by Sandy Mullins
A marathon is a marathon – its 42.2k’s, but some marathons are more enjoyable and bearable than others. That’s how I feel about the Maritzburg City Marathon. I have done it every year for the last 7 years, and with a slight change of course every now and again, it is my favourite. It is well organised and the route is pleasant.
This year, we drove up to Pietermaritzburg before the sparrows were even up! Four of us in my car very quiet contemplating the task ahead of us. The venue was the casino/race course and we got there in time to join the queue of other athletes trying to find a parking. It was a bit chaotic, with many runners having to make a plan to park and run to the start.
We made our way to the start, and there were 1000’s of runners/walkers waiting, packed like sardines. One of my pet hates is when runners try squeeze forward in an already jammed stream of bodies. The fact that it was a mat to mat finish didn’t bother these gold hopefuls! After a speech or two, the anthem, the canon went off (one can never be prepared for that nerve shattering boom!).
The blanket of athletes eventually surged forward and we ran in and around the city, past the town hall which always gives me goose bumps reminding me of Comrades. Out into the suburbs and around to Oribi airport, Scotsville, through school grounds and back towards the casino… for lap two! There is always the temptation with a double lapper to turn in, but onwards we go, the sea of bodies having ebbed off to those now hoping to qualify for the big C and Two Oceans. I never seem to learn when it comes to strategy and I felt good in the first lap thinking I could keep up my normal pace for the entire 42k’s. Wrong! Though I was okay with a few minor irritations, I found myself slowing down rather than maintaining the pace. So my time that I had set was not to be, but again I was happy with the fact that I could be on the road, and accepted the time as fait accompli.
To cross the finish line is a satisfying experience. No matter how your legs are screaming at you, to see the cheering crowds and fellow mates at the end is worth it. No matter what distance you set yourself, be it a 10k, 21, marathon or an ultra, to achieve your goal is something no one can take away from you!