“…So it’s not such a big race then?” Meryl said. “Well it’s bigger than a half-marathon (21.1km) race…” I replied. “But it’s not as far as a marathon (42.2km)” she returned. “Yeah that’s true…”
The 27km race that I ran in Port Alfred on Saturday was nonetheless special. I have run countless half-marathons, but only a handful longer than that distance. They are obviously tougher. You have to apply a bit of strategy, that is to say run slower than you would in a shorter race so that you will have enough ‘gas in the tank’ to get to the end. That is what what was so special about this Kowie Striders race on Saturday, 2hrs 8mins over that distance translates to 4min 46secs/km which is almost as fast as I have ever run a 10, 15, or 21.1km race before, I was super pleased with myself. I had a fair amount of PRD (post race discomfort 😛 ) for the rest of the day, particularly my left Achilles heel but nothing could dampen my mood after that effort. I am trying to condition myself towards a roughly 5min/km marathon, feeling optimistic…
I had left PE at about 4am that morning, and drove about 2 hours to get to the little town of Bathurst. I got a little bit lost in the ‘outskirts’ of said town (with a GPS mind you!) but eventually found myself at The Big Pineapple at about 6.30am, roughly an hour before the race was due to start.
No you didn’t read wrong the place is actually called the Big Pineapple :-P. The Eastern Cape is South Africa’s largest producer of pineapples, mostly out of Bathurst.
We ran away from this oversized fruit along a 27km route that was mostly a dirt road. The last 3 or 4 km had us arriving in Port Alfred proper, running alongside the Kowie river. There were groups of people sitting in groups on blankets all along the banks of the river, watching the Rhodes University boat races that day. It was an awesome atmosphere to run through, ending the race at the Port Alfred Country club.
I had never been to Port Alfred before, and I was pleasantly surprised to find it is a picturesque little place. After I had freshened up I did the touristy thing and wandered around a little, ending up on Wharf street.
Having run for 2 hours I was in ‘calorie credit’ as my friend Bennie puts it 🙂 and I had lunch at Frank’s on the wharf. This is a cosy little tucked away joint that you have to walk through a little alley to get to. You don’t have a view of the river while you’re in there but it is a quiet little place with a couple of craft shops surrounding a clearing with a little fountain in the middle. Good for a few moments of blogging 😉
Someone from my running club had kindly driven my car to Port Alfred and once I was done I drove back to PE in the early afternoon.