Dawn 21 July 2013 and the day of my first ASA licensed race on the journey towards Durban arrived. Luckily the venue was fairly close to home, 20 kilometers on an easy road, so everyone in the house was afforded a tad bit more sleep than the average race morning would afford. This was not the only good news; the blustery wind of the previous evening died down and the morning looked bright, fresh, a little bit chilly but absolutely runable.
On the way to the venue I was hit with a sudden awareness, with a serious lack of recent racing exposure, I did not prepare my kit as well as I should have. I left my running jacket, my hat, as well as my Garmin Forerunner 305 at home. Maretha, my wife, solved the latter by giving me her iPhone, app’ed with Runkeeper, to run with. Pacing and documentation of the run sorted. Running cap, not really needed so that wasn’t too much of a hassle. The most severe result of my lack of preparation was the cold I had to face just before the start of the race. Unlike Orchards, where we live, Midrand was downright cold. Thus I stayed in the car till the very last moment.
Luckily the car was parked right at the start line so I could wait out the 15 minute starting delay in relative comfort. I did however have to face and brave the cold for the last two or three minutes, which made me even more grateful for the proximity of our parking spot to the start line.
Eventually the start gun sounded and we were off. Imagine the surprise that waited for me when we exchanged asphalt for some serious dirt road running within the first kilometre. Most of my training is done on asphalt and I am still a little hesitant to run extended distances on trail-like surfaces. What to do? I attentively made my way across the next three kilometers, knowing that if the surface continued like this it was going to be a long morning.
Of course the comments, questions, and remarks flowed right from the start. The most common: “Did you forget your shoes?” It seemed that I was indeed the only barefoot runner in a race of about 1200 runners. After the race I met two guys that ran in minimals, but no other barefoot runner surfaced.
Luckily the surface changed from dirt road covered with loose rocks to interlocking paving, a stretch of raw concrete, and a few stretches of lawn. With the change of surface, the good company of fellow runners, and a few conversations on the benefits of barefoot running, my pace picked up and the my average pace heading towards my goal for the day.
And then the race was over! At 11 kilometers the news started filtering through that the run was 2.2 kilometers short. This was a distinct disappointment as I really wanted to do a 15 kilometer run. However, with my son waiting at the finish line I decided to finish my run at the line on 12.8 kilometers, 1:09:01 after the start gun signaled the start of the race earlier the morning.
I ended the race in 266th position (out of 1235 runners) and completely content with my time and the way the morning went.
All in all an enjoyable race and morning, with one or two glitches, which once resolved, will result in a race I will definitely returned to in the future.