On Saturday, I participated in the inaugural Gaborone City Mayor’s Race. I chose the 10 km distance and after a very disorganised and rocky start to the day, it was such a brilliant experience! Here is the story of Number 11…
The Race: The hype around this race was amazing – the huge billboards, exciting social media posts, and several interviews with our charismatic mayor! However, we started getting a bit worried when we picked up our race packs and there was no information on start times. The promised timing chips also appeared to be missing. Around 22h00, a start time (06h00) was given on their Facebook Page. On this same post, we were also told that timing chips could be collected at 05h00 from the National Stadium (starting point). When we got to the race around 05h30, a huge crowd had gathered in the hall where timing chips were being handed out. After standing in the room for 30 minutes, we decided it was just not worth the hassle. We then went into the Stadium and started warming up. There was a great aerobics session with fantastic music, but I chose to take a nice slow jog around the stadium instead. We then made our way to the Start Line.
The Marathoners took off first and shortly afterwards at 07h10 we set off.
The Route: What a lovely route around Central Gaborone! We started at the National Stadium, ran onto Botswana Road, then headed to the flyover by the Bus Station, behind the CBD, right onto the flyover, through the Bull and Bush Lights, right at the Maru-A-Pula intersection, passed Gaborone Avani Hotel/ Golf Club and back to the Stadium.
My goals for this race were simple – this was a training run and I wanted a nice comfortable pace; I was hoping to do it in around 1:15/ 1:16 hours; and I wanted to run without my knee support. After my disastrous training run mid-week, I was also very keen to make sure I started out slow and then gradually increased my pace after the halfway mark. I managed to do exactly that – my splits (min/km) for kms 1 -4 were: 07:46/ 07:51/ 07:45/ 07:40. As I approached the 5 km mark I was feeling really strong (07:19 pace) and around the 5.6 km mark the best thing happened! My cousin Tapiwa who was at work in the CBD came out to cheer me on! My first ever mid-race supporter!
This gave me such a boost of energy and my splits for kms 6 – 8 were 07:12 (!)/ 07:24/ 07:30. With 2 km left, I started to feel a bit tired and my split for km 9 dropped to 07:42; but as the excitement started building again, I increased my pace as I headed towards the Stadium (last split: 07:16)! With 500 metres to go I spotted Polelo and Ditiro who were standing outside the Stadium’s entrance.
I then entered the Stadium for the last 400 metre stretch!
As I turned the bend, I took it up another notch and had a very solid sprint finish at the end… that wave of energy, excitement and happiness as I crossed the finish line was phenomenal. Another race in the bag!
My time: I ran the course in a comfortable 1:16:09 hours and claimed my 11th medal of the year.
Cons of the race:
- It was completely disorganised – most of the stores/ outlets that were listed as ticket sellers didn’t know anything about the race. Ditiro was buying our tickets and he had to see three people in Choppies before he found someone who knew something about the race. Polelo was sent from pillar to post, from JB Sports to Liquorama to the Shell in the Main Mall, and eventually got her tickets at Rail Park Choppies. The actual registration process was also lengthy.
- Information on start times provided too late.
- Chaotic timing chip collection process that left most of us without chips by the time the race started.
- A 70-minute delayed start to the race… hhmm…
- No toilet paper in the National Stadium toilets (but thankfully I had some toilet paper in the car!)
- No distance markers on the road.
Pros of the race:
- Running in the oldest part of our city was such a great feeling. It was a beautiful course. Polelo summed it up beautifully: “The race itself was fantastic! Great starting point; the National Stadium has such a fab vibe. Awesome route; love love love my city!”
- Although the race packs didn’t have much in them, they did have a route map and I was able to visualise exactly where I would be running.
- Hats off to the Botswana Police Service! They provided great support on the course ensuring that runners were given priority at all times. I overhead one police woman tell an impatient driver, “You can swear at me if you want, you just stay put!”
Would I do this race again?
Polelo’s answer is “Would definitely do it again” and Ditiro’s answer is, “I enjoyed the race and I will do it again. The GC Mayor’s Marathon has the potential to be the best race in Gaborone. They just need to get experienced race organisers to help them out”. My answer? I know the cons seems to outweigh the pros! I know there was complete chaos at the start… But my answer is YES. Are we crazy? Maybe… But there was something so special about this route. Something that stirred something deep inside of us. Something that really gave us a reason to be proud to call this city our very own. So yes, they get one more chance!