The Two Oceans Marathon (56km) was windy, beautiful, very long and extremely fun.
It started out with a really, really early morning (4:30) to cope with the expected traffic and my buddy was doing the 21km which stated before the ultra. I recommend if you do the race get up early it was busy. Unfortunately I was stuck at the back in group E, thanks to my slow qualifying time at the Township Marathon. So it took me 2-3min to start moving at the pace I wanted to go.
The start was great with the announcer shouting out ‘5min to go, 4min to go’ and then the National Anthem right before the gun went off. It was quite dark with the bright lights of the film crews lighting our way though the start.
From previous experience I remembered the second half was very hilly, so I decided to take it easy on the flat. The sun came out and it started to get a little windy as we moved out of the city. About 10km in I met up with a fellow Pirate runner who asked, ‘What time are you aiming for?’ and immediately I realized I didn’t really have a proper plan. At the expo I grabbed pacing bands, sub 5h and a sub 6h which in 10km had actually become unreadable. I basically wanted to do a sub 6h to be on par for a Comrades Marathon qualifier, but I should have really put some more thought into race day pacing. Shocked into thinking about the race, I started increasing speed because I had actually been taking it too easy.
At about half way the hills started and at 2h54min I was on my way to getting a sub 6h. However I had two massive hills to get over, Chapmans Peak and Constantia Nek which scared me a little. I got potatoes full of salt at the water station which I think helped just before the hill. I also had more energade than coke though out the race. Chapmans was the hardest for me. Here we also had the powerful wind which was something I’ve never experienced before. One gust actually pushed me about a meter sideways. The wind was also a little haphazard, sometimes pushing me forwards and sometimes pushing me back.
I managed to pass the Old Mutual snake, a cloth covered snakelike frame with 6 runners inside, who were really struggling with the wind. I grabbed an ice-cream on Chapmans and struggled quite a bit with the downhill running, my legs are a little weak. 42.2km came up at 4h30min which was better than my qualifying time and meant I was still OK to do a sub 6h.
Constantia Nek the next big hill came up and I lost so much time here, it was hard, slow and long but I actually thought the Chapmans leg was worse even thought Constantia is higher. I managed to just get over the hill at 5h. With 10km to go I was really pushed for time to get the bronze medal, a sub 6h race. My legs were stuffed and the camber of the road had also messed with my ankles which were giving me hell. But I really needed to get the bronze medal at this stage and started running the downhill like a crazy man on broken legs. During this last 10km my mind was heavily tested, ‘I have to get the bronze’ vs ‘why am I doing this it hurts so bad’. The support into the finish was awesome, people shouting about the 6h bronze cut-off and through sheer will power I managed the last 10km in 56min38s to get my bronze medal! Most of the people I know in my club came in between 5h30 and 6h. I am really proud of my bronze medal and would have been a little pissed off if I got the blue medal 6h - 7h.
A really painful walk down back to the car, a shower and my friend and I went out for a meal. Here I had my victory beer and yes I wore the t-shirt the whole day! My phone only lasted 40km so I just have a link to the route below.