In 2017 I set an ambitious goal of running 17 races in the year. I was a complete beginner but by the time I got to the end of the year I didn’t feel like such a fraud any more! However, end-of-year deadlines, Christmas madness, New Year chaos, a stint with malaria and work travel meant I never got round to sharing my last two race recaps! So here goes – the story of Number 16…
Road Trip: As I approached the end of my 17 Race Challenge, I was becoming acutely aware that I was running out of races in the Gaborone area so I was forced to look further afield. As luck would have it I found the Ga-Maila Race scheduled for 19 November in Kanye, a week after I had run my 15th race. Kanye is an urban village located 83 km from the capital and is the administrative centre of the Southern District. In terms of topography, it is very different from flat Gaborone as it “lies on a series of hills which form a natural protective barrier against the sands of the Kalahari Desert”. It is a picturesque place and more significantly it is my husband Ditiro’s home village. Also joining us on this adventure were Elisa and Tapiwa. We set off around 15h30 on Saturday and enjoyed a lovely and chatty drive to Kanye. We arrived around 17h00 and headed straight to the start venue to get our numbers. We then drove to our place of accommodation, Motse Lodge, and shortly afterwards went to Makgodumo Dam to see where Ditiro spent many weekends growing up.
We then set off in search of food! This is where it got very interesting for us “big city” dwellers! The only eating place we knew was shut for the day and after asking around we found there were no decent restaurants open on a Saturday evening…
So… Plan B! Remembering that we had a stove in our units, we found a grocery store and bought some cans of tuna, mayonnaise, potatoes and some vegetables. After supper, we went straight to bed. It wasn’t the most restful of nights as there was a High School Leavers Function at the lodge which went into the early hours of the morning. In fact, when we set off for the race, we found some revellers still at it!
Race Morning: If I remember correctly, we were told the race would start at 05h30. But when we arrived it was deathly quiet so we stayed in the car for quite some time. Slowly, people started arriving and once we had a bit of a crowd (very small though – we can’t have been more than 60) we started warming up. We then hunted for a toilet but the one we found was temporarily out of order so we ended up squatting behind some bushes! All of a sudden, all marathoners, half marathoners and 10 km runners were called to the start line and we were given detailed directions for the different courses. Given that we were not from the area, the directions were not much use! At that point Ditiro was still undecided about whether he would run his own race or with me, but I quickly turned to him and whispered, “I am not running this alone”. With such a small crowd I knew I would be bringing up the rear so having my personal local guide made me feel a lot more comfortable.
The Race: We set off at 06h49 (so much for the 05h30 start!) and I had the most amazing start to a race. Knowing that Kanye was very hilly I was nervous, but the first 5 km were a breeze! I set off much quicker than usual but was really comfortable simply admiring the beautiful scenery. My splits (min/km) for kms 1 – 5 tell the story quite well: 07:01/ 07:02/ 07:08/ 07:15/ 07:25. It was lovely having Ditiro with me as he shared great tales of places we were passing – the ever dusty showground and the Kgwakgwe manganese mine tailings; King George V Hall where Ditiro went to his first science fair and Fairways, which was only one of two grocery stores in Kanye at the time. It was great to see him thrown back in time to his childhood. I am glad he ran with me. And then in those peaceful moments, I dared to dream, I dared to imagine the possibility that I could equal the 1:08:02 PB I had set in Palapye… But then the infamous hills arrived and things got tough, really tough… remember my Soweto Race? Yeah, things got Soweto tough!
My beautiful pace dropped drastically in kms 6 – 8 (min/km): 08:20/ 08:16/ 09:06). Ditiro
forced encouraged me to run up the first incline but when he wanted me to do it again I snapped back, “No, I am walking – my race, remember?!” Yes, things got a bit tense, LOL! But things slowly eased off again and I gained strength for what I thought was the last 2 km, with my splits hitting 07:29/ 07:13. Unfortunately, the course was a kilometre too long, so I recorded a final split of 07:45 for the 11th km. For once I couldn’t care less about the course being long. I was just glad it was all over. There was very little fanfare as I crossed the invisible finish line so I was grateful for the cheers from Elisa and Tapiwa who had finished earlier!
My time: I ran the 11.06 km course in 1:24:37 (07:38 pace). That would have been approximately a 1:16 time for the 10 km. But all I really cared about at this time was that Number 16 was in the bag and my last race was so close I could almost touch it! 🙂
After the Race: The medals were not ready when we finished the race! So we decided to go back to the lodge, have a shower, check out and then return to get them later. It actually worked out quite nicely as we got to see some of the sights of Kanye and even stopped at the side of the road like “real tourists” to take some selfies and scenery photos.
Once we got back to the venue, we claimed the bling we train and run for! 🙂
On the way out, we stopped for brunch at Ko Gae Cafe and had some lovely traditional food! My craving for seswaa (pounded meat) was satisfied!
Would I do this race again? As disorganised as this race was – late start, no working toilets, no clear direction markings, too long, delayed medals… I would do it all over again, just for that beautifully blue sky, peaceful panoramic views, rolling hills and Ditiro’s smile as he was swept over by happy childhood memories.