The Two Oceans Ultra (56km) Saturday 15th April 2023 and half marathon (21km) Sunday 16th April 2023
On Thursday morning I had to pop through to the city for a visit with my dentist. Straight afterwards I decided to stop over at the CTICC to collect my race number. Then to my dismay I saw the queue to people waiting to enter – probably from here to Timbuktu? It was at that very moment I made a U Turn and headed back to where I’d come from. Home.
On Friday morning after running with handsoncoach Alan, Heidi mentioned that she would be going through to the CTICC to collect her number. Here’s where I jumped at the chance to join her and didn’t need a second invitation. Off we went and found rather a convenient parking spot almost opposite the CTICC which meant a short walk to collection. Once there however it was much the same as Thursday as far as queue’s go and envisaged spending a very long time ‘till we got in. A couple of young girls took pity on us though and let us slip in with them sharing their spot. The number collection went smoothly and without a hitch then it was into the next queue to exchange a Tshirt for Helen which was way too big! The Tshirts seemed to be a bone of contention with most, if not all of them, being a lot larger than anticipated? We strolled through the Expo after being gifted with packets of rice and sandwich breads, then it was off out into the fresh air and home!
Saturday morning I awoke to the sound of gusty winds. Looking out of my bedroom window I could see the trees swaying in rhythm with the weather and felt rather relieved that it was not a running day for me. Although through experience I have noticed that the weather here in Blouberg/Sunningdale is usually completely different to that of Hout Bay/Simon’s Town/city centre. Carl drove Heidi and I to the Total Garage in Blouberg where we – Paula, Mariana, Heidi, Susan, Bianca, Meg and I shared the load by hopping into two cars en-route UCT. After parking on the side of the road, alongside hundreds of others parked alongside the road we made our way to the finish line. Before setting off, we made a quick pit stop, as peeps do and I must say that the plastic porta loo’s at the finish were absolutely pristine. Very clean indeed. Photo’s were taken along the way with Bianca announcing that she had unfortunately lost one of her rings? Stating that it was costume jewelry, it could be replaced and the loss wasn’t too great. Up steps, down steps, up more steps managing to reach my goal of steps for the day! Security was tight. They were not giving an inch. Show your blue badge for entry or keep walking. Try as I might, there was no way they were going to let me in. So after trying to squeeze myself in between spectators glued to the fence which didn’t work either, I took the decision to march off back to the West Coast gazebo and take photo’s from there. The girls had other idea’s though and chose to walk out on to the road to support our runners.
Mandela was kind enough to be manning the gazebo which offered a large cooler box filled with ice and very cold drinks. From beer to flavoured milk to water and coke. There was also a large Tupperware filled with ready made (by Mary – thank you!) packs of chocolates/jelly sweets and crisps. Returning to the gazebo proved to be the right thing for me to do. The DJ was sending out all the right vibes with a huge TV covering the race right above him. A couple of foodie vans were serving chips, burgers, sandwiches, coffee, wraps and my all time favourite . . . coke!
It wasn’t long – believe it or not – that Suzette made her entrance along with Grahame. These two superstars, super runners, super athletes appeared on the field as if they’d just completed a park run. One of 56km’s of course. But they were so relaxed – a little tired I’m sure. Or a lot tired but comfortable enough to sit and have a chat sharing the gazebo between themselves.
Then others started appearing, coming in by themselves or two by two, but coming in nevertheless. I had been following most of our runners on the phone app so I had a rough idea of who to expect and when. It was Henricus and Dean (Dave’s nephew) that made their entrance next. Also looking very calm and collected as did Suzette and Grahame.
Now this is where I stop name dropping. Simply because I just can’t remember who came in next. Rather that way actually otherwise I’m bound to put my foot in it. As I do. I must say it was absolutely wonderful being present at the gazebo, seeing our folk coming in was a real treat. Paula had made a congratulations banner for Alan and Issie – such a brilliant idea. So thoughtful and creative. As you must know by now, it was the 20th Two Oceans Ultra for both Alan and Issie. Quite some feat hey! Seeing that I haven’t even done one!
