I am so excited to be writing this post! The last *real* post like this was in 2019. In 2020, I only ran three races before the pandemic hit and the rest of the year was filled with virtual challenges; in 2021, Botswana’s race calendar was empty, and I only participated in two virtual challenges. In the first quarter of 2022 we thought the year would be the same but then BOOM around March/April, races returned in full force! And for a year where I didn’t expect to race much, I’ve managed to run FIFTEEN! Below is a brief recap of the first eight races. Enjoy!
1 – Addo Ultra-Trail Marathon, 44km | 19 March. I ran my first Ultra-Trail Marathon in the Addo National Elephant Park in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It was the toughest challenge I’ve ever done, one that tested my physical and mental strength. As the terrain, landscape and flora transitioned beautifully over the 44km run, I also felt extremely privileged to be immersed in such splendour. Even in the struggle, there were many moments where I simply looked around in awe and thought, “I get to do this”. Somehow, I ran, walked and crawled my way to the finish in 9+ hours. When we travelled back in the open safari truck, I left with more than just the new shiny medal around my sunburnt neck – I left with incredible memories that I will forever cherish as well as life lessons that will guide me for years to come, the biggest one probably being that you always have one more step in you. Click here for race recap.
2 – Y-Care Race Walk, 15 km| 26 March. This was just a week after my ultra-trail, but I love participating in this race and felt it would also be great active recovery after my ultra. It is a strictly walking race held annually in various locations on the outskirts of Gaborone. This time we were in Rasesa and it was the first hike of its kind that I’ve done with my sister. It was a cool morning as it had rained overnight, and I loved the bonding experience with my sister.
3 – Spar Community Challenge Series, 10km | 30 April. The Spar Community Challenge Series was a 9-part running series with monthly runs from April until December. There was a leader board for each race (and series) with overall winners announced at the final race. There were also spot prizes and finisher medals at each event. The challenge was in support of the Gamodubu community about 25km from Gaborone. This being the first race I’d participated in Gaborone for a long while, I experienced a bit of social anxiety at the start but as I chatted with my friends Naema and Elisa and felt that familiar buzz of excitement in the air, I settled down and just thought “How wonderful that races are back!?” Click here for race recap.
4 – Spar Community Challenge Series, 10km | 07 May. Just a week later, we were at it again in the Spar Challenge’s second race. Although we started at the same place as the week before, the route was different – instead of running towards Phakalane, we headed onto the Airport Road, for an out and back, and mostly on trail! I ran with Tapiwa for the first 5km, and then pushed ahead. Around 7.5km, I spotted my friend Polelo with her husband and young son! They were doing the 5km course. I had a strong finish and felt great. Click here for race recap.
5 – Boitekanelo 15K Race | 21 May. Aside from some teething issues, I loved this inaugural race for several reasons. The route offered a truly Tlokweng experience allowing us to feel the pulse of this rapidly growing town. The 15K distance is not common even though many people consider it to be their favourite distance. There were several water-stops, the route was well-marked, and the volunteers created a fun vibe. I later learned that a house was donated to a family in Tlokweng in the closing ceremony. Although this event was organised to celebrate Boitekanelo’s 15 Year Anniversary I hope it becomes an annual event! Click here for race recap.
6 – Spar Community Challenge, 10km | 18 June. This race was set within the CBD which houses several Government Ministries that have outgrown the official Government Enclave on the other side of the road. There are also a number of parastatals, commercial banks and private companies as well as high-end hotels such as the Hilton and various popular restaurants. The CBD is also home to the tallest building in Gaborone – iTowers. We ran the length of the CBD, up and down some of the streets and back to where we started, and then repeated the loop to make the distance. We had an awesome time chatting on the run. Click here for race recap.
7 – Spar Women’s Challenge, 10km | 09 July. This race clashed with the MAP Fun Run, so I didn’t sign up for it. But when the MAP race was postponed to October, I nabbed a last-minute entry. I’m so grateful for this as I had the best time. The Lady Khama Charitable Trust, together with their partners, delivered a beautiful and well-organised race, combining trail and road, for a fun and challenging experience. I’ve been known to get lost on a few trails, but the painted green rocks, green markings on the trees, bright yellow cones and well-placed marshals meant there was never a chance of that happening here. There were also a number of water and fuel stops with cheerful and encouraging volunteers. For me, this race continues to earn its spot on the one-race-not-to-miss on Botswana’s race calendar! Click here for race recap.
8 – Orange Phikwe Half Marathon | 23 July. Started in 1985, this is the oldest marathon in Botswana, and when I began running in 2017, I put this on my bucket list. Well, it took me 5.5 years to #RunPhikwe, but I finally did! It was a great race and one of my highlights of the year. The route was incredible as it allowed us to see and feel the town. There were several marshals and police officers directing us and ensuring our seamless crossing at intersections. There were also many fuel stops with water, energy drinks and fruits on offer, as well as volunteers and spectators cheering us on and keeping our spirits high at all times! Click here for race recap.
Stay tuned for Part 2 where I share the remaining seven races. Looking back at the year is such a fulfilling experience – we waited so long for races to return, and I am so glad they did.
How many races did you do this year? What stands out as your favourite? And what was your most valuable lesson?
I’m joining the link-up, Runner’s Roundup with Mile By Mile, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs, and Running on Happy! Hop on over to their blogs and others and be inspired!