Gary Kirsten qualifies for Two Oceans
In the next few days you should be receiving your official Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon magazine in your post box. Inside the magazine, South African cricket coach Gary Kirsten is featured, discussing his reasons for entering the Ultra Marathon. Kirsten, renowned for his stamina at the wicket during his playing days, will take up another lengthy stint for a good cause - this time on the road - at Easter.
As you may or may not know, however, the Proteas, and Kirsten, are busy touring in New Zealand, and they’ve been there long enough for Kirsten to miss all his local (Western Cape) qualifying marathons. So what did South Africa’s former premier opening batsman do? He qualified in New Zealand.
Easy as that. Or not quite, if a recent tweet by Protea speed merchant Dale Steyn is anything to go by. Steyn recently sent this tasty morsel into the twitterverse (@DaleSteyn62), (PS: this tweet is verbatim, so please excuse terrible text language, random CAPS and exclamation mark exuberance): “A quick congrats 2 @Gary_Kirsten @RobWalter17 and our physio Jacko, they drove thru the night ran a MARATHON and drove back 2night!!! Wow!!!”
Wow indeed. So what really happened? Well, being the former (ex) good journalist that I am, I managed to track Gary down for the details. And it turns out Steyn wasn’t exaggerating. “We finished the last ODI against New Zealand last Saturday night, around 22h30,” says Kirsten. “We then drove to the marathon destination which was four-and-a-half hours from Auckland.”
Kirsten and his crew then ran the marathon - The Bayleys Mountain to Surf Marathon in New Plymouth, which starts 460m above sea level at the gates of a national park and finishes at the Taranaki coast – got back in the car, and drove back to Auckland. Dedication to the cause or what?
“It was a pretty tiring day, with only one hour of sleep,” says Kirsten as if he’d just dribbled a ball down to third man for a lazy single, “but a great experience.” Kirsten’s marathon time was 3h52m43s on a course not dissimilar in profile to the Cango Marathon. “I found the last 5km really tough. We started the race with a 3km downhill and I think that affected me at the end. It was a good mental challenge, though.”
With a marathon and Two Oceans qualifier under his belt Kirsten, like his forward defensive, is not giving anything away when it comes to predicting his Two Oceans Ultra Marathon time. “I have no expectations on time other than to finish and enjoy it as much as possible. It is something I have always wanted to do.”
For a man who spent countless hours swatting cricket balls in all corners of the globe, Kirsten is still well aware of the challenge that lies ahead. “Spending all day in the middle and running a marathon are very different experiences. I will say this, though... running a marathon is definitely a harder physical challenge.”
*Gary Kirsten is running the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon in aid of the I AM WATER Trust. Read more about the Trust and Gary’s involvement in the race in your Two Oceans race magazine.