We left Pretoria Friday morning, all excited and amped up for the race weekend ahead. This was going to be my fourth Rudamans Kaapsehoop Marathon.
A few given facts. I knew this was not going to be an easy run. Reason number one – This was going to be my third full marathon in less than one month and two weeks. Reason number two – The weather was not going to be favourable at all, expected 36°c and humid. Reason number three – It is a new venue ( start ) and new venues always present teething problems. Reason number four – The running field on the 42.2 promised to be the biggest in the history of the race, 3000 plus runners.
Well we arrived at registration at Mbombela Stadium just after 12:00 on Friday and the race pack pick up went smoothly with absolute no need for queuing. Awesome. We met here with Cornelia and Clive also so I could finally give her her Run for Bibles badge.
Next stop was Ilanga Mall for a quick lunch and pick up some grocery items for the weekend.
We arrived at Protea Hotel Nelspruit later that afternoon and received a real VIP welcome back. This has been our Lowveld home away from home for the past three years and here we were, back for year number four. Mr Garrick Grabe and his team really went out of their way to give us the warmest possible “Welcome back”. Like always the room was spacious, really comfortable and ideal for a weekend breakaway. We were off to bed early because we had to be up very early Saturday morning.
Race day I think can be described in short as a “Successful Disaster” If it does not make sense, then read on.
Woke up Saturday morning with a severe stomach flu bug thingemagic. I felt awful. Well we left the hotel just after three, picked up Paul from the Town Lodge and then arrived at Mbombela Stadium shortly after 03.30. We caught the next bus that left for Kaapsehoop to take us to the start. We arrived at the start around 04:40. This is where things started to go horribly wrong. The nausea and severe diarrhoea ( sorry for the details ) had me in and out of the bushes three times before the race started. At this stage I knew that this was going to become a long long day, and I was right.
The new venue, although it is a really pretty location and added a special ambiance to the start of the race, also had its challenges. One of the busses completely missed the start and went to turn around at Ngodwana. Not good. Secondly, when the race started, we had to do a short section of the race on gravel road and this caused a lot of thick dust for the runners that followed the start pack, and the further you were to the back, the worse it was. This was not a clever move. I fail to understand why the organisers did not spray or sprinkled the road with water just to try and limit the amount of dust. Lots of people complained about this and I think this is about the only negative I have for this new venue. Anyway, the rest of the route was the same as before.
Bu the time I reached the 9km mark I already had to pull off three more times because Mother Nature was calling me, loud and clear. By this time I was already running on empty. To add insult to injury I forgot my drink mix in the car, so I knew I had to now start hydrating otherwise this race was going to be over shortly after it started. I was so annoyed with the whole scenario, but I knew this was race day and I had to deal with it.
At around 14km I had to make a decision – I realised that the nausea and severe diarrhoea was not going to stop, so I had to rethink the whole day and this is when I decided to change from plan A to plan B. Plan A was to run my race and see if I can get close to 04:15’ish and plan B was, well to let go of plan A. This is when I decided to carry on and continue with the race, but to slow down and to switch to my favourite gear, “survival gear”; this is when I change the focus from me to others and try and help others get to the end, this way I don’t have to think and or deal with my own predicament. I really felt bad, really weak and drained, but quitting was not an option. I continued on towards Nelspruit and got to meet really awesome people on the road. Most runners were struggling because of the extreme heat and I saw a few runners being picked up by ambulances and many just pulled out of the race, and with good reason. It was a tough day. When I crossed the finish line at 05:13:47 I was so tired but when I looked at my running belt, I realised I had a “successful run”, my plan B paid off – I have handed out every single sachet of Rehydrate I had, I shared every single Vitrace I had and gave away all my Race Food and Power Bars – I shared it all with someone who needed it more than I did. Mission accomplished. Almost.
Although I had completed one of my worst races ever, I had one more thing to do. I passed a friend, Mercia, close to the end and she was in real pain, dehydrated and cramping severely. She was walking, unable to run at all. When I left her behind on my way to the end I decided I was going to go back for her, and I did. I took off my running belt and as a friend to keep my belt and medal and I got back on the route and ran back to look for Mercia. I found her less than two kilometres from the end. When I got to her another lady was with her and her hubby also just got to her. We walked hand in hand to the end and although I knew that nothing I said was going to make any difference to how she felt, I just tried to keep her focussed; the end was around the corner and she was going to finish her race, and she did. I am not sure about the time, but I think we crossed the line around 05:40’is, definitely under the dreaded 06:00 cut-off. I was so proud of Mercia, for not quitting and for going on to the very very end. I salute you girl !!!!!
Well, there you have it, Rudamans Kaapsehoop 3in1 – A “Successful Disaster” !
I shout out to every single person who took on this race, who made it or who did not make it, who ran a personal best or a personal worse, who have done their first marathon or ran just another marathon – This was a tough day and I am sure everyone had their own race day challenges to deal with, whatever your race day story is – well done for being there. Always remember, dead last or not finishing at all always trumps did not start. So if YOU started the race, credos to you for that !
See you next year at Rudamans Kaapsehoop 2016 ! Happy running everyone !
[ View some of my pictures here ]