Now with everyone in and group photo’s having been taken – thank you Tamster for reigning in the troops! – it was time to call it a day. Lots of goodbye’s, cheerio’s, see you tomorrows, see you at the braai – we made our way back to the car. Two up front with Bianca driving and four sardines in the back as Meg had left earlier to attend a family do. Driving along minding our own business, Bianca said suddenly that she had felt something strange in the leg of her jeans? You’re not going to believe this – or ok maybe you will – but it was the RING!! The ring that Bianca thought she had lost. It must have slipped off her finger whilst in the porta loo and made it’s way into Bianca’s jeans. Well one could have heard us laughing from miles away. What on earth are we like?? Back to Table view where we once again bid each other farewell till tomorrow as Sunday would be the turn of the 21km runners. In the meantime though, it was time for tea!
Sunday morning at as they say – stupid o’clock! Collected Heidi and Carl drove us to the Total Garage so that we could share the bus organized by Melkbos Athletic Club. What a brilliant idea it was to offer this to our West Coast peeps. I imagine the seats were snapped up in minutes. Comfortable too. No parking issues. Just got on the bus and chatted/dozed and soon enough we were where we were supposed to be. Say that after a couple of wines!!
First call of course were the ablutions. Although there were plenty, we joined the queue but one could smell the solutions/detergents/people who had got there before you – from way back when. Truly nauseating stuff. At one point Janine went into a loo and came straight back out again. In her very own words – Gill I want to kotz!!! That alone made us all smile. So now it was onto walking into our pens. I had noticed that the infamous Mr O was offering a 02h30 bus which seemed ideal to me. At the time. Group A left first after singing and recognizing our national anthem. In three languages which was just so fabulous. I have the English and Afrikaans ones off pat, but still learning the “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika”
The gun went off and with a two minute interval each pen was released and off they went. The cat’s eyes were certainly causing havoc and getting their monies worth causing so much mayhem, bringing runners to their knees. It’s pretty hard not to look as one sees a runner fall. Or grasp their chest and edge off to the side. Wow all of this in the first 5kms! It’s just something one cannot unsee and it plagued me for the entire race. I managed to stick with Mr O for the first 12km’s. Now here’s where I must admit to having started with aches and pains in my left leg. But oh I’ll run through those is always my mantra. But the best laid plans seems to go awry and once again the pace setter flag seemed to disappear in front of my very eyes. Again. This is now getting to be a habit! The pain in my left ankle area just got worse and worse bringing me to a walk. I should have thrown the towel in there and then. But no. Soldier on.
Crossing the finish line way way later than I anticipated I felt well and truly dreadful. Light headed, dizzy and just plain bloody awful!!
It was Louise Rohner and her husband Martin that were extremely kind to me. They guided me and helped me down the too many steps back to our gazebo. Without them, I’d probably still be there. Lost. Well it was up to me to polish off the coke zero. And this I did with the greatest amount of relish, but I was still feeling SO bad. I was champing at the bit to leave for home but I’d come on the bus with the Melkies. Once I saw though that Tamster and Bruce were leaving I asked if I could travel with them. One problem though. I couldn’t walk. There I was glued to the grass. I just couldn’t move my left foot. Sheer agony. The Woods however received permission to drive onto the grass area and I was loaded into the car. Homeward bound. At long long last. With my medal for completing the Two Oceans 21km.
I will definitely think twice before tackling this race again. Just so congested. Getting up so early. Arranging transport. Blah blah blah.
So here’s where the thank you’s come in:
Lizl de Klerk, Kevin and their son manned the gazebo. And very well too. Thank you for being there and all that you do.
Charmaine and Mervin Pillay. A thousand thanks to you both. Offering up your time and helping out so much with my aching foot.
Tamster and Bruce Wood for taking me home.
My peeps – Sue, Heidi, Meg and Paula. What would I do without you. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for you kindness and support.
