South Africans have this colloquial high-life term called Phuza Thursday, loosely translated from Zulu meaning Alcohol, but in a sentence it denotes to Drinking Copiously and Thursday is pretty much reserved for this. So, after 4 days of board meetings, I was deaf in one ear and a bit cross eyed from the presentations and when Thursday came, the office was abuzz because it was Phuza Thursday.
Appealing as it may sound to an outsider I was not risking Phuza Thursday knowing that some of consequences , will include me singing loudly and badly at karoeke , and thank God that happened pre YouTube years. So ahem…no Phuza Thursday for me…. And that’s when I spied the first runner in the office, dressed completely in his running clothes, and another, and another. And I followed him and shamelessly asked,” is there a run today?” To which he responded, “yes, there is the JP Morgan’s Challenge taking place today and we leave in 20 minutes; and you need to have registered a week earlier.”
So this is where the perks of being a runner comes in. Ahem…. I begged, nearly whined , threatened a tear or two and pulled -I am- the- visitor- card… and it worked! So armed with a corporate T shirt named after my male colleague , I quickly and happily changed into my running gear, just in case he changed his mind… and that’s when I found out the run was 5.64kms. So flippantly I thought this would be easy. Was I in for a surprise.
The run. There were 13,600 runners from 120 countries. The route mapped was in one of the oldest and wealthiest suburbs in Johannesburg, called Illovo , it pretty much reminded me of the Patrons’ run that was done in Muthaiga earlier in the year. Another interesting thing about the run was that it was going to be done from 7:00pm and the 5.64 km was entirely uphill. My flippant views about the run were slowly quashed and I was rather nervous.
The one thing I love about organized runs is the anxiety and excitement leading to the run. Everyone is edgy, music is blaring loudly and the announcer keeps on reminding you why you are running (The run was for charity). The start of the run was at the bottom of the hill and we began the uphill task (pun intended) at 7pm.
As we started the run the only thing that was going through my head was , “come on mates have the decency to have some sense of etiquette as you run!” Runners weaving through your path is a sure way of landing on the ground. So here we were running in the middle of upper class suburbia in Johannesburg and in true South African fashion they came out of their homes, in their pajamas or jeans , tshirts and slippers, whipped out beers from the fridge got the barbeque stove and started to Brai ( Colloquial Afrikaans term for barbequing meat) and cruelly encouraged us how they loved the smell of sweat and running as they enthusiastically chomped away at their barbeques! Ah Upper Class issues! And in all honesty at the moment, as I sweated away running up the hill, I would not mind joining them.
So 29 minutes 33 seconds later, after running through great Johannesburg suburbia and being psychologically tortured over the smell of the tantalizing smell of Brai, I made it to the finish. My personal best for 5.64 kms .
Next stop Zanzibar (Stone Town and Bwejuu)