6 days

shoes6 days.

In 6 days these shoes will take me on a journey that I will probably never forget. A journey I can’t yet imagine fully without waves of panic and a little bit of nausea.

The shoes are in honour of my mum who fought Bowel Cancer (or Colon Cancer, dependsphoto 1 which country you live in as to what you call it) for over six years with a ferocity that would surely have carried her through many a marathon.  I can’t believe it was only 11 months ago she was standing in my living room, wearing the hot pink shoes she bought on arrival in Atlanta, to do another walk around our neighbourhood, even after discontinuing all treatment and having two stints in hospital during her three month stay with us.

She never gave up. I hope that I don’t give up on Sunday.

I am running / plodding for the Jodi Lee Foundation. The gorgeous Jodi was a fabulous friend of mine. Jodi was diagnosed with Bowel Cancer at 39 and passed away two years later, after a tremendous battle. Although friends from ‘home’ our families both lived parts of our lives as expats, happily landing us in Asia at the same time. They visited Hong Kong and we visited Vietnam, leaving great memories of fun times – but not the best group photos. Note to everyone, even though you may hate photos of yourself, have photos taken with your friends often, they are not the most important memory but they are pretty good to have.

The Lee / Moffitt trip - Hoi An 2006

The Lee / Moffitt trip to Hoi An 2006

After she passed away, her husband Nick founded the Jodi Lee Foundation. The foundation promotes awareness of Bowel Cancer (particularly in Australia where 1 in 12 will develop Bowel Cancer in their lifetime), education about the importance of screening and the tests available and aims to improve the uptake of regular and appropriate screening by those at risk.

With Sarah in South Africa, 2011

With Sarah in South Africa, 2011

I am running for Sarah, a friend from Hong Kong. Our sons were best friends in pre-school and beyond. Luckily her husband is South African with family in Durban, so we were treated to more than one visit during our time there.

This photo was taken a couple of months before Sarah ran the GreenPower in Hong Kong, a grueling 25km trail race, she set a cracking pace and recorded a great time. The race was one month before she was diagnosed with Bowel Cancer in Stage III.  What followed, was a tough and unimaginable treatment process that lasted almost a year. As with Mum (most of the time) and Jodi, I followed from afar – only able to offer support by electronic and telephonic means. The tears I cried on March 2nd this year when I received the email saying her tests had come back showing the all clear were real, heartfelt and happy.

This past week I cried again, our neighbour’s 34 year old brother died of Colon Cancer. I had never met him, but his family have been our ‘go to’ people this move. They are wonderful and generous and have made our landing here softer. This weekend I will also remember Corey.

Mum, Jodi, Sarah and Corey never gave up. I’m going to try very hard to remember that for 42.2 kilometres on Sunday.


As the big day approaches I am loving all the messages of support I am getting from places near and far. I appreciate that there will be people thinking of me from so many countries around the world, some of which will have daytime at the same time we do!

I may not get to 42 sponsors by Sunday but I am going to do my best. I will be chasing Sponsors to be Committed to Testing for the rest of the year, and a very long time yet. I believe that awareness of possible symptoms and testing when appropriate are so important.

How to sponsor me for your very own kilometre – click here and don’t forget to let me know which kilometre you want. Still so many to choose from and don’t say I don’t give value for money, your kilometre will last at least 7 minutes!


Numbers marked in red are taken, perhaps your lucky number is still available?! Snap it up now before those that haven’t chosen yet pick it.

How to be a sponsor committed to testing – send an email to randomthoughtsnikki@gmail.com to let me know and get along to your local GP or pharmacy, whatever way is accepted in your country of residence and do yourself a favour and get tested. I won’t be asking for medical results or certificates ;)



Who’s coming?

I can’t be doing this kind of thing by myself. I may not make it if I don’t have people to moan to about how hard it is, how my feet hurt, how much I smell, how I lost a sock and now no longer have perfect pairs.
Let alone ask the magic question ‘Are we there yet?’.

When we signed up- the person that will be known from this point as the Other Aussie Chick (OAC), the gorgeous Genevieve and I were offered two options – go it alone with our own set of porters in the manner of honeymooners, or join a group already climbing the same week we wanted to go. Of course we chose option two – we do enjoy each other’s company immensely and do love spending time together but lets face it, more people mean more conversation topics, along the lines of ‘they seem quite weird, nice, superfit, crazy, perfect climbing companions, freaks, why did we decide to climb with them again…..’
You never know they may even have something to contribute to the conversation.

In a manoeuvre typical of me (if you knew me in real life you would just assume) the first thing I did was check out the name of the other person / group organiser given to me by our climb operator on Facebook and Google. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t have – you know you would. By as much as I could see (she does have some security savvy, not an open fb profile) she seems like a normal person, no horns, only one head, although I couldn’t tell if she had any extra legs (which could make keeping up with her a bit tricky) – that is if the photo posted on her profile is actually really her. We will only find out in September when we meet to start the big walk –
For now we will have to forget about her and her party of five and hope for the best.

So let me expand on my other companions, OAC and Susan the Leggy Dutch Lady (LDL) as they will be the ones bearing the brunt of my moaning and groaning and fretting for my iphone signal, or at least they will be after their own ipod batteries run out.

The OAC is one of my very bestest friends. I have known her since the second year we moved to Hong Kong and we met just as she was moving to Shanghai (insert sad face here). However as luck would have it for me – Shanghai wasn’t a perfect fit and soon she was back, in the same apartment complex and the same hockey team as me. She was also in Team SNAK-en (long story will try for one sentence – Sarah, Nikki, Amanda & Kerry – only Kerry got pregnant so she couldn’t come that year so Gen stepped in and allowed us to call her Ken for a very short period of time) as I did my first team GreenPower 50km event.