From Nelia Henry: What a day! I’ve been keeping a cold at bay the whole week, but woke up this morning feeling good. Don (always my hero) spotted me along the way so many times and lifted my spirits! Needed the loo early on (despite going before I started), wasted time at 12km waiting for a loo then continued, feeling strong…..but from about 25ish km (I think) my tummy started burbling…..it was NOT happy. The 6:45 bus caught up with me on Chappies……I tried keeping up with their walk run but I was tired! Started cramping from about 32km When I got into Hout Bay I couldn’t anymore and thankfully spotted loos….SJOE! Welcome relief! Thinking it was all done….I set off again, saw my uncle, Mervyn Lee just at the bottom of Constantia Nek, he rubbed my legs down which helped for a km or 2! I was very teary seeing him, knowing I was way behind on my time already. Walked most of the Nek. Don was at the top…no time to stop….I barely made it to the loo!! My stomach had been cramping REALLY badly at this point – to the point where I was doubled up and couldn’t move! Off again…..10km to go….1hr10min left….Another loo stop At 50.5km I spotted the Westie girls and we did a little out and back to make distance. Cindy Calitz ran with me a little way urging me on. By this time I was very scared I wouldn’t make it. Wanting to walk…then telling myself I HAVE to run (shuffle) I crossed the line at 7:00:23. They gave me a medal. There were MANY tears! There was some confusion as to whether each batch would be timed individually or if the cut off was 7hrs after the last batch (which is what they did the count down for at the end). Checking the Two Oceans site, my profile shows “Did Not Finish” so I’ll do it again next year for my first time! End of the day I ran for 56km….not many can say that! I know that I CAN do it in under 7hrs…today my body just wasn’t well enough – 4 loo stops wasted so much time, not to mention the time doubled up or the fact that I literally and physically had nothing left in my tank – I stopped taking in nutrition after about 28km other than gels which I also stopped at about 36km It did confirm that Comrades will never be a goal for me though! As always…. Donovan Henry was amazing! I am so lucky to have him in my life! I could not have done this without his support over the last 6 months….from early morning alarms to following me over many kms with potatoes, MyO2gel and Biozest! To the MANY who sent messages, checked in with him, tracked me on the app….THANK YOU!
From Amelia Lourens: So this happened yesterday… I’ve been nurturing an injury for the past two weeks…one doctor said it’s piriformis syndrome, and three days later another one said it is sciatica. Well, went off to my Chiropractor (who I personally think is more knowledgeable than the doctors, as he has worked with plenty of athletes) and it turns out to be a rotated disk next to my Sacroiliac joint. He worked hard on it and I’ve been really feeling the difference, but obviously it was still there. So, nervously, I started the Two Oceans Ultra on Saturday, very hopeful just to have a comfortable run.
Literally from the get go I couldn’t feel my feet, especially my left foot, which had pins and needles and I was very worried as I didn’t know how I put my feet down when I ran. Very quickly into the race my toes started cramping and I started feeling my left calf and my right ITB, the result of putting my feet incorrectly on the road while running.
I think I had to stop about 100 times to try and stretch my toes to be sure they are flat when they hit the ground. My toes and feet were in constant pain and I really can’t recall any minute that I ran comfortably.
I pushed on, wishing I could stop the entire time, just giving in and calling an uber. Unfortunately for a runner, that choice and call is usually never on the cards as we, as runners, are super stubborn.
So I realize my pace was very slow but thought that if I could at lease maintain it, there was a possibility to finish in time. At 15km I had 2 Myprodols, at 20km I was still in so much pain, so at 25km I had 2 more. At about 37km I literally couldn’t step on my left foot and had my last to Myprodols. Chapmans Peak was an enormous challenge, but I just walked/ran/walk/ran it until I was finally over it. I’ve never hated Chappies as much as I hated it yesterday. Anyway, I knew there was a 42km cut off coming and I was hoping to make that cut off and just soldier on to the end. Just before 42km, I realized that after 42km, I had 14km left and could still make it if I just push through.
Anyway, came around the corner just to see a bus and loads of runners standing in the road. The cut off has happened and we weren’t allowed to continue. I have never felt so disappointed in my life. I am usually not a quitter and I felt very upset not to be able to finish the race. This is literally the first race I haven’t finished.
With 56 days to Comrades, I seriously need to focus from now on on my rehabilitation and training. I didn’t finish Oceans, but at least I have a 42km long run in the bag…upward and onward!!
And there you have it folks. The Two Oceans weekend blog. As always peeps – no offence meant to anyone at all. It was Freddy Mercury that sang The Show Must go on. And it did. And be kind. Till next time Gill x