The recent events at the Boston Marathon have left an indelible mark on the runner psyche. I witnessed this today as I joined my club mates from RAC and a few thousand other people to run the RAC 10km. For those of you who have run this route, you’ll know that it starts on an impossibly steep Jan Smuts Ave in Bordeaux outside Old Parktonians sports club. You continue up for about 1.5km with little respite. I started off fast up the impossible hill because I wanted a personal best for this run. I’ve been running lots of marathons and half marathons recently with my main aims being: don’t die and don’t come last. I had largely succeeded with those two goals. But now, with Comrades 2014 a real possibility for me, I have to lift my game in the speed department. I had decided that I could really push myself on this shorter 10km run. I’d forgotten how shitty the route is. I swear that I don’t know how we ended up where we started because we just seemed to be travelling uphill the entire way.
Last night I was listening to Foster the People’s song “Pumped up Kicks”. I considered what a cool running song that would be. All the other kids with the pumped up kicks. You better run baby run, outrun my gun. All the other kids with the pumped up kicks. You better run baby run, faster than my bullet. And so it was that I was humming this to myself as I rounded the top of the impossible Jan Smuts hill and started the descent along Republic Rd. All the friends caught up with me and overtook me on the downhill (as usual). My running buddy, Chrissie and Megan D chatted as they ran ahead of me. I walked a bit. Really hate down hills. As we reached the 2km marker, crackers went off ahead of us. I was acutely aware of how the entire group with which I was running slowed. We slowed, as if our clockwork suddenly began to wind down. A nervous disbelief murmured through the crowd and the chitter chatter stopped. It was eerie. More crackers. More crackers. I thought that this was pretty bad taste to have crackers going off randomly at a marshalling point. I’m all for festivities, but maybe crackers weren’t the best choice, considering the recent events in Boston.
The next thing I saw was Kumar (who is always waaaaay ahead of me in races) waving his arms and shouting for us to move out of the way. We were running on a piece of road which had a grass embankment next to it, so we poured into the ditch hurriedly. I screamed for people to get down and more people poured into the ditch, feeling horrified, but not knowing what was going on. The crackers were still going off and, although still not knowing what was happening, we knew were running into a very dangerous situation. I honestly had no idea what was going on. South Africans know all too well the sound of gun fire and so, as the reality dawned upon us, I became aware that a shoot out was in progress. What frightened me immediately was the realisation that my friend, Chrissie, had sped past me just shortly before and so she could be hurt. Obviously some sort of robbery had been intercepted by guards or other people with guns. The shooting died down and we were given the go ahead to carry on. I got up with my only intention being to see if I could find Chrissie. (What has subsequently occurred to me is that there were many people who didn’t bail into the ditch when Kumar told us to get down. I’m all for curiosity, but how dumb can you be to hear something like that, get told to get down and get out of the way and still stand staring in the hope that you can witness something exciting. For the love of everything, people! When a person shouts at you to get down when you’ve just heard what could be gunshots, just bloody well listen and get out of danger.) All of us chatted nervously, still unaware of what was going on, as we scrambled out of the slippery ditch. I started walking forward hurriedly, hoping to see Chrissie and Megan ahead. And there they were. I was incredibly relieved. Chrissie was not keen to go on, but the rest of us were confident that the danger had gone away. We started up again and continued on the ridiculously uphill route. As far as the news goes, no-one was injured in the shoot out. A gang of seven robbers stole money from a cash pickup van and highjacked a nearby vehicle in order to get away.
The rest of the route was largely uneventful, but today I met a very funny person. Funny, ha ha, not funny peculiar. Although…..she may also be very peculiar. I think she thinks I’m the peculiar one, however.Chrissie and Megan D had a few friends with them at the start. Chrissie, Megan D, Nats (I’m sure that’s not her full name, but because everyone introduced her as Nats, I’ll call her that until I know her real name), Megan H, Lizle and Claudia met me at the start because Chrissie had my race number with her. As it turned out, Claudia had been carrying my number around with her until I saw them. Thank you Claudia. You carried me. I hope I returned the favour. Just after the shoot out corner which was at the corner of William Nicol drive and Republic Rd, there was an abominable hill up William Nicol to the first water point at 3km. I happened alongside Claudia, walking up. I urged her to come along (it’s easier for me because I like abominable hills, it seems). So the two of us trudged up William Nicol and lost each other at the water point. Claudia must have passed me at some point because I happened upon her again up another hill. We chatted briefly. She’s hilarious. So am I, but she’s even more hilarious. I know! Can you imagine? Anyway. We got separated again somewhere and then she sidled up next to me when my legs went on strike on the only flat on the route. Something she said (she claims it was a voodoo-like threat to break my kneecaps) got my legs out of strike season and back running again, and we ambled along chatting. Then I ruined the friendship by saying that I saw a movie last week that I thought she would enjoy. (That wasn’t the part that ruined the friendship, this was!) Movie’s name is Seven Psychopaths. It’s hilarious. She ran right a bit and slowed down a bit, then claimed she was going to walk up the next hill. All of that would not necessarily have led me to believe that my words had ruined the friendship, but then she yelled at the man running next to me: “Watch out for her Mister. I’m just saying.” This making friends thing is just too complicated for me!
Claudia and I laughed about it afterwards. She laughed nervously. I laughed suspiciously. Then we all ate pancakes and drank coffee and a good time was had by all.
Hey! I almost forgot to tell you! I did run my personal best today even after lying in the ditch for a couple of minutes. On a very tough route, I ran my PB for a 10km. 1:08:02. Not one kilometre was over 7 minutes! I reckon the shootout creeped me out a bit….although, not as much as I creeped Claudia out….that I was too afraid to walk in case they were coming for me……mwahahahahahahaha
Yours in the love of running.