I was on a Cape Town road trip when my car was broken into. All my trail-running and mountain bike gear, my racing trophies, as well as a Nikon camera with footage intended for the next exhibition - gone. On the first day I cried, on the second gave away the rest of my belongings to my maid and gardener, said goodbye to my husband, and flew across the Atlantic with a 13 lbs backpack for my four years' journey starting at the Appalachian Trail, where immediately I was given the trail name Brave from fellow hikers, once they learned my story. I didn't get back home.
It's done even though I hate backpacking and camping. The limits were smashed after participating in Kalahari Desert Ultra-marathon, where runners slept under one big gazebo.
Keeping in mind the only two things - starting and finishing points, facing and handling all that happens on your way - every day is just WOW.
My backpack was the lightest one on the Appalachian Trail. Getting frustrated, though, when people thought I was just a day-hiker, not a through-, and greeted hikers with big backpacks, missing me.
Getting local friends, following their lifestyle, borrowing their clothes for participating in local and family events.- the way of learning. And gaming.
In South Africa, a few months after my foot operation, I tried running and in less than two months improved my 10 km time from 75 minutes to 44. Since then always took category podiums.
Before going wild, I traveled "fly & drive" (renting car at the airport and drive to the hotel) in many countries, mostly in Europe.
Before I left Russia, leading Russian Publishing House AST collected my newspaper road trip columns in three books, which quickly sold out.
When I worked as a journalist for the major Russian media, one of my assignmnents was testing the latest models of cars, which I turned into road trips between local museums totally out of mainstream. Doing that became a mainstream after.
Apr 5 - Aug 15, 2014
Luxury-resorts-foreigner yet a prominent trail runner, I found myself on Appalachian Range with no clue what hiking was about in general and the Appalachian in particular, 2180 miles from Georgia to Maine. I spent an hour on the phone with an AT manager named Laurie, and two days in a hotel reading about bears and snakes. I was crying from fear at the last six miles of the dirty desert road to Springer Mountain, thinking I would be the only human for 100 miles and would turn into Mowgli. Fellow hikers didn't see my tears, told I was brave with all my stories and gave me the trail name Brave. People always say that I am brave and I'm always about to ask "how you know my trail name?!”
May 21 - Sep 11, 2015
No limits after 2000 miles hike. I flew from Johannesburg to Chicago with her Appalachian 13-lb backpack, found the first Walmart on my way, bought the bike , climbed on, and took off for Los Angeles, all the way on historic Route 66, 2448 miles. In 2015 I was the only biker on Route 66, as no one saw a biker on this route before. It was a blast! I was totally blown out by the huge wave of people, their interest, their friendliness and hospitality. This bike ride had nothing to do with mileage per day and overall speed.
May 23 - Aug 13, 2016
From London to the very north of Scotland - Orkney Islands - and back, Caledonia Way and Grand Canal. Nights at pubs - safety first! - sitting there till the midnight, when they got empty and the owner let me pitch my tent on the backyard. Nights in big houses when the tray with English tea was waiting behind the door of my bedroom. Scottish weather was at its best -- wind, rain, and chill. Thanks to uphills, they helped to warm up. Madly beautiful though.
Apr 21 - Jul 4, 2017
3000 miles on Atlantic coast of the United States, from Calais, Maine, to Key West, Florida. All about meeting people and experiencing their great hospitality: being invited for lunch, for dinner, and for staying overnight in spare bedrooms. It wouldn't be possible to ride through such well-established and highly populated areas without support from its habitants.
Never ran before, I was captured by the running which was the whole South Africa lifestyle. To not waste time, I asked the top coach of the country how to run, and he ... invited me to his group! After one month I was on the podium for the category and did not leave it for the next year, 2012, of non-stop racing. My 10k time was dropped from 1:15 to 0:44 just in two months of training.
My life was far from sports and the outdoors. I was a talented journalist, a big city girl, a 5-star resort customer. It was a complicated marriage, a much more complicated divorce, about-to-marry my divorce attorney, raising two kids on my own, a nightlife with parties and no boundaries between the journalist job and life itself, and my biggest love.
