Could South Africa learn from Road Running?

Today’s race at the National Botanical Gardens in Pretoria was no exception. Again I was surprised by what I learned except that it was not from a South African but a foreigner who has been in South Africa for only nine months.

One is not accorded a special status in road running. All runners are equal. Unlike the public discourse which is characterised by divisive racism, violent political rhetoric and the politics of rage especially by the EFF, road running does not suffer from these travails.

Main picture: The entrance to the Willows resort in Port Elizabeth. Instead of inserting some arbitrary pictures onto this blog, I have included photographs of Willows Resort near Port Elizabeth because as youngsters we spent many an Easter Holiday there.

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The Chronicle of the Journey into Terra Incognito

This is a poignant tale of taking two novices through their first marathon. On 22nd March 2009, two unwilling victims – Arnold Paikin and Johann Scholtz – were dragged through their first marathon. This blog chronicles the pathos and pain of that experience. The first half of the blog is my experience of that baleful race and the second is Arnold’s plaintiff riposte to an uncaring slave driver – that is me. Tell me which version that you believe. His or mine?

 My version of that momentous day

Clearly it would not be terra incognito for me having already done in excess of 90 marathons & ultras. Contrary to expectations, I have a view that, despite having completed so many, one’s body is not designed to run that far; especially mine. The reason that I say terra incognito is that if one has never run a marathon before, one probably extrapolates from how one felt after a half marathon & imagines – wishful thinking really – that another 21kms cannot be that difficult. Surely not? How can it? What is not factored into that equation is that the body exhausts its glycogen supply after approximately 30kms and then one hits the wall. Apart from that, the body at that point is no longer making timid suggestions that would the mind please desist from such stupid behaviour but now throws a tantrum in the form of pain, blisters & generally becomes bolshie.

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Are Road Running Entrance Fees becoming a Rip-Off?

A recent spate of high entrance fees culminating in Old Eds charging R100 for a 10km race and R120 race has revived the issue. Does this herald the change in road running from a cheap to an expensive sport?

The race that leads the pack in terms of high fees is the 702 Walk the Talk which cost me R140 for a 20km walk. Considering that participants no longer even receive a free T-Shirt, I considered it exorbitant. For whatever reason in my mind, this race is viewed as an event rather than a “race” and hence it was forgiven.

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A Drab and Unremarkable Race with Pretensions: Gauteng Sports Challenge

Gauteng requires a big city marathon on the scale of the London Marathon but the Gauteng Sports Challenge doesn’t fit the bill

With all the hype & a large dollop of prize money, one would expect world class organisation, a stunning route a la the Two Oceans & the excitement of a large-city marathon.

Instead the Gauteng Sports Challenge of 2013 had none of these attributes.

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