I’ve run many races since the beginning of 2015. Last year I completed 35 races and this year I have completed 10 races.
A few of my friends have asked me what problems I am running away from, or if I know anything that other people do not know. The prize however goes to the friend who joked that I’m running all these races in the hope to meet my future wife at one of these races.
A guy I used to work with once said he finds running to be a very lonely sport. I can understand where he was coming from, but after participating in all these races over the last year or so, I have found that running is not as lonely as one would first believe.
Running has allowed me to explore the Western Cape
Western Cape races take place at different locations each weekend. I have run in Paarl, Gordons Bay, Stellenbosch, Mamre, Franschoek, Atlantis, Langebaan, Seapoint, Greenpoint, Constantia, Athlone, Kuilsrivier, Koeberg Nature Reserve, Somerset West, Wellington, Century City, Bellville, Hout Bay to Camps Bay, Greepoint to Simonstown passing through Muizenberg and Fish Hoek, and who knows how many other places. Some of these places I may have never visited if it was not for running.
Being the Western Cape, the views along the races are usually breathtaking.
I’ve run in the Constantia vineyards at night, with a headlamp. An incredible experience I recommend for all runners.
Last year I went for race in Langebaan with a few friends. We made a road trip out of it and stayed in Langebaan for the weekend. We are going again this year, we are now calling it “The Annual Langebaan Weekend Away.” This time ten of us are going. In fact we are going there this coming weekend.
Running has given me the opportunity to meet new people
I did not know half of the people in this picture before I started running. I met them at the races.
Breakfast and exploring after the runs
After each race I usually go for breakfast with my friends. It gives us a good opportunity to discover new restaurants and socialise after some fitness activity. Depending on the location of the race, some further exploring of the area also happens.
After a race in Stellenbosch last year, I drove around four different wine estates with my friend Samuel and bought a few bottles of some fermented grape juice.
At the end of the Constantia Night trail runs we got given a bottle each of some wine from the Groot Constantia estate. A worthy gift for people who have just run up and down a mountain at night.
Running has challenged me mentally and physically
Murakami once described running as “both exercise and a metaphor.” The real marathon is life. It’s the doing every day. Running doesn’t need to be justified or applied to some end. You run because keeping a healthy body and clear mind is part of your job as a human being. Because it’s a commitment you made to yourself that you’re obligated to keep no matter how tired, how busy or how burnt out you feel. In other words, it’s practice—proof of your ability—in always having a little bit extra in you.
The races I remember most are the ones where I set my personal best times. Its on those days where I pushed my boundaries and challenged myself physically and mentally. There is a lot to running that is in the mind but the physical aspect cannot be ignored, if you want to truly experience the physical side of it, run a full marathon.
My personal best in a 10km race is currently 42 minutes and 52 seconds.
My personal best in a 21.1km race (half marathon) is currently 1 hour, 38 minutes and 40 seconds.
My personal best in a 42.2km race (full marathon) is currently 3 hours, 58 minutes 49 seconds.
Running has strengthened my friendships
I have run a large number of races with my friends. There have been a few races where I have run alone but it is a rare occurrence. Getting fit with friends can make all the difference between working hard enough to get results and missing races altogether. It’s harder to miss a race when someone is counting on you. Agree to a meeting time, and stick to it. I have a lot of post race pictures with friends, here are a few of them below.
The Century City Express race with Prashila, Himal, Cherel and Matan.
The ATC 4 x 3km relay race with Tatenda, Takudzwa and Jesse.
Greenpoint Park Run with Takudzwa, Nigel, Nyasha, Tatenda, Ropa, Zaahir, Sydne, and Dave.
The Lion of Africa race with Jesse, Sesethu and Takudzwa.
The Gun Run with Samuel, Jateen and Dismasi.
Running has strengthened my work relationships
“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.” – Nelson Mandela
When I worked at Allan Gray we formed a relay team with the software engineers above and participated in the ATC 4 x 3km relay race in Greenpoint, Cape Town.
Last year, along with some of the team from Prodigy Finance (my current workplace) we participated in the Gun Run.
Running has strengthened my family relationships
I completed a trail run with my dad in Stellenbosch. This was a few days after his 60th birthday. My friend joked that “it literally runs in the family.”
I’ve also run a few races with my younger brother (guy in the blue shorts), he doesn’t run as many races but he is still on the right side of 25 I guess.
The joy of seeing people challenge themselves
A good friend sent me this message a week back –> “Bro, I ran 3kms the other day and I almost died. What is the best way to get into this fitness thing?” I responded –> “You have to be consistent man, you can’t go wrong with consistency. Run that 3km once or twice a week, after a while it will become easier and you will be able to do 5km, then 10km, and more. Its not about the distance though, its the consistency bro!”
It is always great to see people challenge themselves and the joy they derive when they accomplish the challenge.
I was there when my fellow Zimbabwean friend Zaahir ran his 1st Park Run.
I was there when Mali ran her first 10km race.
I was there when Moshin completed his first 10km race.
I was there when Takudzwa completed his first 15km race.
I was there when Tadious (the guy on my left) completed his first 10km race.
I was there when Andile (the guy wearing red) completed his first full marathon.
Running has given me a sense of achievement
One day I can show my kids my medals collection and say “look what your dad achieved when he was young.”
On one of the weekends last year I decided to do some DIY and build a medal display on my wall.
This is the current state of the medal display. I think some DIY for another one may be due soon.
The opportunity for interesting stories
After one of the half marathon races in Mamre last year I met a Zimbabwean guy named Norbert. He asked me what position I came in the race and I told him. Since its not a typical question people ask each other after these runs unless you are a professional runner, I asked him what position he came, he responded “I came 22nd.” I asked him what his finishing time was and the told me some impressive time (I’ve forgotten the actual time he mentioned).
This is where the story becomes interesting, after further probing I found out that was Nobert’s first race ever in his life. He is actually a farm worker in the Mamre area and since the race was hosted in that area he just took the opportunity to come and try it out. Nobert said he had not run since high school. Its incredible, he even said he jogged from the farm to the race’s starting point. I’ve always believed I have some element of natural fitness in me but this guy was notches above me. I encouraged him to keep running and to participate in more races, you never know where it goes.
I’ve met Norbert at about 4 more races after that. At the last race I met him which was earlier this year, he told me he has now joined a running club and they train twice a week. I won’t be surprised to see Nobert finishing in the top ten for the big races soon.
Made sure I took a photo with Norbert (the guy in the middle) in case he becomes a celebrity athlete in a few years.
Sometimes you get to meet inspirational individuals
It was an honour and a privilege to meet the South African rugby team (Springboks) 1995 world cup winning captain Francois Pienaar at the end of the Cape Town Marathon.
Why do I really run?
I run because I enjoy it. I run because I need it. More than that, running and being fitness oriented has become part of my lifestyle. Running is not lonely, running is very social, running has been a source of inspiration in many ways.
I am grateful to live in a city that has a strong fitness culture. There is a race almost every weekend. So next time you are in Cape Town for those who don’t live here, and next time you feel the urge to go for a run for those who live in Cape Town. Let’s go for a run. You know where to find me.
I still haven’t met my future wife at any of the races yet, but who knows what will happen at this coming weekend’s race.