21 March is a public holiday here in South Africa and that is also the date of the Standerton Marathon. Standerton is a commercial and agricultural town about 2 hours drive south east from Johannesburg. Anette and I decided this was a good marathon to travel to on our day off.
We left home some time after 3AM to be sure we would be in time for the 6AM start. When we were about 40km from Standerton we started driving in the mist and this became thicker and thicker as we got closer to the town. We arrived early enough to relax while entering for the races. Anette ran the 5km while waiting for me to complete the marathon.
It was still very misty and quite cool when we walked to the start. I felt good and positive. My training is going well and I’ve been feeling good progress on my runs. My legs were well rested for this race.
Walking to the start.
This was a small race. Unlike the races we are used to in Johannesburg there weren’t many runners at the start. My guess is about 300 runners for the marathon, half marathon and 10km combined. Of these 300 it seemed as if most ran the half marathon.
Waiting for the start. Look at the drops caused by the mist.
There was a quick prayer and then we were on our way. This was my first road marathon in more than two years. I was quite excited about this although I do miss the trails sooo much…J
On our way!
The first 8 to 9km was run through the town and then we ran out into the country. This was an out and back route and it was the same for the 10km and the half marathon. I enjoyed this as I could see all the fast people running back. I was just past 3km when the 10km leader came running back already!
First few kilometers in the town.
Out into the country. Misty and great weather!
The mist stayed with us for most of the race. It was perfect running weather although there was not much to see because of the mist. The route is apparently quite scenic but I did not see this at all. There were plenty of Kosmos flowers around and that was beautiful!
Kosmos flowers everywhere!
Not many people ran the marathon and the small field spread out very quickly. With this and the mist there were no other runners in sight at times. I ran the whole 42.2km on my own.
Not many runners (or anything) to see.
The half marathon runners soon started appearing out of the mist and this was great to keep me busy.
The first half went quickly and before I knew it I had to turn around and head back to the finish. I was feeling good and comfortable. My eating and drinking strategy seems to be sorted out well. I felt very positive overall.
The way out to the turnaround point looked and felt slightly uphill. The way back to the finish looked and felt slightly uphill! This was strange and I decided it must be flat. J It was still misty and there was not much more to see during the second half.
Going back...road in the mist…the only view most of the way.
I was feeling strong and actually better and better as I approached 32km (20 miles). I felt comfortable and must say I am starting to feel all the Comrades training paying off. I am not a very good long distance runner on the road and any positives are very welcome. I think I was designed for the trails really.
Road is not my favorite running surface.
As I approached the town the mist started lifting a bit. With 8km to go I was still feeling very good. This made me very positive and I was able to keep my pace up. I was actually glad to get back into the town as there was at least a few things to see. A marathon out on a lonely road is a long way.
Back in town and the mist was lifting.
There were a few hills in the last 6km or so. The sun came out as well, just to make sure I didn’t feel finishing this marathon was easy. A marathon is never easy, but this was one of my best road marathons in a very long time. Not from a time perspective, but from a how I was feeling perspective.
Some sun and hills for the last few kilometers.
Soon I was back where we started and then into the finish. Not fast by all means, but feeling really very good. If this was a 50km I would have had a great run.
To the finish!
I met all my goals and probably a bit more because I felt so good when I finished. I was really not very tired. I know I am slow but finishing this marathon strong gave me hope for Comrades. I might just have a good up run this year.
Happy with a nice medal to show for it.
I’m glad I ran this marathon. Not much to see because of the mist, but it was a very well organized race. The water tables were fantastic with lots to eat and drink. I would recommend this race to anyone. I will be back again someday.
Have a great week everyone! I ran a half marathon yesterday and will post that report soon.