IMG_1067The Two Oceans Marathon has been on my bucket list since completing my Double Comrades in 2009 but I could never persuade HWMBO that flying out for a 56km race was a fantastic idea!  Thankfully my lovely friend Guy finally found the right woman and their wedding was the weekend before, perfect timing, so within a flash I was on-line and signed up.

Two Oceans began in 1970 with only 26 runners on the start line, since then it has grown into one of South Africa’s biggest events attracting runners from all over the world, it’s known as the Worlds most beautiful marathon. The race starts at Newlands takes an 56km almost circular route finishing at the University of Cape Town.

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 09.00.10Although runners are chip-timed the race goes from gun to gun with 7 hours to complete the distance and a few cut offs along the route.

25km at 09:40 – Corner of Corvette Avenue and Corsair Drive, Sun Valley.
38.5km at 11:20 – Outside Chapman’s Peak hotel.
42,2km at 11:50 – Outside Four Season’s hotel.
46,1km at 12:20 at the top of Constantia Nek.

Record Incentives – R1 000 000 each (£57,340)

This year there is an incentive of R1,000,000 (£57,340) to the Overall winner who breaks the course record (3:03:44) OR first woman who breaks the woman’s course record (3:30:36). – I don’t think I’m in with a chance!

Louise very kindly dropped me off just before 6 a.m. very close to the start, my first port of call was to queue for the loo as my stomach was feeling decidedly dodgy.  As one does you get into conversation with the people behind and in front of you, one guy offered to sell me a sheet of loo paper for R100 – thankfully there was enough in the porter loos.

Each runner is seeded according to their qualifying marathon time, I had a C seeding so made my way to the “C” pen.  As I was walking down towards the starting line I turned round to randomly talk to the person coming up beside me and it turned out to be Dick Stubbs who I had run in the Kalahari Extreme Marathon with in both 2006 and 2009, what are the chances of that! It was so lovely to see him, really made my day.

It felt rather crowded in the “holding” pens waiting for the start, I worried that I would trip up once we got going.  The South African National Anthem was played followed by the traditional blowing of the Fish Horn and finally at 6.30am the gun was fired and we were off.

The first few minutes was a walk as there were so many runners trying to cross the start line.  I was more than happy about this as it gave my chest a chance to warm up then the paced picked up and off we went. I had a time in mind but decided that the only time I would look at my watch would be to check I was OK for the cut-offs.

My stomach for the first 10k felt as though it was going to explode so I was keeping an eye out for any porter-loos or bushes I could dart behind, thankfully I didn’t need to pay a visit to a passing bush as my insides eventually settled down.  A marvellous lady called Monica ran up behind me and introduced herself, she is friend of Guy whose wedding we had just been to, what a small world, I even managed to talk and run at the same time, a great way to meet people! A few k’s down the road I met up with Eric who I had met for lunch and then saw James who works at the Sports Science Institute – what a social race this was turning out to be.

Each runner has their name, age and number of times they have done the half marathon and Ultra on their running number which was fantastic from my point of view (apart from the age thing!) as some of the people I ran along side or behind were on their 20 plus Ultra.  The support along the route is amazing, the streets are lined with people shouting words of encouragement as you pass and it makes such a difference when you hear your name being called out.

The first half of the race is the easiest with all the major hills coming in the second half.  Leaving Lakeside you head follow the road towards the coast and run alongside a railway line before turning right towards Fish Hoek then only about 6k to Chapman’s Peak the first of the long hills. As you are running towards Chappies there are signs on the road saying “its only a hill get over it” – loved it! I was playing cat and mouse with a lovely lady called Laura, who I told me she read my blog, always nice to hear that it’s read by a few people. She was a great incentive for me to try and keep up with her, not always possible as she looked strong and was running well – always with a smile on her face.

The weather was almost perfect, good temperature and the wind wasn’t too strong, although there were a few occasions when we had a head wind but nothing to worry about and for me it was a blessing as it cooled me down, so there was no complaining coming from me!  Water stations were fairly regular although there were a few sections where the water was in cups rather than the little pouches they usually had which meant that most of the water ended up out of my mouth rather than in it.

At the bottom of Chapmans Peak I saw my lovely friend Martin, a fantastic excuse to have a hug before continuing up the hill – “Chappies” as it’s affectionately called although long isn’t too bad to run.  I did have a couple of short walking breaks so I could breath but it’s very runnable.  The view from the top is absolutely outstanding and well worth the run up.

IMG_1121The run down the otherside towards Hout Bay was beautiful, I felt as though I was on holiday, how could you not when you are looking out over the blue ocean.  I was slightly distracted for a moment as three guys wearing what looked like Speedos in SA colours ran past me – that was a great incentive to pick up the pace!

Running down into Hout Bay I was looking out for HWMBO and my friends who said they would be there to cheer me on.  I spotted HWMBO, Gemma and Dave, another stop for a sweaty hug then I saw Louise, Daksha and some of the other ladies I had run with earlier on in the week and further down the road was given a big cheer from Linda Doke (if I was able to run like Linda I would be a very happy lady).  With renewed vigour I continued on my way towards the second big climb in the race Constantia Nek.

P1040951 P1040955 P1040956HWMBO, Louise and I had driven up Constantia Nek so I knew this section was steep and long but once again people were lining the course cheering us up the hill – I kept focusing on the person in front of me, concentrated on keeping up or “go on Mimi let’s see if we can overtake!” worked well and when I eventually got the top I met up with Sean Falconer of Modern Athlete Magazine who was armed with a microphone cheering people though – another excuse for a brief hello before the final section of the race.

The next bit although there were no more major hills had a horrible camber that made running very uncomfortable, especially with my ankle so I tried my best to run on the “flatter” sections of the road.

With 3k to go a guy on a motorbike drove past really slowly and shouted out my name, I turned to discover it was Andrew King of D4 Production who is helping Samantha and I on our Freedom Runners Project, sadly I didn’t manage to catch up with him at the finish.

Running into the finish was amazing, loads of people cheering and clapping, I picked up the pace and finished in 5:32:  (3mins 22 secs for crossing the line!) not the fastest time but I was happy – firstly I had finished feeling strong, more importantly my ankle had held up so all in all a fantastic day at the office.

IMG_0961During the race I met some wonderful people who made me feel SO welcome as an international runner.  The race itself is very beautiful, it has a great atmosphere and I would certainly do it again.  If you have never been to South Africa before go and run this race and then go and explore some other parts of this beautiful country.

I will be back in September for the run of my life.

www.freedomrunners.org

 

 

 

 

 

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