Incoming from Melinda, one half of the
comedy charity duo that is the Running Doulas.
It’s a brief account of their weekend away in Knysna and their experience of the dreaded Knysna Half:
The Running Doulas got off to a somewhat unfortunate start. Unhelpfully, disaster struck the day before the race, when I woke up with the beginnings of a cold. This led to a stressful day of indecisiveness before eventually agreeing to leave the decision to a doctor in Plett. After initially suggesting I decide based on how I felt on race day (which I naturally interpreted as ‘full steam ahead’), the GP called back having consulted another physician, and told me unequivocally not to run. Nothing like being banned from doing something to bring out the pig-headed in me! Decision made.
Race day arrived in a cold, dark and early fashion. An hour-long wait for taxis was followed by a hair-raising taxi journey up to a freezing cold, mid-forest start. We barely noticed. Wrapped in bin bags and Jet blankets, we joined the thousands of nervous runners lined up and waiting. A delayed kick off does nothing for the already frayed nerves, but happily four months of training and plenty of terrified projecting all evaporated as the Running Doulas headed off into the forest for our first ever half marathon.
The first 3kms of the race were mostly uphill. The next ‘undulating’ section could better be described as, um, uphill. The views were spectacular which almost made up for the pain. Almost. And just when the relentless uphill came to an end, the route led to the longest steepest downhill I’ve ever had the misfortune of encountering. Many runners walked it. Others ran it backwards or sideways in the interest of using different muscles. All of us cursed it. And then possibly the cruelest part of the race – on finally reaching the last flat 6km section, the route passed under a bridge before leading us to stairs. Stairs! I’d just run 15km. I very nearly sat down and sobbed.
Kim and I both struggled through the last few kilometres on exhausted legs to cross the finish line in under 3 hours. So enormous was our delight that you’d be forgiven for thinking we’d finished in the medals. There were hugs, cheers and probably unsurprisingly, tears.
Without a doubt, it was the support that carried us through the hardest parts of a tough course. Donations are still coming in but it looks like we’ll raise at least R27000, nearly double of original target. To all who supported either by donating or spreading the word – thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You’ve genuinely made a difference.
My favourite bit was when they put stairs in the route after 15km. That’s like someone throwing broken glass into the long jump pit from the 8m mark onwards. “Congratulations on your fantastic achievement in getting this far. Now, in recognition of your efforts, we’re going to scar you. Permanently.” (a bit like this)
But I think that the real takeaway message from this is that fat figure in the last paragraph: R27,000. I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and I reckon that equates to 180 MatPacks. And that’s going to make a huge difference to 180 new mothers and their children. We’ll try and get another follow-up later this year to see how that money has been spent.
Well done Melinda and Kim.
P.S. It’s never too late to donate™ – here are the banking details you require!
P.P.S. Corroboration of the chilly, delayed start story by PamieJane here.