Organising to climb with OAC is testament to how far I will go to spend time with other Australians on this continent. I could digress here and tell you about the time I ran breathless across a rugby pitch to speak to someone in a Waratah’s jersey- but it turned out while he was Australian, he was only visiting – or that’s what he told the crazy Aussie chick who dragged at him from behind and asked if he lived locally. Australians are few and far between here in Durban – they tend to not live in this part of South Africa, as I am told many many times – South Africans move to Australia not the other way around. Anyway its reassuring to be going to do the climb with one of my own tribe and a fab friend in the bargain. My only concern is her super fitness. Gen is a girl who can run a marathon before breakfast, play a game of hockey after lunch and then go out for a few drinks, home by 2am up by 7am to ferry various small ones to mini-rugby, hockey whatever. I only hope she can slow down long enough to make it. Apparently the super fit struggle to slow their pace to those of us with ‘medium’ fitness, bizarre as it sounds. However I don’t believe I have ever met someone so dedicated to achieving goals she sets herself, so if I need to slow her down I will just lasso her from behind and she can use her fitness and super strength to pull me to the top.
She can have a back op when she gets home to sort that out.

Joining us more recently as a climber is Susan, the LDL – although sadly (for me) I recently worked out we are the same height its just that our different- umm builds – that make her look much more ‘leggy’ than I do or ever will. Susan is part of the secret Dutch society – in that there are actually multiple Dutch people who live in Durban and they are very supportive of their own tribe, but not at all in an exclusionary way to those of us who are also expats but not from Holland. So really what I am hoping to get out of this whole exercise is an entree as an honorary Dutch person, which includes access to the secret Dutch phone book so I can have my own tribe here too. It may take a little longer to work on the tribal language though – but who knows, once upon a time I also spoke German – Dutch may not be beyond the realms of possibility.

The LDL also is fairly fit, I would place her in the ‘above average’ fitness category. I say this because when we were discussing the lack of hiking and altitude in our immediate area we talked about the stair machine at the gym and at what setting we use for our sessions. Susan uses setting 12 – run off now, I dare you to do more than 3 minutes on 12 without leaning all over the top of the machine or completely passing out. Respect for level 12. In an effort to rise to those dizzying heights I did two minutes of level 12 in my last stair session – but obviously not consecutively. Susan also has other impressive sporting endeavours – like the most amazing ‘eagle’ I have ever missed (I’d say seen but I didn’t see it) from the fairway of the 10th hole on our local golf course. We looked for that ball for ten minutes after our fairway shots until someone found it – in the hole! Other qualifying characteristics for the climb include ability to drink sufficient amounts of wine and dancing on bars.
Don’t you love her too? Aren’t you glad she’s coming? I am.

52 sleeps to go ladies – start your engines – or at least do a grease and oil change now in preparation for our big adventure!

We’re really going to do it

‘Anyone of moderate fitness can climb Mt Kilimanjaro….’ so say many of the brochures and web pages you can read about strolling up Africa’s highest peak.
Ha ha ha ha ha – I hope they’re right. I’m fitter than I look you know (in my mind).

‘Kili is the tallest mountain in the world that you can simply walk up! None of the routes require mountaineering skills, specialized equipment, or even previous climbing experience.’
So they say, but surely the fact I will be sleeping in a tent and sleeping bag on the actual ground qualifies as both specialised equipment and mountaineering skills?

‘There’s practically a road – I could probably drive up it’ says my husband whose name I don’t see on any of the travel documentation surrounding the upcoming trip.

‘The Kilimanjaro climb is just a nature trail hike. Anybody of moderate fitness can do it and I recommend it. The scenery is stunning..’ US magazine attributes to Jessica Biel in her little trip last year.

A snippet of my life as wife & mother on ‘extended world tour’ – current location of residence, Durban – South Africa.
Scene – School car park, second hand clothing sale, recently
Super school organiser Mother 1 – ‘Nikki, I hope you are going to play in the golf day in September’ (best to disregard any possible golfing skills – I don’t have any, obviously just making conversation)
Nikki ‘Actually, I’m going to be climbing Kili that week’ (said for the first time out loud – just trying it on, notice the shortening of the term, trying to sound like I know what I am doing)
Super school organiser Mother 1 and Super school organiser Mother 2 turn to face each other and both laugh
Super school organiser Mother 2 – ‘Have you just turned 40?’
I obviously refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I’m not telling – but its plainly a popular mid-life crisis point of reference for the folks round these parts.

A friend and I had been floating the idea amongst ourselves since I had made the move to Africa nearly two years ago – originally I was planning last year but that just didn’t happen so ‘next year’ I said.  Over Christmas at home in Australia I was telling everyone ‘I’m going to climb Kilimanjaro next year, apparently September is a good time to do it’ and happened at the time to be nearly a year away, sufficiently far that I didn’t have to think that seriously about it. What you find is the more people you tell, the more you say it out loud, the more established a story it gets and the more you have to end up actually doing it.

Deposits are paid and in just a little over 60 sleeps it will all happen – we (my fellow climbers – more on them later) will arrive in Tanzania ready for a big adventure and I am really getting quite scared.

Thursday September 8th is the day, a week later I will know if I have what it takes to summit – it all sounds so simple.