I agreed to 'walk' Sani Pass in aid of the WORLD CHEFS TOUR AGAINST HUNGER without really understanding what I was getting myself into. Then rumours started flying that it was not the 4km that I had anticipated but actually 40 kms… no 25 kms. What was I in for? It was, in fact, 8km in the end, I think... still not too sure about that.
One day at work I suggested to Paula Mackenzie that she should join me in tackling this challenge. She was game and so, after I had put plans in place for the kitchen team, off we went to the Himeville Arms on the Friday before the 'walk' - and the adventure began.
After a case of "hurry up and wait" we were all gathered at the foot of the pass... and ready to go.
Paula took off and was soon a distant figure. I thought we were just doing a casual 'walk' but clearly the challenge was on! This inspired me to "put a little foot". I kept my pace and never stopped longer than five seconds - I just motored on. I never thought I would get so far ahead and when I next looked I was all alone - obviously with a few male chefs way ahead of me.
(Paula and I never discussed whether we would walk together or not, so when I got ahead I only realised that I had the water in my backpack. I wondered how I would get water to her and after much thought, I was confident that she would make a plan, especially as the medic bikers were handing out Powerade. I still feel terrible especially as Paula never said anything and possibly it was difficult for her to organise liquid refreshment. Thanks to the SACA team for saving the day. There are times when I just don't think... only sometimes, though!)
I did the majority of the 'hike' by myself. It was the most difficult thing I have had to get my mind around in a long time. This was truly no easy task especially as I haven't done sport/proper exercise since my school days. The foodie industry has really taken control of me. I loved every second and it was truly mind over matter. At times I thought my heart was going to explode as it was pumping so fast, but that didn't stop me... Wow, I am competitive - I had forgotten! At times I thought the torture could be over quickly by me jumping onto the bakkie but there was no way in hell I was going to take this option because I was putting myself through this pain for something far greater than myself. "WORLD CHEFS TOUR AGAINST HUNGER" kept me going!
A steady, continuous upward gradient was what this hike involved. We often zoomed up Sani Pass as kids and I remember it being steep... but never this sheer. My last memory of Sani Pass was my sister, Sheldeen, and I holding hands at the top of the pass with my mother running after us. I remember the wind being so strong that we little girls were literally being blown away.
I made a point of not focussing on the 'walk' but rather on the nature, taking lots of photos and being aware of the reasons I was doing this. My mind was in overdrive with thoughts. I think I solved 'world hunger' with all the thinking I did. The time alone was soulful - something I haven't done in a while.
Climbing to the top of Sani Pass in 2 hours 15 minutes, if my informers were correct, was fantastic! A huge relief - and a personal achievement. The applause and cheers from the rest of the chefs when I arrived made it all worth my while. Only then did I realise that I had placed fourth overall and was the first female home.
Over the afternoon I made great connections with the JHB SACA-chef committee and also cemented the KZN committee friendships. My heart had that warm-fuzzy feeling; and everyone was determined to finish. I think the last ladies came in six hours later. The success of the initiative was unbelievable with everyone commitment to "WORLD CHEFS TOUR AGAINST HUNGER". We can all make a difference!
I was sad to have to leave that afternoon while the others stayed on to cook for 500 of the locals but I had to get back to Hartford House to prepare for a very busy Sunday... trying to split myself into many pieces as per usual! I believe this all went down perfectly and the locals were hugely appreciative.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the organisers, sponsors and all involved for making this such a memorable event.
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