David is a writer, sometimes wit, mountain biker and keen half marathon runner. He's participated in eight consecutive Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathons (PB 1:43:31 in 2006), and really wanted to get his permanent Half number, but was injured last year and coerced to enter the Ultra Marathon this year. He's a former Features Editor of Sports Illustrated and Features Writer at Men's Health. Now, however, he prefers to do sport, rather than write about sport - except in this blog... where he will write about it.
The powers-that-be at the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon suggested a few of us get together and run the new Half Marathon route – mostly to put nervous first-timers at ease when they line up for the race this April, but also to punish those of use whose Ultra training was not quite up to scratch.
Armed with a box of Puma t-shirts (because if you’re going to get your friends to run a non-half marathon half marathon on a random Saturday, you best be armed with free stuff to bribe them) I called on a few running chums to join me.
Lo-and-behold, the promise of a lime-green Two Oceans T was more than enough graft to get at least 30 runners out of their beds at 5am this past Saturday.
Keen Old Mutual Two Oceans test runners line-up before the start of their pre-breakfast run.
Hill today, gone tomorrow
Most of you Half Marathon runners, seasoned Two Oceans Half and novices alike, will have noticed the extra hill that’s been added to the route. The idea for the test run was to see how the legs felt going up the famous Southern Cross Drive climb, having already conquered Wynberg Hill on Edinburgh Drive earlier on the course.
I can say, however, if you’ve done your training, the new route should be as enjoyable as previous incarnations.
The start remains the same, outside South African Breweries (if you’re looking to your left) or outside the Spur (if you’re looking to your right) on Newlands Main Road. From there, you head down (or up, depending on which way you prefer to hold a map) Main Road, turning right at Protea Road where the Engen garage sits.
Running down Protea Road, you’ll eventually hit the M3 in the guise of Edinburgh Drive (if you’ve done the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour, or know Cape Town’s roads, this is where the Shell garage is).
Turning left onto the M3, you’ll head up Edinburgh Drive towards Wynberg Hill (a familiar climb for Cycle Tour participants).
Work for your warm-up
The hill is not especially strenuous, but it is early in the race, so you may not be warmed up accordingly (depending on the pace you are trying to run). The climb is almost a ‘double-dip’. You head up from the Protea Rod turn-off, only for the hill to flatten out (kind of) abruptly.
Don’t be fooled. It’s not over yet. You hit the second dip about halfway up, before peaking at the top of Wynberg Hill – you’re now 4km into the race. It’s not a long climb, but it will get your legs and lungs into the game quickly.
Sight-see(ers) and tourists, if you look carefully to your left, you’ll notice the Jacques Kallis Oval at Wynberg Boys’ High School, a thrilling sight for any cricket lover.
From the 4km mark, you enjoy a reasonably long downhill stretch on the M3, +-2km (Blue Route). You can really open up going down here, and if you’re looking for a PB, your race will probably start now.
Home, sweet home
At around the 9km mark you’ll hit the Ladies Mile turn-off. This will mark your start to joining up with the old route. A word of notice: the day we ran the South Easter was pumping, so it was pretty tough going on the open M3 stretch. However, by April I don’t imagine there’ll be too much of an issue with Cape Town’s famous summer wind.
Once you’ve crossed over Constantia Road and run into Parish Road, it’s business as usual. Southern Cross Drive awaits, then Rhodes Drive, and onto the famously testing, gradually uphill finish to UCT.
The Half Marathon: so much fun that runners just smile and laugh all day. Great times lie ahead for you, dear runner...
21km. Done and dusted. Easy as that.
PS: word from the organisers is that this route, despite the extra climb, is actually faster than the old route. So maybe a few PBs might be scored in 2012… if you’ve been training hard, that is…