my “hospitality” background automatically nominated me as the blogger of our accommodation, food & beverage experiences. Trust me, this is not an easy task because I am very service orientated and have the inability to see past the smaller details.

Let me start by saying that I was pleasantly surprised by Lekoa Lodge. They were the first place to return my e-mail and sponsor our stay for our first night away from home on 5 May 2014.

Leaving Hanno behind on the N3 somewhere between Heidelberg & Villiers, I decided to go ahead, find the lodge, check in, feed Marhané and relax a bit. The GPS co-ordinates took me to a dirt road, through corn fields, passed beautiful birding spots and when it said “You have reach your destination”, I stopped, looked around me and all I saw was more fields with plenty cattle to welcome me. Lesson in life is to always search a bit further…. Just a few hundred meters ahead, over a little hill lay the most beautiful forest-like trees, green lawns, thatched roofs and the great welcoming entrance of LEKOA LODGE.

Elize was so excited to meet both little Marhané and myself. She checked us in and to my relief we had the first chalet closest to the reception and restaurant.

Our little chalet was so welcoming, tastefully decorated and well cared for. The cleanliness and attention to detail deserved a special mention. The chalet had a little lounge area with a kitchenette (stocked for all self catering needs) and a table seating 4. The bathroom is spacious and has a bath, shower and the most beautiful old world basin stand. When I entered the room I could feel the difference immediately, it was nice and warm and I thought its because the sun bakes it in the afternoons but later in the evening, when I walked barefoot on the carpet, I realised that it has under floor heating. This was such a blessing as the cold set in the moment the sun disappeared behind the hills.

I unpacked our bags, fed Marhané and settled in. Felt right at home when a beautiful black furry friend came to visit me, said hallo and then accompanied me to our car. I drove off again to fetch Hanno “somewhere” on the N3 between Heidelberg and Villiers.

On our way back from the second run of the day Elize called to ask if we are going to have dinner at the restaurant and what time we would like to be served. After freshening up and dressing warm we made our way to the restaurant. A very homely space and all I can say is the food was spectacular.   Luckily we abided by our rule of sharing because the portion sizes are very generous. The presentation was excellent and the service we got from the staff was superb.

We slept like babies…. (Truly cause we are sleeping according to little baby Marhané’s schedule). The bed was very comfortable, the linen crisp, the room warm and of course the silence of the “platteland” was very good for our souls

Elize came to say goodbye early morning as we headed out just as the sun rose, this made us feel like part of the Lekoa family.

Thank you Elize and your team at Lekoa Lodge for making part of our Barefoot Comrades Journey possible.

Lekoa Lodge 1

Lekoa Lodge 2

Lekoa Lodge dinner

The Journey: Day 6

What a day. The morning started gloomy, windy, cold, and the expected early. After getting everything ready to go, say our thank you and good byes to our awesome hosts at Lekoa Lodge, we set off to the start point of the day’s stage.

I felt amazingly good considering the distance I have covered since the 1st of May. So after the now customary photo at the start of the run I set off in the direction of Villiers, still a little behind schedule but ready to catch up even more during the morning.

Then I made one of my mistakes of the morning, I ran like any good citizen would, against the flow of traffic. I was not only challenged by a cold wind buffeting me from the front but also the substantial wind cushion coming with every passing truck. This combined with the blisters on my foot sufficiently changed my stride to have a very real effect on my Achilles tendon. After 9 kilometers my steady pace was reduced to a walk.

 Luckily Maretha was waiting another 8 kilometers down the road and after a little more than an hour I arrived at the first mark of the day. Here I had to make the hard decision to stop walking or running for the day to try and get a sore leg resolved. So we buzzed through to Frankfort, checked in to our stunning accommodation for the night, De Hoek Guesthouse, and went to look for a physio.

Frankfort delivered in style. We met Johan Taute at his practice and he quickly assessed the problem and went to work. His calm manner resulted in me agreeing for some dry needling, and that takes some doing. The result is that I need to rest two or three days, allow the blisters to heal up a bit and the Achilles to recover and then I can head out again; once again Johan, thank you for your care.

The sad part is that I am most likely going to miss a few kilometers on the road. This is unfortunate, but necessary if I am going to line up for Comrades on the 1st of June. So watch the space, I’ll let you know how it goes.

For now, remember, stay on the road and just keep on going.

Sometime the tool is desperately needed but not a pleasure to use. My feet after a few days of minimal shoes.

