Recap on Nelson Mandela Relay Race

Having never done a relay race, besides the ones we use to do as kids at school sports day, I didn’t really know what to expect. Well, I should have had low expectations. There were over 18 000 people racing, split across 5 legs and a fun run. It was debaucherous, and as my team termed it from the onset, a complete dog show.

My team of 10 bubbly, lively, fun girls met up before the race at 6.45 in the morning. I live further away from the others, so it was a 5.30am wake up for me. We were put into pairs of two and split across the 5 legs. I ran with my sister in law in leg 2. I was a helluva nervous, the expectation was that we would run relatively fast and finish fast. In the end, thankfully, all 5 groups ran about the same time. If you were looking for a best time, this was not the race to enter.

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Without further ranting, here is the recap:

Distance: The total distance was 67km, in the spirit of Mandela day. Each team of two ran 6.7km.

Weather Conditions: Obviously when we arrived it was pretty cold, but during our run at about 9am it warmed up, and by the time the last group came in at about 1pm, it was about 23C. I actually caught a bit of a sunburn!

Parking/Traffic: A.dog.show. No really, it was a nightmare! They had field parking, but that closed at 7.30am. Due to traffic on the road, we didn’t make cutoff. And thankfully so! Because when we were leaving, the queues of cars backed up trying to get out of said parking, were just stuck in a stand still. We were thankful that we did not get stuck in that. My sister in law has an SUV, so we ramped a bit of off road and parked on the side of the route/road, about 1.5km from the start. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the walk. What I do mind is the lack of police/traffic control. Cars taking a 1 lane road and making it 3 lanes. Impatient drivers, almost driving over runners only to get a car or two ahead. It was terrible! And so easily could have been avoided.

Event Organisation: It was in the words of Heath Ledger in “A Knight’s Tale” – the event was weighed, measured and found wanting. Terrible! It was so poorly managed, the start was delayed by nearly 40minutes.

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The first group ran with a baton, and were to hand over the baton to the next group at the finish, and so on, for each group. We were put into pens to wait for the next group, which quite honestly was just short of a stampede. People pushing and shoving, with runners who had finished desperately trying to find their team mates in the next leg to pass it on.

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Water Stations: only 2 water stations, with only water. When you have been hanging about waiting to hit the road, some coke or an energy drink at the fueling station would have been greatly appreciated!

Marshalls: As previously mentioned, poorly managed, there definitely needed to be more control at the start, guiding people in the hand over baton stage. On the road, there were some great marshalls though.

Medals: nice medal, and a goody bag with a bag and tshirt. Would have like to have more emphasis on Mandela, being the first year after his death. And he could have been on the shirt and medal, but wasn’t. A bit awkward since the race was done in his honour. But by then I was a tad over the whole day and a bit grumpy.

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Vibe on the road: Pushing, shoving and cramped pens at the start, it was nice to get on the road and away from the masses. The route was hills for first 3km, and a gentle downhill to the finish. I had a bad run with my calves giving me trouble at the first hill. I made up for it sprinting down the down hills. My time was average.

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There wasn’t much camaraderie on the road, and I think everyone just wanted to get it done and finished. Like a bad day at the office. What made it a great vibe was my team. I only knew my sister in law, but in the end I made new friends. We had plenty of laughs and it made the admin of the day bearable to meet some nice, genuine girls. A few of us are going to meet up again and run other races.

Would I do this relay again? Probably not. Have you ever had a bad run or race?

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