By Salwah Marlie
(an experienced hiker who has been bitten by the running bug)
It’s by no means crazy to get up at the crack of dawn … it’s that act of not falling back into bed that is stir crazy. At about 5am on Saturday 4 December 2010 Fatimah Jacobs and I headed off into the sunrise (more-or-less).
Our destination: Lourens-sumthin-or-other-estate.
Location: somewhere far.
Our mission: 21.1km in (wait for it…wait for it … please don’t laugh) 2:29:58.
Fatimah kindly read up about the race online, she checked the profile, she knew how to get there. She ensured we got there in time. All I had to do was put on RUNNING shoes to go for a RUN.
At 6.30am I hadn’t had my coffee, I clearly wasn’t awake and it was therefore completely reasonable for me to have been oblivious to the fact that we were on gravel and heading uphill on a mountain in order to start a run. A few steps after the starting gun sounded it became clear…it was NOT a run. It was a HIKE! It had to be. The gradient, the gravel, the mud, the fynbos and views were not for anyone in running shoes. Somewhere before the 2km mark (yes, that early!) one leg wanted to hike and the other knew it was there for a run. Can you imagine 19km of that? What made matters worse is that I thought I was fitter than usual, I felt confident that I’d run stronger because I recently started doing LSDs again and in my dreams I did lots of hill training and still in my dreams even ran halfway to and from work on alternate days. Now I can vouch for it fellow runners … training in your dreams doesn’t help.
I’m convinced that equally as important as the right running shoes is the right running buddy. I have one of those who constantly reminded me that I can do this. Thanks again Fati for pulling me through.
It took 90 minutes to get to the 9km mark, the route was mostly along a gravel jeep track – some parts it was dry, at other parts muddy. I kept thinking that I’d make up time on the tar, which I didn’t see until AFTER the race ended.
Enough of the complaints, what made this race worth doing was the setting, the view, the crisp early morning mountain air. An undulating path took us through a nice mix of fruit trees and fynbos and along some dams and crystal clear streams. It was overcast and the sun would peep through the clouds now and then and highlight parts of the mountain or bits of the patchwork farmlands in the distance below. The nicest thing about running up for soooo long is that we had to come down and it felt good to maintain a steady pace even though I was sure we were running on empty. Fatimah continued her patient encouragement until the end was in sight. I had visions of me collapsing on the finish line. But with just over 100m to go we caught up with Shafiek who suggested we race each other to the end. I’m still not sure where the energy came from, but his words were no sooner out and my legs shifted into a faster gear. Needless to say, he beat me, but from that I was shocked to learn that I can still go on for longer or faster than I thought possible. I heard it being said that people have the ability to continue long after they feel the need to stop….I kind of didn’t realise that it is true for me too. So now I’m keen on trying the Wednesday night speed training.
A finishing time of 2h54 is far from the 2h30 I was dreaming of. I was beating myself up for running so poorly, but after crossing the finishing line and getting cheers and kind words from fellow Itheko members I was soon in better spirits. Thanks guys - I joined the right club. You guys rock. This is definitely one race worth doing over and over again.