I started running in 2017 by challenging myself to 17 races that year. This year I’ve returned to how it had all began with a #20in20 Race Challenge. Botswana doesn’t have too many races (probably less than 20 a year) so I’ve been keeping a close ear to the ground to make sure I don’t miss any. My first race was the Y-Care Oodi-Mmamashia Walk Race. This is a strictly walking/hiking event so no running allowed but I’ve loved doing these kinds of events over the years. I did the sandy 30km Jwaneng Desert Walk in 2016 and 2017. In 2018, I did the 40km hike from Gaborone to Otse and last year I enjoyed the 30km hike through Oodi. This year I chose the 15km route (instead of 30km) as I needed something gentler on my legs given my long weekend runs. I had no real goals other than to have fun and collect my first medal of 2020!
In the early hours of race morning it started raining heavily and it got progressively worse. When our morning alarm sounded, we groggily muttered to each other that surely the race would be cancelled. But when I looked at my phone there were no messages. I then messaged Elisa asking if she had received a cancellation notification. No, she said! Reluctantly, we started getting ready. As we drove to Elisa’s house, our windscreen wipers swooshed violently from side to side as it continued to pour down. We were still convinced the race would be cancelled.
However, when we arrived at the Oodi Kgotla, we were shocked to find several cars already parked and many participants were fully dressed in their rain clothes, seemingly unperturbed by the rain. We finally accepted that rain or not, this race was happening so we hopped out of the car, put on our rain gear and made our way to the Starting Line.
There was a short greeting followed by a prayer and thankfully by the time the race began, the rain had somewhat subsided and remained that way for the duration of our race. The 15 and 30km walkers all set off at the same time and we made our way through Oodi village. The early morning rain meant the trail was extremely muddy and in parts difficult to navigate. Many of the walkers had hiking poles which made it easier for them to traverse the muddy sections.
I loved the walk through the quiet village and masimo (land for growing crops). Everything was really green with a splash of colour coming from the yellow and purple wild flowers.
Oodi Hill was a prominent feature for most of the walk and when we got quite close to it, we turned left onto a tarred road. We remained on this road for most of the walk. Last year, we spent a lot more time in the bush and I wonder if the race organisers had changed the route given the heavy night and morning rain to allow for a more walkable option.
Somewhere along this road we crossed a river but instead of continuing on the main road, we decided to cross the river using a narrow concrete bridge. With the river flowing quite fast, we actually felt dizzy going across! But the photos made it worth the trouble 🙂
We continued on our way until we reached our first (and only) water stop. At this point, the 15km walkers were told to turn back and the 30km walkers continued on their way! I must admit I was slightly envious of the 30km walkers but quickly remembering we had taken 6 hours to complete the walk last year, I was also relieved that we would be done in half that time.
It was an out and back so the route back wasn’t too different. The overall mileage was 16.45 km. As last year, we were greeted by the Kgosi (Chief) upon our return which was a lovely touch. We were happy to have secured our first medal of the year in a somewhat relaxed fashion.
We stuck around for a little bit and noticed a health station taking blood pressure and glucose readings. I thought that was a great add-on to the event and a reminder of how important these health checks are. When you lead a fit and active lifestyle it’s often easy to assume that all is well when it fact we may be some underlying health issues that need to be addressed. Thankfully, my BP and glucose readings were in the normal range.
After a somewhat reluctant start to the race, we ended up having such a lovely morning and I was really glad to have participated in this event. Aside from my momentary feeling of #FOMO of those who were doing 30km, I was happy we had chosen 15km. Great company and conversation while getting some exercise done. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Have you done a strictly walking event before? Do you incorporate walking as part of your fitness routine? Do you do regular health checks? For my marathoner readers, did you do specific health tests before your first Marathon? Let me know in the comments!