Trail Runner Kim van Kets about being a mom and a hero
Kim van Kets is a trail runner when she isn’t busy with all her other work as a speaker, writer, trainer, and mom. Kim is one of the Core Merino field testers, putting Core Merino wool garments to the test on her outdoor adventures. We had the chance of asking her about her adventures and share them with you here.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I grew up in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape, studied law at Stellenbosch University, was admitted as an attorney of the High Court of RSA, and spent many years in legal practice and the corporate world. I am currently self-employed as a legal consultant/ corporate trainer, freelance writer, published author, and inspirational business speaker (well before Covid-19, anyway. Now? Who knows?).
After doing all the usual ultras like Comrades and 2 Oceans 20 years ago, I discovered trail running and became addicted to the solitude and beauty of the sport. Since then I have taken part in numerous multi-day ultra-distance trail and adventure races all over the world and won some of them. My best-known expedition has been “Tri the Beloved Country” which involved a self-powered 6772 km circumnavigation of South Africa on foot, bike, and kayak in 148 days.
Despite opportunities to have married a sensible person I am (usually) happily married to Adventurer, Peter van Kets (2x Atlantic Rower and one of the few South Africans to have trekked to the South Pole). I am also mother to Hannah and a Staffy dog-child, Basil.
So far, what have been your most memorable moments as an adventurer?
Jeepers! That’s hard! Racing Expedition Africa together with Peter in Namaqualand and Rodrigues, running the Munga, running 600 km between Grahamstown and Knysna with mates on the Pilgrimage Run, being together with Pete and Hannah the whole way round RSA on Tri the Beloved Country, meeting Pete in Antigua at the end of his ocean crossings…
What keeps your soul refreshed? Do you have any hobbies outside of sport that you latch onto when you have downtime?
I love words and I love to write, running and writing are equally important to me. You can read some of my writing here: http://kimvankets.com/thoughts/ Increasingly sport has become a vehicle for accessing wild and remote places – its more about where you end up than about the sport.
What’s ahead for you? Do you have any exciting projects or events on the horizon?
We have loads of short term adventures planned and many big ones dreamed about…. Pete should have been doing Expedition Africa in Lesotho now, I was hoping to do the 2nd half of the Pilgrimage Run from Knysna to Cape Town in August.
Kim, as you mention in your book, Tri the Beloved Country, as the wife of an adventurer and a mother you are very good with sacrifice and have even had your own doubts about realising your own aspirations because of this, what advice do you have in overcoming this struggle to still carry on and achieve your dreams?
I think I realised that I simply had to demonstrate to my daughter (I mean show her, not just tell her) at a time when she was at her most impressionable, that setting big goals and achieving them is not the exclusive domain of men and fathers. I needed her to grasp at the deepest level that moms can be heroes, too. And that nothing should stop her from doing what she feels compelled to do. Not even motherhood (although it may require putting them on hold for a while).
What’s the most challenging part of preparing for each adventure?
Juggling. Work, home, family responsibility, traveling, and training. And getting the best house/dog sitter in the world to be available to look after Basil!
You have been on incredible adventures which involved a lot of uncomfortable parts, how have you learned to cope with being uncomfortable while still triumphing to reach your goals?
I think I have a natural ability to endure monotony and discomfort and manage my expectations, maybe it comes from my German peasant ancestors who worked 18 hour days in the fields? I think practice really helps, too. But ultimately I think it comes down to managing expectations, expecting things to be incredibly hard, and being pleasantly surprised if they are slightly less so. And having a sense of humour. Being able to laugh when everything totally sucks.
Give us a peek into your bucket list – what are a few places you want to visit or personal goals you’re striving for?
My big dream is to run the length of Africa – from Egypt to East London. It would take a year so maybe when Hannah has finished school.