First time to the Rainbow Nation

First time to the Rainbow Nation for the Two Oceans Marathon weekend….

 
It has been a while since I both raced and blogged, a month in fact since the Garmin Race Your Pace half marathon at the Eton Dorney Olympic Rowing Lake, where I blew away by PBs for the 10K and Half, and today I want to remedy that.
If you follow me on Twitter (@RunnersKnees) you will know that I am in South Africa for the “World’s Most Beautiful Marathon” but, given it is quite pricey to get here, and is a 12 hour flight each way, I decided to use the rest of my annual leave to enjoy a 3 week trip to take in what the Rainbow Nation has to offer.
The Itinerary… UNLEASH THE SELFIES!

Cape Town…
The first port of call was Cape Town, a beautiful waterfront city that straddles both the Indian and Atlantic oceans (oh, that’s where the Two Oceans name comes from! Duh!). It is a healthy city, with the beach road awash with joggers and runners, cyclists, walkers oh and climbers… Here I am at the top of Signal Hill looking back at Table Mountain and Lion’s Head shortly before losing my New York Military Academy cap I’d worn for pretty much the last 5 years solid…
Enjoying shopping at The V&A Waterfront, and eating at The Grand, La Perla, The Local Grill, and Belluchi’s it was a sunny relaxing time before a flight to Port Elizabeth and a very different part of the trip.
Lalibela Game Reserve…
 
 
Yup, in a desperate bid to find some kind of wildlife, or at least the kind you don’t find in a queue for a nightclub in Croydon, I booked myself several nights at the Treetops lodge at Lalibela. This was amazing. In the hunt (pardon the pun) for the big 5! I managed to have close encounters with a pride of lions, as well as a lioness and her 7 cubs, a solitary giraffe, a whole lake of yawing hippos and these babies; a whole herd of elephants that walked by the jeep within less than 10 yards.

It was pretty incredible, the food was great, the staff amazing and the ranger superb.

Despite Golden Web spider webs that you could sleep in like a hammock, rumoured Puff Adders, a fruit bat in the room and having to deal with mosquito nets, as well as a 5am alarm call every day, I had a superb time. So that was City, to game reserve to…

Plettenberg Bay

Beach! Yes, it did rain for virtually all my time in Plett, and the food I ordered at the supposed best pizza restaurant The Table, arrived after an hour, and was then wrong! But it was good to get back to a 3 a day meal plan and lie-ins! And then…

 
Hermanus

Ok, so that is Poncho the Dead Whale in the parking lot by the cliff, and I did stay at the Aribella Spa and Golf Hotel but I liked the photo. The spa was lovely, and, although I am not a massive fan of buffet meals, the food ordered off the a la carte menu was pretty dire.
 
 
Road Trip…

Rather than flying from PE back to Cape Town, I decided on to drive the Garden Route back. It was pretty much a straight shot on the N2, all the way from the gates of the game reserve to Cape Town, with some pretty amazing scenery along the way.

Back to Cape Town and the Races…

And so I had originally decided to run the Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon. This was a good idea, and one that I was happy with. I do like the distance, and whilst almost beating and then smashing my half times, I was confident this was the way to go. But, one thing led to another, and I ended up signing up for the International Friendship Run the day before.

The EXPO was, and this cannot be taken lightly as I have been to Expos in the US, mainland Europe and the UK, AMAZING! It was superbly set out, well organised, and other than the terrible decisions at the parking structure next to the CITCC venue where you were not allowed to park on 3 floors and therefore your car baked on the roof, and then you were spewed out onto the N1 motorway going the wrong way for anyone, I couldn’t fault it.

Getting the numbers proved a little painful, as my IFR place was not confirmed, but I got my number anyway, and the courteous staff were able to get me my t-shirts (Of which there are three!)

I even got to see the fixtures of my OMTOM, TOM the penguin, and Media head Leonie.

 

 

The International Friendship Run or…

Haile Gebrselassie took us out too slow or…

The Day I Represented Malta!

Now this was a little odd. First I misread the times and thought the race started at 11 when, in fact, it was 9.30am and I had read the time of the family Fun Run. Second, I was wearing brand new Adidas Ultra Boost running shoes, ones that were plastered all over the EXPO as Adidas sponsored the clothing for the event. So this was the first time I ran in them. Third, as the Minstrels played at the race start, the Waterfront amphitheatre, surrounded by the flags of the international runners taking part there was a clear omission, the union jack. When asking where the flag I was supposed to run with was located, or whether it was handed out to any of the other 400 British runners, I was told it had been stolen the year before and they hadn’t bothered to replace it. NICE!

And so, as the runners took to the start like I took it upon myself to represent the holiday destination of choice, Malta in this run, as their runner hadn’t showed.

 

 
Now, whilst I can bitch and moan about Haile Gebrselassie taking us round at a snails pace that gave me terrible cramp, and that the very expensive Adidas Ultra Boost were the second most painful shoe I have even run in, second only to the British Army issue runners that took the skin off my feet, and that running with a flag isn’t the most comfortable of form, and that there was no Union Jack, or even cross of St George, I kinda liked running around the waterfront, and through Urban Park around the stadium that had, a couple of days before housed a One Direction concert that had shut the city down. I did do terribly though.

So, all in all, I have 6 days of my trip left, and am thoroughly enjoying it. Am tanned, healthy, and have had the chance of testing out and dismissing the Ultra Boosts before the race.

There is no race bling for the 5K, which measured 6.2K on my GPS, which was a shame, the Rock N Roll races give bling for all the races, including the family fun run, so maybe they will give them next year.

NEXT UP:
TWO OCEANS HALF MARATHON, CAPE TOWN
04/04/2015 6:00am
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