This year I have been very selective with my race choices; unlike last year, I have focused more on quality than on quantity. BUT I must admit there is nothing that gets my heart pumping and my adrenaline rushing like a race! So when I saw Coach Nicola had scheduled a 10 km Long Run on the 26th August 2018, the same day as the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Athletics Club inaugural race in Mogoditshane, I jumped right in! Mogoditshane is a peri-urban town located in the Kweneng District of Botswana and borders the capital city, Gaborone. In the early hours of the morning, it only took us about 15 minutes to get to the BDF Stadium at the Sir Seretse Khama (SSK) Barracks.
Race Morning:We met the usual suspects just after 6 am and although we were nervous as we hadn’t raced in a while, we were still all smiles as we waited for the race to start.
There were over 400 runners for the 10 km route and close to 150 runners for the Half Marathon. There was also a 5 km Fun Run option. The Half Marathoners set off first and we followed shortly after. We had hoped for some military precision in terms of timing as it was an army event, but we ended up starting much later than expected.
The Race: Mogoditshane is a vibrant place and has a lot of character. As we ran through the streets, there were a lot more spectators and cheering than we are used to in Gaborone as well as a few curious goats on the side of the road. As we passed through some neighbourhoods, the smell of magwinya (fat cakes) frying in the pots wafted through the air. The town seemed so wide awake for a Saturday morning and there was a lot of hustle and bustle as we navigated combis and taxis along the Molepolole Road.
My goal for this race was to take it easy and to enjoy myself. So other than this, I didn’t set any real expectations and never intended to race this. When the gun went off, I started a bit faster than usual. I contemplated slowing down but then quickly decided to challenge myself and see how long I could maintain this faster pace. For the first 5 km, I did very well – my splits, min/km were 07:11/ 07:01/ 07:01/ 07:24 (incline) / 07:02. For the second half I slowed down a bit: 07:21/ 07:23/ 07:32/ 07:27/ 07:16 but as the course was long I managed 06:38 for the final 780 metres! I ran strong and was quite pleased that I decided to push myself a bit more than I had originally planned to.
My Time: As the course was long (10.78 km) my official time is not a true reflection of my actual 10 km performance – 1:18:09. When I look at my pace, 07:14, my 10 km time would be around, 1:12:22 which I am very happy with.
Once we were done, we waited for Ditiro and Elisa who were doing the Half Marathon. Sadly, Ditiro got injured around the 15 km point but I’m so proud that he bravely pushed through to the finish. He has been advised to take a break from running for awhile and he seems only too happy to have an excuse to hop on his bike more often!
After the Race: As is becoming tradition after our races, we went for breakfast. We chose Lorraine’s Ntlo-Maison, a quaint little French restaurant in town as they were having a Spring-themed Brunch. The vintage bikes were a great touch! It was such a beautiful morning and after our race, we were only too happy to tuck into all the goodies on offer.
Things I Loved About The Race: The vibe and atmosphere were awesome. There was also something quite special about being in the Army Barracks at the hospitality of our soldiers. The route was interesting with different sights and sounds, and some gentle ups and downs. l think also not knowing the area very well helped keep us on our toes.
Things To Improve: The registration/ payment process was quite old-fashioned and an online process should be considered for next year. Also, the number of combis at that time of day means that there needs to be better traffic control especially in the second half of the race where we are on the main road. Finally, my usual complaint – we need to start on time! It gets too hot and the longer we wait, the worse it gets. But otherwise, it was overall a good first effort for an inaugural race.
I can’t end this post though without giving my heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the runner who collapsed on the 10 km course. He was rushed to hospital but sadly didn’t make it. I personally didn’t know him but what awful news and the last thing one expects to hear after a running event. I wish his family and friends strength, comfort and healing.