Monday, 26 March 2012

Nike Run Free | Run Jozi

On the 21st of March I participated in one of the most beautiful races imaginable to any human. Nike held their first ever Run Free race on African soil and I am proud to say I was part of the first 10 000 to complete the race in Africa.

Please note: I'm not a runner.

Saying that I trained for this race would be a lie and an insult to those who actually did train. For me it wasn't really a race, more like a tour of Johannesburg at night, on foot. But I told myself that I had to finish under 2 hours. I probably took two jogs before this run. Either way I know I'm fit-ish. I walk about three minutes to campus everyday and back. Then I walk on campus and I don't walk at snails pace. Some people think I walk too fast but I think they walk too slowly. Anyway, fitness was the least of my worries. Enjoying the race and taking back the streets is what I was concerned about and Nike made the whole experience so enjoyable.

While collecting our race packs you could see that everyone was full of excitement. Even the Nike Store Managers were with excited and encouraged me to come in the top 10 ... obviously they dont know me well.
Part of the race pack was free branding on our t-shirts. Well most people got their names I opted for song lyrics. The race is a run, as I'm sure you've gathered so I decided to brand my t-shirt with something related to running and being myself.

I'm on the right track baby I was born this way

-Born This Way, Lady Gaga

I love Lady G as you know and if you inteded on following me at the race you needed know that I'm on the right track.
Then the day of the race finally came. At three o'clock we left Pretoria for Johannesburg in what seemed like a family roadtrip with my brother, his girlfriend and my sister. We talked about everything. About Human Rights Day, Twitter, MetroFM, even tried to measure out 10kms. We had all agreed that the race had to be finished within 2 hours.

As we were approaching Midrand we saw that rain clouds were also approaching. I started feeling cold because for me rain = cold. A part of me wanted the race to be cancelled. We carried on driving only to arrive in Johannesburg and it was still raining. Luckily as soon as we got off the park and ride buses we were handed plastic rain coats. But the rain didn't dampen anyone's spirit.
Our plastic raincoats didn't keep us that warm but the spirit around us did. There was a stage, cameras galore and I managed to get myself interviewed and on television! It was a festival of neon and smiles all around. While most would spend their time stretching and getting themselves mentally prepared for the race decided to rather read the back of everyone's t-shirts and take place in the festivities.
Once we reached six o'clock we knew there was no going back and the excitement started to settle in for everyone. As we waited for the gun, we watched Run Free Run Jozi advertisements, sang the national anthem and watched a display of fireworks. Then we were off!
We watched the professional athletes sprint over the Nelson Mandela Bridge, then it was our turn! We ran over the bridge and after 2kms I realised that this wasn't Run Jozi, it was Climb Jozi. I've done a few 5kms races in my lifetime, none of them required climbing up hills and what seemed like mountains. Without the support of the Johannesburg-ers I would have never crossed the finish line.

At times I acted more like a celebrity than an athlete. Spectators came out of their flats cheering for us all and asking to shake our hands. The streets had come out for us all and without them, I would have taken longer to finish.

After an hour and 39 minutes, Lucia and I crossed the finish line. The feeling you get once you cross that line is unexplainable. It feels like you have just finished climbing Everest. Well in this case it did feel like we just finished Everest because those hills were just unbearable.

After spending an hour trying to find the rest of our group we had a bite to eat and went into the media house.
I was definitely not the fastest runner out there, but for an untrained runner I would like to think I did very well. One thing know for sure is that I was one of the proudest South Africans there! Without this race many people would have never walked the streets of Jozi at night. I would have never. Now that I have, I know that there is life out there. They circumstances may not be the same as ours but they can still leave their homes to come cheer for us and encourage us on.

It was a beautiful race and I would like to thank Nike for finally bringing the race to South Africa.

See you all there next year!!

Spot me and my family at 0:14


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