Sunday morning is reserved for a weekend long run. Generally, more than 20 km, followed by coffee and conversation about which hill was the toughest.
This Sunday was a special run as it was the Pirates Half Marathon over Northcliff Hill. “Over The Mountain”, as the Pirates runners call it. It is 14km of climbing and then a scramble down the mine shaft for the last 7km back to Pirates club in Greenside to get in the queue for a well-earned cold draught.
The Pirates Half Marathon is a celebration of community!
Runners turn out in their club colours to challenge themselves over the biggest hills in Johannesburg. Kilometre 10 is a monster. It consists of 78 metres of elevation gain, and that is after completing kilometre 9 that has 42 metres of elevation gain.
I passed one runner who was grumbling, “this wasn’t advertised in the brochure”.
The Tyrone Harriers, that’s my running community, were out in full force. It was so cool to see the familiar salmon-coloured shirts charging up the hills. They are easy to spot; they are running faster than anyone else.
As a precaution against the dreaded lurgy that has prevented us from engaging in these fabulous group activities for so long, there was a rolling start. Other than that, it was like being back in the good old days. You know, those ancient BC days. Before Covid.
After the run, as I sipped my draught, I couldn’t help but scroll through my Strava feed and see runner after runner celebrating a glorious run. That matched with what I saw going on around me. A beautiful morning out, runners racing again, discussions about race times and when we last saw all those around us looking so happy. This is what “normal” once looked like. Could it be that we are back to that at last?
The chalkboard sign in the picture (courtesy of Paolo, a fellow Tyrone Harrier) precisely captures the sentiment of our times. The top of the hill, at the water tower, really does appear to be close. In reality, there are still several kilometres of climbing ahead.
I feel like the Pirates run this weekend may have been the equivalent of the chalkboard sign in relation to the top of the hill. It is the appearance that life may be returning to normal. However, many are invested in the fearmongering that perpetuate ongoing restrictions to everyday life. So maybe normal is further away than we think. Perhaps, never to be seen again?
Like a child in the back seat, travelling to the seaside on holiday, I am tempted to ask, “are we nearly there”?
Am I seeing the sea of normality through the hills, or is that an illusion of more draconian State intervention?
Either way, keep running and race harder. I’ll see you on the road.