By that time the children had already grown up, so I just bought a ticket and flew … to the Kalahari Desert, 2008. Remember the movie? Gods Must be Crazy-2? A must watch. I always wondered if one day a surgeon could fix my foot so I could run like the bushmen in the movie, but I struggled to walk a single mile. That’s how badly my foot was damaged. In the desert I met my future husband, a former radio DJ. Soon a surgeon fixed my foot, I started faculty teaching at the University of South Africa, won an international photo contest with following up personal exhibition Iron Africa and in the meantime trained for speed running. Soon I got a silver medal for 10 k in the US at the 2011 World Masters Athletic Championship.
Day by day life was getting boring, together with a former DJ. Every day the same - a yacht club with beer, a golf club with beer, and a restaurant. With beer. So “One day, 2014, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run”. For this “little run” I bought an ultralight tent and sleeping bag, even though I hated camping, and flew across the Atlantic to hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. “And I figured, since I run this far, maybe…” and I cycled the Route 66 from Chicago to LA and the East Coast from Maine to Florida.
After that I finally yielded (I didn’t like Tom Hanks) to the insistence of my children and watched Forrest Gump. And I figured, the couple of this movie quotes above saved a lot of writing. The rest will be on my book Four Years On Foot. Hopefully, soon. I recently stopped at the Midcoast of Maine. “For no particular reason.” Or…?
"We shall all live vicariously through her!. She is an example and inspiration to many! Go girl!"
"She's the "real deal"! My all time favorite world traveler and Russian Photojournalist"
"Fantastic! I had the wonderful pleasure of hosting Lena in southern Maine. Go Lena!!"
"Lena Faber is an extraordinary lady!! I'm proud to have met her in her ventures in the U.S."
"She has a wonderful personality!"
"This is the kind of spirit that makes the world connect and go round."
Inspired by the movie Gods Must Be Crazy, had my kids already grown, back on 2008, I flew to the Kalahari Desert to participate in a multi-days ultra-marathon. Being no one bit a runner, I just used the opportunity to go wild in the desert. Never in my dreams did I think that very soon I would become a top South African runner, a silver winner, at the World Masters Athletic Championship 2011, in California.
South Africa was above all expectations, the most beautiful country in the world. Well, probably a bit after Brazil. The country, where the annual 93 km Comrads Marathon makes the last weekend of May look like a New Year holiday, when, after a short relaxation, following by the race, everyone starts preparation for the next one.
If someone is not running, then he is sailing. Sailing is a big deal in South Africa, and I tried my best to deal at least with spinaker, but I would rather jump i nto the water and swim to Madagascar. For me, yacht clubs became the most boring places in the world.
I thought I would stop after a week or two because of my chronic foot problem. But I was greeted as a thru-hiker by fellow hikers and trail angels, they were so amazed and inspired and already gave me a trail name Brave. So I made it all the way to Mt. Katahdin - even it was not my plan! While all others battled with legs, knees, etc, my foot miraculously recovered.
Arizona, the most challanging part of Route 66. Sitgreaves Pass, then Mogave Desert. A night berfore I was catched by a horrifying thunderstorm, a lightning bowl crossed the road just infront of me, and I jumped into the porch of a lonly house in the desert. Here, on the picture.
The biggest challange - to not end up at the big city at night. But sometimes the night rides through them are so rewarding!
My newspaper column became a book, published in 15,000 hard copies by the leading Russian Rublishing House AST. It was one of the best travel columns of 00s in Russian Media.
"She had a gazoline in her blood and no speed limits. As a single mother of two, she couldn't become a proper car racer, which was real pity." That what a Russian race guru, a professor of Academy of Driving Art Ernest Tzygankov, wrote in foreword to her book.
"She is always the winner, whatever happens to her. no matter which stories this enterprising, cheerful and abservant young lady has got into. She has an amazing sence of humor. she makes a literature of big and small events of her own life. Exellent felling of her own language and very good test helps her, not even mentioning her passion and temperament she is generously given by nature."
