This past weekend I ran the Striders 32km (20 mile) race in Springs, east of Johannesburg. This is always a very well organized race and I found it the same this year. Even though there was a very big marathon on the same day, the turnout for the race was good. There is a 15km race as well and I think this attracted quite a lot of people.
Anette...wife, supporter, motivator and best friend. Love her!!!
I entered early in the year so number pickup was quick and easy. Anette accompanied me for support and also to do the 5km run. I always appreciate her support and enthusiasm. She motivates me a great lot!
The start was at 6AM and it was one of the cooler mornings we've had for a while. This time of the year everyone is in great spirit at the races. All the talk is about Comrades, Comrades training and when/where will you qualifying?
Waiting for the start.
This was a long training run for me. I've done a few on my own in the past weeks and was ready to do this one in a race. I treated it as a sort of dress rehearsal for my marathon on 21 March. The start of the race was smooth and relaxed. In fact, standing at the start my heart rate was 65 and I thought that was quite good.
On our way! Autumn is in the air...
The race is a double lapper with the 15km runners splitting off just before the 15km mark. Springs is flat so the course is also flat and fast. The first 5km is mainly downhill and you need to be careful not to go out too fast or get sucked into the pace of the 15km runners. Luckily I’m a slow starter by nature and I just did my usual thing. Being an ultra runner certainly teaches you to pace yourself well.
1st water point
I ran very comfortably and enjoyed being in the race. The route was exactly the same as previous years so I knew what to expect. I did take longer than usual to find my groove though. Usually I start feeling my best after about 7km. This time it only happened after 12km. This wasn’t too bad as the first lap was almost done by then.
Cool weather on the first lap.
My first lap went very quickly and I was feeling really good as I went through halfway at 16km. I ran alone the whole way although many runners chatted to me along the way. One thing I love about running is that I am always joined by people with similar abilities to mine along the way. It is as if we all connect and relate without saying a word.
13km on the bridge. Only real hill on the route.
I went through the half marathon mark feeling very good and almost as if I’ve just started running. This made me very positive and gives me motivation to carry on training the way I am. There is progress for sure! Before I knew it I was counting down single digits and I knew by the way I was feeling I would carry on to finish feeling well. The cooler weather certainly helped a lot.
Sign at 18km - loved it!
At 27km I started feeling the running for the first time. Nothing serious, but I could feel I’ve been running for some time now. We tend to forget that running 32km (20miles) is no walk in the park. It might not be a marathon or ultra, but it is still a long way to run. I see myself as privileged to be able to do this distance with ease.
Lap 2 and about 27km done. 5k to go!
On the second lap I could see there were a lot less people at the race because of the big marathon on the same day. We were quite far apart in some places. The local school brass band was still playing on lap 2 and cheering us on and all the runners showed their appreciation.
Runners spread out quite far on lap 2.
Local school band still playing...awesome!
The last water point was at 29km and I was feeling good enough to just take some water, not feeling a need for coke or anything else. This was a confidence booster for sure!
Over the bridge one more time.
I remembered when I ran here 3 years ago it was very warm and I was feeling tired, sick and nauseous the last 7km. This year I was feeling great! I even stopped to look at the trains in the last kilometer. I’m a train and model train fanatic/geek and love seeing the real thing.
Train spotting with 1km to go.
Then it was time for the last kilometer to the finish. Anette was waiting for me where we turned into the sports grounds and she says I was looking strong and comfortable. That is what my goal was. To finish strong and comfortable. Adding 10km to this for my marathon on 21 March is very doable.
Over the finish for a good, solid run.
All in all a very good race. Well organized and no complaints from my side. A pity they shared the date with one of the most popular marathons (Vaal Marathon) in South Africa. The Striders 32km deservers huge numbers as they’ve had for many. many years. If possible I will always be back at the Striders.
Another finish, another medal.