Aaaah… The day it rained. This really was not a glorious moment for any of the participants, unless your aim was to go within and find that truly resilient part of yourself you had never tapped into before.
(For those of you wondering why we have sporting event coverage in the middle of gorgeous interiors and film industry news, we committed to a number of sporting events in February 2011 in order to raise money for charity. See the full story for more information, this was the final of a four-part series of events we took part in since December last year.)
Having run the Two Oceans Half once before, I was certainly expecting to hurt a little towards the end. Especially after the long downhill from the top of Southern Cross Drive practically into UCT. The all-seeing, all-knowing weather gurus predicted rain all week, so mentally we were prepared that it might not be that much fun. However race day arrived and the morning was positively balmy at 4:30 a.m. A year prior my teeth had been chattering and my toes numb a good 10km into the run, but this time around the weather was just perfect. They had also added in a bonus hill (changing the route slightly to head along the M3 and peal off at Kendal Road off-ramp) but after running the hills in two training sessions already I was feeling fairly confident.
I was waiting for my friend Jenn on an agreed corner – which was a chaotic and naive idea by the way. Had she been on time I am pretty certain I may have missed her anyway. At about four minutes before the start I gave up and ran into the start pens (just as well as she was stuck in some traffic and missed the start gun by a good five minutes, having to chase up the back of the pack for 8 or 9 km). The gun went off and, being in Group D, we did the 2 minute shuffle to cross the start-line. Not quite the romantic idea of gunning it from the front of the pack. I was really happy to see a few people I knew along the route (kudos to supporters standing on the sidelines at 6 a.m.) most especially on the uphills. The supporters, marshals and volunteers were incredible. Especially the 5K marker marshal! What a great guy. He did not stop cheering and was encouraging and super enthusiastic. I crested the first hill and the pack split up a little as everyone had expected and we hit the first quite extended downhill. Running on the motorway in the dark was incredible. It required serious concentration – you know how those Constantia residents are opposed to streetlights – and just a touch of faith. It was however very well organised with spotlights and aid stations all along the route.
The sun started to rise by the time I was into Constantia (waved at parents!) and I was on track for a 1:52 finish until about 1km up Southern Cross Drive. I lost some time on that uphill slog which goes on for close to 3km but kept thinking I could make it up on the downhills (insert skeptical chuckle here). I crested Southern Cross, feeling stable, went past the least enthusiastic Castle Lite cheerleaders the world has ever known and on towards Kirstenbosch where a very light drizzle quickly became a gusty downpour. And at this stage I started squelching. You know. In my shoes. It would not have been possible to become any more waterlogged had I fallen into a swimming pool. This was about the time I, myself, ‘went within’ and literally put one foot in front of the other. I wouldn’t change having taken part for anything, but will bang on a little just to illustrate the experience… One had to literally shield one’s eyes from driving rain in order to see where one was going.
Nothing could have made me happier than the extra squelching the grass at UCT’s Upper Campus made as I neared the finish line with a time of 1h55. Coca-Cola never tasted as good and breakfast had never been so well-deserved (towel and dry clothing from saintly, patient boyfriend so gratefully received). Huge congratulations and admiration for those who finished the ultra (56km) in those conditions.
And yes. For sure I would do it again.