Hemel & Aarde Marathon – by Gill Koch

The following article is composed by Gill Koch:

“Saturday 5th March 2020

The fabulous Hemel & Aarde had been in the pipeline since late 2021.  Once entries opened I was in there like a flash securing my place in this epic marathon, then booking our accommodation in Caledon as soon as I could to ensure a roof over our heads.  Lots and lots of training runs including those offered by Wietse on a Saturday morning from 05h30, hills hills and yet more hills for the first 6km’s then the Durbanville roads even out somewhat enabling me to cover a 21km distance in approximately 02h15.  Quite acceptable in my book.

Come Thursday 3rd March however, we received an email from Wietse which started with the words –  Good afternoon Hemel & Aarde runners, I have news that is probably going to make you all unhappy.  My heart sank, my first thought was that the marathon had been cancelled.  But no, it was Wietse informing us that the powers that be had decided right at the eleventh hour to deem the chosen road unsafe to run on.  So the next option was to run a new route starting and finishing at the Hermanus High School. 

But where to from here as we had secured our accommodation in Caledon?  And then just one text from Amanda changed my entire Thursday.  Actually my Friday too.  Ok so make it the entire weekend.  Amanda had contacted Dave and Kathy Johnston who have an amazing property in Hermanus.  And guess where it is?  On the golf course with the Hermanus High School within spitting distance.  Amanda confirmed that Dave and Kathy were quite happy to house the lot of us.  Carl, Amanda, Sonz and I.  After a huge sigh of relief I cancelled our Caledon accommodation and got packing for the marathon.

Before we knew it however it was Friday 4th March.  Carl had offered to drive us through to Hermanus and without pulling any punches here, the drive through was a pain in the proverbial arse!  Roadworks & Friday afternoon traffic = bedlam!  Through Somerset West and up over Sir Lowrey’s Pass was long and tedious.  Plus I had downed a fair amount of Pepsi Max, so I was desperate for a loo!

Eventually, yes eventually after leaving Cape Town at 14h00 we arrived in Hermanus just after 17h00.  As Dave was on the golf course, we were met by Kathy and Issie who immediately pointed me in the right direction!  After settling in, the braai fire was lit and we were able to relax at last pondering what Saturday would bring us.

Woke up to my alarm set for 05h00.  Prepped and ready, Sonz and I strolled over to the Hermanus High School and took our places in self seeding pens.  At 06h00 it was time to run the marathon.  The marathon so aptly titled by Amanda – the NOT Hemel & Aarde Marathon.  After about an hour on the road the sun came out and the day just got hotter and hotter.  There was truly little respite from the heat, so it was a case of one foot in front of the other.  The route was out of Hermanus towards Onrus and Vermont then back along the main road past Mount Pleasant, past Voelklip and back into the Hermanus High School.  If I’ve left any towns out, so be it.  This was my route, and this is what I saw.

Running 42km’s is never easy.  Well let me rephrase that.  It’s never easy for me.  And compared to others – some others – my running pace especially over such a long distance seems to remain at a near constant 7 mins a km, which I’m perfectly happy with.  So having said that other than having crazy sore feet, I have no complaints about the marathon whatsoever.  It was always going to be tough.  There were hills.  There were long straight stretches.  There were busy main roads to contend with.  But I crossed the finish line with a time of 04h55.  Unfortunately the route was a little shorter than anticipated due to road cones being nicked the night before.  Why I couldn’t even begin to tell you.  What on earth does one do with road cones?  Other than the very obvious of course.  I then received an official message which read – Congrats Gill on completing the Hemel & Aarde Marathon in a finish time of 05h01.  Honestly I was a tiny bit happier with the 04h55 but the official time made me just as happy.  This was my 9th marathon.  My first was Cango Marathon and I remember so very clearly being met by Felicia and saying – OK, that’s it.  I’m done now.  I’ve run a marathon.  Never again!

I would like to thank Wietse and his team for his absolute tenacity in actually making this race happen.  With all the odds stacked up against him, he really had to dig deep and pull more than one trick out of his hat.  But he managed to do so and as far as I’m concerned – it was a success!

To the refreshment tables and traffic department.  This marathon just could not have gone ahead without you.  Every 3km’s was a well provided table with ice cold water and coke and the traffic cops made it their business to give runners the right of way.  So hospitable and friendly.  Each and every one of them.

To Dave and Kathy.  Gee guys.  What can I say.  You welcomed us into your beautiful home and made us feel so welcome and so comfortable.  This was very very much appreciated and will never be forgotten.

And last but by no means least.  To my lovely Carl who cycled the route and managed to photograph each and every single West Coaster running the marathon.  Some of the photographs had to be ditched however.  They were a little too honest!  Once back home, Carl uploaded the photo’s and it was my job to sort and decide which ones could and should go public.

That’s it folks!  And please peeps, the abovementioned is my personal opinion. “

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