Where do I even begin to tell this story?! In January 2020, I started training for my first marathon. The pandemic happened, the race was cancelled. I thought about continuing to train and running the distance on the day but decided not to as I wanted the whole package – the vibe, the crowds, the medal. In November 2020, I was ready to train again for something big and put my sights on the Addo ultra-trail. I really struggled during training – my body and mind were all over the place and I almost felt a sense of relief when the race was postponed a few weeks from D-Day, with an offer to defer to 2022. I deferred. I then ran aimlessly for a few weeks before hitting a major slump. Six weeks in, I realised only a Big Hairy Goal would bring me back. I signed up for the Kazungula Bridge Marathon. Would it be third time lucky?
I started training in June and felt energized and enthusiastic and by the end of that month I’d run a total of 163.9km. After an easy June, July was a reminder that training for a marathon is serious business but I pulled through with 168.6km (my highest total for the year) with my longest run being 25km. Every time I sensed I was slipping, I found joy chasing other goals. For example, I completed the #RunEveryStreet project for a second neighbourhood – Peolwane.
I also lead a team of 15 runners in the She Runs Cardiff Summer Relay Event which was an amazing way to connect with others. Donning our blue, black and white colours, we passed a virtual baton to each other for 12 hours.
I also found happiness in the smaller things – catching the sunrise when I ran from Mokolodi home, chasing beautiful churches, temples and mosques, and enjoying art around town.
In August, my total was slightly less with 157.5 km, but this included two 30km runs – my furthest distance ever! The first time I ran 30km, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride – I just ran 30km. My body did this!! I am strong, powerful, amazing, fearless…
And then I collapsed… for a week! I think my body felt THIS was the marathon! The second time I took it slower and felt more comfortable when I was done… and didn’t have to take a week off!
In fact, I jumped straight to my annual #9X9 Spring Challenge – a 9 day running streak where I encourage runners to look for signs of spring all over town. Let’s press pause on this story, just for a moment, to admire the most magnificent purple bougainvillea I’ve ever seen! It sits majestically in one of the yards of a quiet, unassuming street in Central Gaborone.
It was during this Challenge, on the 7th September, that we got news the Kazungula Bridge Marathon had been postponed. It felt like such a shock, given just a couple of days prior to this, we had seen on social media that the merchandise had arrived. I always knew there was a possibility of a postponement or cancellation – we are living in a pandemic after all. I just didn’t see it coming at this stage. In fact, when the news came in, things were looking more positive – schools had re-opened, the alcohol ban was lifted, curfew time had been extended, and active cases were steadily declining. But of course the race organisers have more information than I do and it must have been extremely hard for them to make this call to postpone.
But after 15 weeks of training, I’m extremely disappointed. I always said I would run the marathon even if the event was postponed. But it’s easy to say that when you are sure your marathon will go ahead as planned, right? 😉 So the question is – do I run 42.2 km without the crowds, the race banners, the medal? Faced with this dilemma in March 2020, I said no. Faced with it again in March 2021, I said no. Now? My answer is… Yes. I will get up. I will lace up. I will run 42.2 km. It won’t be over the Kazungula Bridge but rather on the trusty streets of Gaborone. So, my friends, the show will go on – just minus the bells and whistles 😉
Have you run a marathon even when the race was postponed/ cancelled? Would you run 42.2km without a medal for your efforts?