Well what a race, We drove down, it is 1600km, took our time stopping over enroute. We did a fast 6km on Thursday to get rid of travel stiffness. We went to the expo on Friday, driving the hilly part of the route on the way there , I hate expo's but the vibe is good and gets the adrenalin going at least.
Some friends joined us for lunch, they had fried fish and chips, liz and I had grilled fish and chips. I really do not enjoy greasy fried food anymore. I was too scared to try on my Tshirt, one cannot wear it if one does not finish the race. It was called cherry tomato, but is really orange..
The day of the race dawned and we caught the train to the start, that worked well, this was a recommendation from Malcolm Salida, the person we rented our accomodation from, he is a walker, and came in with us, his wife even picked us up and took us to the station, they were a great help to us. The first 4ks of the half and Ultra are the same, so we had to wait for the route to clear from the half before we strated at 6:25Am.
I was getting more nervous as we heard the 21 singing the national anthem, then off they went...
I bumped into a guy I have met at various races over the years, he claimed he was fitter than before, and would do a 6:30. I was dubious.
It took 4 minutes to cross the line, our races are all gun to gun, so it makes your average pace suffer for the first few kms. At the time I thought I was going too slow, I only really checked my watch at 3km, and my average was about 7:34 , which meant I was actually walking at or below 7:00/km, no wonder my shins were burning. I knew I had to finish around 7:25/km to get a medal. I was about 450m from the start so this also messes with your averages. At around 7km another novice latched onto me, all I know is his name was Andrew, it is good to have your name printed on your race numbers, but sometimes confusing when your name is called out so often. I was really near the back of the field, as I passed various traffic police they were talking about re-opening the road ...
My initial plan was to go as close to 7:00 /km till halfway and then deal with the hills. I also did not want to push too hard as I did not want to burn... When I got to the first slight up hill at around 20km I was at 7:10 and really worried about who I would have to give my Tshirt to. Then I see a sign, 1km ot the first cutoff at 28km, well that got my heart pounding.. I made it by 3minutes. That on the easy half of the race.
We then hit little chappies ( Chapmans Peak) , a hill around 2km long gaining around 100m, I decided to push the hill and poor old Andrew could not keep up, he had been my shadow since 7km, I never saw him again.I find it amazing how I seem to get stronger at this sort of distance into a race. Going up little chappies was great, then we descend about 50m only to climb about 150m over the next 3, on real chappies My Garmin decided not to save my race data so some guesing is required here, it \also did not give me my race time, but average was there. At the crest of 35km I passed the guy who said he was aiming for 6:30, he looked tired. From 35km we go back down to sea level from 250m up, over the next 4km , I found the road camber quite hard in this section, it took a toll on my hamstrings, so I did not push too hard. I went through the marathon mark in 5:09 which was pretty much on track, making the marathon cut off by a few minutes
The climb from 42k to 48km is about 200m. As we started climning I saw Malcolm ahead I got to within 20 m of him when he took off like a shot, I pushed quite hard but never saw him again, once again I made the cut off at the top by about 2 minutes. It was quite confusing as the announcer kept on contradicting where the actual cuttoff was.
As we levelled off for the push to the end, one guy , a veteran with 17 medals claimed we had the medals aoriudn our necks. I was quite harsh on him "it is not over till the fat lady sings" etc. Within a km he was vomiting on the side of the road, I did not see him again, I hope he finished but..
At 6km to go I passed Wilma, Malcolm's wife, she was shocked to see me, was I ahead of Malcolm?
The various spectators on the side of the road changed from it's tight to you will not make it you walk. With the adrenaline pumping hard I pushed hard up the last hill. As I entered the grass end section the crowd was going wild. I could not look at anyone, for fear of tripping on the grass which was pretty damaged from the 16000 half marathoners and the 7200 Ultra marathoners in front of me.
As I crossed the line I knew I deserved to wear the Tshirt, the medal felt really great around my neck, I had made it in 6:58:57, with 63 seconds to spare . I called it a lonely medal, thinking it would be my only one from this race. I have subsequently decided I will do this race again but, must seriously work on my speed. I need to the do the first half of this race much much faster.
I was surpised to find out that I must have passed Malcolm going up Constantia Nek, he finished 30 senond behind me.
What a race! What an experience! I have already startred planning my qualifier for next year.