It’s a rare occasion for me to be speechless after an international running event but yes, the Two Oceans Marathon that went down last Saturday in the “Mother City” left me speechless! I have been privileged to participate in a good number of running events around the world and truth be told, I don’t think there is any sugarcoating in saying that Two Oceans Ultra Marathon is the world’s most beautiful marathon.
From the jaw-dropping beauty of the course, the world class event organization, near perfect weather condition, to the amazing support all through the 56km stretch, it took me time for it to finally sink in that I am still in Africa over the race weekend.
I got goose bumps standing at the start line at dawn and hearing locals sing their national anthem and the famous South African traditional solidarity song (Shosholoza) before the start. What a euphoric way to start a marathon and it is right there that the Mzansi magic hits you and one cannot help but admire the beauty that is the rainbow nation.
Never before have I enjoyed running uphill like I did on the first major hill on the course; the famous Chapman’s Peak. Sandwiched between the alluring ocean beauty and the mountain precipice, I was literally dancing up the hill to the delight of a sub 4.20 “bus” running behind me.
Similar invincibility experience unfolded on the Constantia Nek, the last major hill coming after the full marathon mark. Here, on one of the steep stretches, I was all smiles when a burly and heavily bearded guy wearing only briefs and with good resemblance to Zach (the one of the hangover movie), literally refused runners to walk on his home turf and wildly cheered and escorted runners up the stretch. What a motivation!
The icing on the cake was me sprinting the last 6km of the race at a 4.1 min/km pace, taking on a challenge from a random stranger and finishing the race with some gas to spare in the tank with a time of 4.16.01, according to my Garmin watch. It’s always a thrill sprinting the home stretch of a long distance race.
Folks, everything just came together in this race for me. Besides uninterrupted training for the event, I was getting myself into uncharted territory this time round and there was no pressure on me but to finish the race in a decent time. My pace actually felt too conservative towards the end and I knew I will be back to race again this beautiful course on a higher gear even before I finished the race.
In terms of preparation, two long runs beyond the marathon distance got me more than ready for the assignment. One was a 48km run in Tigoni but I guess it was the Fluorspar run that once again did the magic for me. As guys headed to Kilimanjaro four weeks out to race day, I did my last long run in Kerio Valley running 53km up the escarpment solo, with the support of a hired motorbike guy carrying my supplies. Small wonder then that Chapman’s Peak and Constantia Nek had nothing on me but a breeze.
The only downside of an amazing weekend was that for some strange reason, my running chip stopped capturing my movement at the 50km mark and I was not able to get my official provisional finishing results after crossing the tape. However, after launching a formal query, the event organizers promised to sort the matter later on and update my results on their website.
This happened to be a record entry by Swara’s to the event with everyone finishing the race within the cut-off time of 7 hours. It promises to be even bigger next year with almost every Swara participant already looking forward for a return next year. As for me, the race for the Blue Number Club membership has just began but first things first…..Comrades Power!