Spartan Harriers Firgrove Challenge with Discovery Vitality

This fabulous race is organized by the Spartan Harriers Club who are based in Meadowridge in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town.  The Spartan Harriers Firgrove Challenge race is made up of undulating hills and superb scenery and winds its way through the picturesque areas of Firgrove and Constantia.  It is the first race in the Discovery Run Series.

And so we begin.   Us girls got a Whatsapp out and gathered in who would be running the Firgrove 15km.  Once we had that sorted, it was time to delegate peeps to cars as we agreed to car share.  Not only an economical way to travel to races but as females travelling alone in the ungodly hours of the morning can lead to unwanted attention . . . and trouble!  Up at 03h15 – gee now that is super early.  Christa collected me at 04h00 with our next stop being in Flamingo Vlei for Theulice then off to the Total Garage to meet with Paula, Sonja, Mandy and Mariana to travel in convoy to Constantia.

The roads were empty and free flowing with any traffic going our way guaranteed they were off to the exact venue as us.  Parking was a breeze with plenty of marshals pointing out available parking spots.  On our way to the start line however we decided make a pit stop – as one does – but this time with a difference.  Genuine loo’s!  Yes, I kid you not.  And hardly any queue, my day was going to be a good one.  Even better with a marshal – yet again – allowing us ladies to use the gents section too.  Wow virtually unheard of, but such a huge convenience.  Talk about lucky.  Thank you very much ablution marshal.

The start line was congested.  As a start line usually is.  I did however manage to do a bit of squeezing in and excuse me please which ensured me not starting at the extreme back.  There were loads of runners.  A full house for sure.  And as advertised, The Firgrove had closed its entries due to being sold out.  How fabulous is that!  Sean Falconer gave regular updates as to what was taking place on the roads, waiting for the go ahead as to when we could start, as the Warrior on Wheels Foundation could take of just two minutes before the rest of us.  Founded in October 2015, the Warrior on Wheels Foundation is a unique, Cape-based South African NPO.  Warrior On Wheels Foundation aims to uplift and empower children with disabilities by providing special adventures tailored for special kids, thereby changing perceptions of ability and bridging gaps between able-bodied and differently-abled communities.  I can only but tip my humble hat to this group of runners.

It was now 05h45ish with the gun going off it was time to conquer the Firgrove 15km.  What a beautiful neck of the woods is this suburb called Constantia.  Crikey ultra posh too.  Gardens that go on forever with properties just built for that special occasion.  No dogs roaming the streets, no bins left out, just quietness and serenity.  Very very nice indeed.

With 3km’s under the belt, the first water table was in sight.  Offering water only but plenty of it.  Stopped for a quick cup then I was on my way again.  The weather was as humid as it is in Natal, leaving one quite breathless and looking for a good dose of fresh air.  Be that as it may, the trees which lined the avenues offered a good amount of welcome shade and the sprinklers – which I ran through – managed to cool me down somewhat.

Strangely enough though, the water table at the 6km mark wasn’t there.  Now I was either too early, too late, too distracted to see it . . . . or it just wasn’t there.  Sadly because I really could have done with it.  But being the running trooper that I am, it was a case of put up or shut up.  I managed to run up the hills without too  much discomfort and complaining noticing the very same faces with me that I started off with.  So I must have been doing something right? 

The water table at 9km was probably the most welcome sight to me and many many other runners I’m sure.  When I spotted that table ahead I went into a sprint that coach Alan Green would have been proud of.  My feet didn’t touch the ground.  Water/coke at last.   In reality I probably drank more than I should have but I was just so thirsty – and hot!  Ok, now over the half way mark there were some damn good down runs on the cards.  I took them with both hands and relished every minute of running down hill.  With just one more watering hole to encounter we were definitely on our way home now.  And that was a very big YAY from me!

At the 12km mark and water table there was an abundance of coke and water.  Again.  Taking one of the young volunteers aside I asked him to take a couple of cups of water and just pour them down my back.  He appeared a bit skeptical at first but after being reassured that this would definitely be the right thing to do, he proceeded to do so.  It was such a relief and actually spurred me on to finish the 15km Firgrove Challenge.  Not only was a soaked to the bone, I was as cool as a cucumber and loving every minute of it.  Our Sonja crossed the finish line and came in with an extremely respectful time of just 01h31.    Paula at 01h41, Mariana 01h45, Mandy 01h46, Theulice 01h47, Gill 01h49 and Christa 02h05.  I’ve only included the abovementioned runners because that’s who I travelled with.  Bruce has already put the results on FB of all West Coasters.

Our WCAC gazebo could be seen from the finish line and after downing yet more coke, yes more coke, I made my way over to club mates and Bruce who was doing a damn fine job of chopping up that huge watermelon.  Paula had been kind enough to bring along a cooler bag filled with flavoured milk’s and no prizes for guessing what Paula brought me!  Thank you Christa for driving us though.  Thank you Mariana for collecting our race numbers from Tygervalley.  Thank you Spartan Harriers for your well organized race.

Last year I crossed the finish line at 01h41.  This year 01h49.  So be it.  I finished. 

I would like to thank the Spartan Harriers for this race.  Really well organized.  Marshals were friendly, informative and plentiful.  Traffic officers ensured we crossed the main roads safely.  Well stocked water tables (other than 6km?)

Now just to finish off here, and probably a bone of contention with many many other runners, including me, what is all this about the temp number runners being disqualified because they ran in a branded Tshirt?  So, entry rules state the following on point 7.  Temporary licensed runners to wear plain clothing, no advertising BUT to actually disqualify a runner because he/she ran in a Tshirt with a logo bearing the name of a company that often sponsors us anyway just seems to be . . . . .  I don’t know?  I’m almost lost for words.  And here I’m certainly not the first to suggest this, if branded Tshirts are going to be the reason for disqualification, what about running shoes – socks – shorts – hats??  I do believe, in my humble opinion that this has been blown way out of proportion.  Running is a sport that one chooses to do and the choice of clothes should be taken the same way.  I actually had to read it twice because I thought it was an early April Fool’s joke?  The response from runners and the running community on social media FaceBook was honestly overwhelming.  I read up to 218 comments regarding this subject.  I view it as petty and very unreasonable.  Just my opinion.  I’m not here to offend, merely offering my opinion.  Keeps safe peeps – and be nice!  Gill x