And now for something completely different
Ever wondered what would happen if we neutralised the effect of gender at a race, and pitched the efforts of the top males and females against each other on equal grounds? Well, wonder no more. The Battle of the Sexes Medihelp 10km Tekkie Challenge does exactly that. How is this possible? By staggering the start times for males and females by the time difference between the personal records of the top participating athlete in each gender.
While staggered-start, battle of the sexes type races are relatively well-known in the United States, the Tekkie Challenge is the only one of its kind in South Africa – therefore as a participant in this race you get a taste of something truly innovative and unique. As a female athlete starting out in the front, the “wait” for the elite males to catch up adds a real element of excitement to the run and you find yourself pushing to see how far you can get before the boys come flying by.
There are countless events taking place in and around the Western Cape, and athletes are spoiled for choice every weekend. In this environment, I believe, event organisers who build innovative elements into their line up increase the attractiveness of their event and, over time, may see their races emerging onto the list of must-do-runs. In my opinion, the Medihelp 10km Battle of the Sexes is definitely one of these must-do-runs. Not only because of the staggered start, but also because the logistics of this event ran like a finely tuned machine in 2018. To top that off, the event is hosted in aid of a worthy cause. More about all of these aspects – and how far I got before the boys caught up – in the official ratings graphic below.
Came close, but not quite as fast as I had hoped!
With the competitive nature of the start line I would have been hard pressed to stick to a low heart rate on this run. Lucky for me this week the programme prescribed a “flat out race”, dividing the run into three sections of 3-4-3.
The goal I set myself was to try break 50 minutes. However, sticking to the planned pace without tiring myself too much in the first five kilos proved hard since all the climbing was done on this portion. Although I made up time on the descent, I just did not have the leg speed to bring the pace down enough. In the end I finished 10km in 50:13 and the course (which was just over 10km) in 50:28 (my watch, not official stats). Still very happy with the outcome of the race, and will have to come back next year to try and beat my course best of 47:52.
Proof that many little things all add up to something great
At the risk of repeating myself, I would not fault this event on anything this year.
The event master of ceremony was a great entertainer, creating a good amount of hype leading up to the announcement of the staggered-start time difference. The 5km and 10km routes intersect at points, but enter the finish line area through two different gates which worked brilliantly. Yet, everyone finished under the same arch which was surrounded by a lively crowd. It was this type of logistical engineering around all the small details that added up to an outstanding event.