Sometime the tool is desperately needed but not a pleasure to use. My feet after a few days of minimal shoes.

 

Physio Johan helping to sort out a little case of inflamation of the Achilles tendon

Physio Johan helping to sort out a little case of inflamation of the Achilles tendon

The Journey: Day 5

A little moment of beauty next to the road.

A little moment of beauty next to the road.

Quickly becoming a best friend on the road. A gift amongst gifts. Thank you Karin Wessels.

Quickly becoming a best friend on the road. A gift amongst gifts. Thank you Karin Wessels.

Today was the start of a new week and the second running week. Day 4 were spent at home resting with the rest of the gang and enjoying Janno’s company. The morning started out a blur; the final cleaning up of the house, dropping Janno at school, packing, buying a few last supplies, dropping the house keys (how lucky can one get with a friend like Alexandra, we are so grateful), dropping the last dvd we tried to watch from the video store, before we finally headed out of Jozi and onto the open road at elevenses.

Yes you guessed it; for the third time in four I started my run around noon. With this in mind I think it is appropriate to thank Karin Wessels for organizing the very generous Annique sponsorship with a special mention of the sunscreen. And like Baz Luhrman said in 1998, trust me on the sunscreen. After three days of hours spend in the sun with very little protection other than Annique’s Rooibos sunscreen, I can say without a doubt in my mind; it works! So if you are faced by the possibility of going for an extended time in the sun, choose wisely choose Annique.

The day’s running was split into two. During the first part, with the sun beating down on me from above and the black top returning more of the same from below; I covered a little more than 17 kilometers; all of it barefoot with a different levels of comfort or discomfort. After a quick break and a late midday lunch I started the second part of the day to complete the day’s assignment and to make up some ground on the lost kilometers of the first and second day. The second run of the day took me to 27.5 kilometers for the day and 4 kilometers gained back on ground lost.

So tomorrow I will be running into and through Villiers, out of Mpumalanga and into the Orange Free State, where there are no oranges, nothing is for free and their football is in a terrible state (hat tip Leon Schuster). Maybe, as a Stormer supporter, I should keep very quiet about the latter.

The thought for the day and one that kept me busy for kilometers on an end; how often do we see the beauty next to the road we travel? The long kilometers, the slog, the hard work, and the lonely hours are easy to spot and so often fill our vision. But amidst all of that, if we are willing to slow down and take a look around, beauty is to be found.

So remember, slow down; stay on the road and just keep on going.

The Journey: Day 3

Today the road is where pure mathematics and theology met and it was beautiful. The alarm woke us at 06:00, Grant Hayward phoned me at 06:05 and by 06:07 he was heading in our direction to join the day’s run. And what a day it turned out to be.

Grant is a fellow time-trialer at Pirates even though he belongs to Kudus. He is not only that; he is also and ardent believer in minimal running and choose to spend thousands on his synthetic barefeet, Vibram Five-fingers. Courtesy of the support team we were delivered to the starting place somewhere between Jozi and Heidelberg. Together we tread many a kilometer in the direction and finally through Heidelberg on the way to the N3.

It was at the N3 that things went from great to excellent. Suddenly there was a road shoulder to run on and the surface as a baby’s, well almost. The moment we hit the highway I could say adios to my minimal shoes and revert to my preferred way of running, with naked feet.

The next 11 kilometers was spent musing on a number of things. Amongst others the possibilities that –infinity equaling infinity creates, the likelihood of a neutron hitting you in the back of the head, and the chances of our support vehicle meeting us under the next bridge that was up ahead. And you guessed it, about 50 meters before we reached the bridge Maretha, Janno and Marhané came roaring past us to stop under the aforementioned bridge. Maybe the true prophets amongst us are the mathematicians.

After a little rest and a welcome meal we continue heading towards Mpumalanga, finally crossing the last river in Gauteng, the Suikerbosrand River, and up the hill into the second province of the journey. We finally came to a stop at the De Hoek tollgate; certainly a day that will be fondly remembered.

Remember: stay on the road and just keep on going.

Grant Hayward leading along a worn out single track next to the black top somewhere close to Heidelberg

Grant Hayward leading along a worn out single track next to the black top somewhere close to Heidelberg

Saying good bye to my shoes for the next 11 kms. Not my first choice of running attire :)

Saying good bye to my shoes for the next 11 kms. Not my first choice of running attire 🙂