"Lena is not ordinary reporter, indeed she is a reporter in a special way.
In almost every text she appears not only as an author but as a character as well.
She is not only writing about dancing flamenco but also dances it; not only advising a certain route but also follows it, often with adventures.
One of my newspaper duties was testing and reviewing new models of cars. Being one, who always has to make any assignment my own, I turned the ordinary reviews into a once-in-a-lifetime road trip series from Moscow to tiny local museums and hidden artifacts. It was real anti-glam during the binge-glam era in Moscow. A major publishing company printed my newspaper travelogue series as a book, which was sold quickly. And yes, I preferred to sleep in the car rather then in a hotel. Because I can't stay airconditioning at all.
I got used to write and for cheese, vine, wiskey, tea, hotel chains, and real estate companies.
Despirate single mother of two teens worked as a financial director of international company, then, after the crisis of the later 90s, as a journalist on a day time and an incognito dancer in night clubs, on a night time to provide her keeds with the basic, on her opinion, nesecceties: tickets to the opera and theaters, computers, hockey and ballet classes, and the best teaches. The most unbelievable - dancing with gypsies on the backstage of International Gypsy Festival in Poland, replacing getting sick real gypsy.
Genetically a good skier (my father was the good one), I tried skate style first time just before moving to South Africa, 2009. After a couple of miles "skating" along nice narrow track I was exhausted and stopped. Suddenly I heard barking - a dog-sledge race had started and they were getting closer! No place to escape, rather cling to the pain tree and wait for three hours when the race would be over. So I "skate" another 8 miles hurrying up before dogs catch and crushed me with their sledges. Next weekend I participated in 24-hour ski race, because these dogs made me quite familiar with fast "skating" style.
I was a sharpshooter and had many awards on my teens even I couldn't aproximately estimate by eye the distance to the target. Then I became so squeamish with any kind of weapons and took this gun only for picture (2004).
I’ve got it from the pioneer camp in the USSR, where I spend (waste?) my whole childhood with ignoring everything but playing ping-pong. “All I did was play ping-pong” (the same movie, mmm). Nobody can handle my lowest spinning spike, if ... I don't miss the table. In Norway in 2015 I simply did not miss, that's it. Also I’d got the only bat left, there was no sponge on it, just wood and rubber. So my competitors got the hardest spikes, and I’ve got a prize - this bear. I did not have a place to leave him and took to the airplan, where the crew jokingly offered him (hah, me!) extra strawberry musses. So I gave him the simple name Bear, and then attached this bear Bear to my bike. But why they also put this stupid ping-pong to the Forrest Gump movie?!
I supposed to be in England on 2018 and further, but things happen. With no idea how to deal with that and just to figure it out on my way, I started my next American journey, this time a road trip, but my car was accidentally toad away from Mc'Donalds during my first stop on the Midcoast of Maine. A friend offered me to stay in her big house, and further chain of amazing events pushed me in the middle of something I don't know what yet. First of all I decided to get back to the trail running.
Connected with Midcoast trails maintenence,cleaning up the woods, etc.
Once, in South Africa, I eventually participated in Dolphin Mile ocean swim race. Now I'm going not just participate, but to be on a podium of RunSwim race.So I joined YMCA (gym network) for training in swimming pool.
Before starting teaching at the University of South Africa on 2010, I followed my husband on his business trips to South African mines, and took pictures of dusty workshops, rusty chains, oily tools, and all kinds of industrial junk. These photos won the Alliance de France international photo contest, and they organized my photo exhibition in Pretoria.
2016-2017. From Atacama desert in Chile through Solar-de-Uyuni in Bolivia to Machu Picchu in Peru and all the way by the Amazon River to Brazil changing local ferries with hammocks on the deck, always in good company. Shamans and ayahuasca, forro and maracatu, piranha and anaconda, jungle and beaches, carnival in Rio-de-Janeiro and fight with a puma outside of it.
In Moscow In South AfricaIn Travels
Moskovskij Komsomoletz Drive TV Aeroflot Inflight Magazine
© Copyright 2018 Lena faber - All Rights Reserved