By: Mary O’Gorman
I took part in the 10km walk at the 100 year centenary celebration Mandela Marathon this year. It was the biggest event I have competed in so far as there were 24 000 entrants in the distances – 42kms, 21kms and 10kms combined.
From the very start, the message spread that it was a special race. There were posters in the streets and radio announcements in the build up to race day which made the race seem very significant. At the race pack collections, there were huge posters with pictures and quotes from Mandela and clips of his speeches were being played.
Because of the vast number of entrants, there were challenges caused by having to queue for everything but the atmosphere of the race made up for that. Waiting in that huge crowd at the start was quite fun as Jaluka music was being played and everyone started ‘dancing’ on the spot to the music. When we all sang the National anthem, it was emotional and some even shed a tear.
The stream of luminous race T-shirts during the race were visible for miles as far as the eye could see on the winding country roads. The scenery is spectacular with challenging up-hills most of the route and we 10kms participants enjoyed the well-stocked water tables (before they ran out of supplies later).
What made the event memorable was the large number of supporters along the route. They cheered, clapped and sang as we passed. By the time we reached the Mandela monument at the end, we felt elated.
Walkers should certainly grab this rare opportunity that this event provides to experience this level of crowd support and the feeling of comraderie amongst the entrants!