All the water in the Oceans
When I told my running partner (four Two Oceans Ultras, three Comrades) that I intended to enter Comrades next year he politely replied that if I so much as enter the Comrades URL into my web browser he’ll break my legs.
Noting the concern on my face he pointed out that every first attempt of any event I’ve done has resulted in extreme weather conditions on the same day. Laughing off his lunacy he recounted for my memory; my first Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour – extreme winds that bowled over cyclists and lifted portaloos into the air, my first triathlon – extreme heat, my first multi-day stage race – flooding and gales, my first marathon – extreme heat and delayed trains, and my first Two Oceans Ultra – rain that would have humbled Noah and his all-purpose, weather-proof Ark. (I won’t even tell you what happened the first time I… well, you know… ).
“I enjoy my Comrades runs,” he continued. “If you do it for the first time next year it’s likely to rain frogs and lava, and make a complete mess of my weekend.” I think he’s being paranoid, but he certainly has a point about the wild conditions I’ve experienced on various race days, conditions that have, now that I think about it, ensure that I always come back for more.
Once is enough
Upon finishing the Two Oceans Ultra (my first) this year all I wanted was a warm bath and a cold beer, because nothing warms the heart like that first post-race brew. The thought of participating again didn’t even cross my mind. One and done was my philosophy going into the race, and nothing was going to change that. But then I remembered saying the same about the Cycle Tour. “I’ll just do it once and that’ll be me”. Naturally, I’ve done it every year since those blasted gales forced people to pedal down Chapman’s Peak.
Oceans is no different. After mulling it over for a few months, and eventually picking out my muddied running shoes from the garden shed, I realised I needed to run the race under blue skies with happy crowds cheering me on (though the support of the damp desperado spectators this year was life-saving). I need to stumble over the finish line in bright sunshine and relax on the UCT fields with a beer in my hand, rather than ‘race’ home towards a change of clothes.
Once is not enough
That’s the beauty of an event like the Two Oceans. Although it happens on the same route, at the same time of year, often with the same people taking part, it’s always different; the atmosphere, the challenge and the experience. That’s why you can never do ‘just the one’.
On race day this year all I wanted to do was get out of the rain. I enjoyed my time out there. I’m glad I ran (finally, after eight Half Marathons). But now I want to do the ‘postcard’ race, the event that takes place on a sunny Saturday with glistening oceans as the backdrop. I want to do a ‘different’ Two Oceans.
My pal will be relieved too, because now he knows the weather can’t be any worse than last year. As for Comrades. Well, he may have to skip 2013. And the rest of you have been warned.