Sunday, 31 July 2011

Running for the fun of it and other stories

‘Who would have thought,’ said my brother-in-law Buzz, ‘that the Hawthorne family would be pounding around the countryside in an organised road race!’

His scepticism arises from having had close contact for many years with a family better known for knees-upping to Neil Diamond and our ability to raise our drinking arms often and keenly than running for profit or pleasure.

We – my two sisters, my brother and I – were actually all pretty athletic at school and broke various running and jumping records, but later in life we’ve all become somewhat sedentary. Then my sister Bev suddenly became a half-marathoner. Quite where this madness originates is hard to say, but her enthusiasm inspired us, so yesterday saw us up at dawn’s crack, preparing to go to various lengths out on the road. Bev did the PPC Bergmarathon 21km, Buzz and his son did the 10km (here they are, above, heading off into the pre-dawn chill), and my kids and I did the 5km.

The 5km was completely undemanding and unwound across gorgeous countryside bathed in early-morning winter sun. There were lots of little kids and older people and mums and dads pushing baby-strollers. Even the start was low-key: the starter tried to get some competitive spirit going by doing an animated count-down – ‘Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, on your marks, get set, GO!’ – but on the word ‘GO!’ everyone just sort of ambled away from the start line. It was terrific.

We had lunch later at the incomparable Bar Bar Black Sheep restaurant here in Riebeek Kasteel. Honestly, how often do six people order different things off the menu, and all six absolutely rave about their food? And it wasn’t post-race hunger that made everything so delicious, because we’d all snacked at home after the runs. (And also had cold showers – which was a little embarrassing for me, because I’d boasted long and loudly about my new solar geyser, not taking into account that two days of rain and cold temperatures had sapped the solar cells. And, annoyingly, this morning, after a full day of sunshine yesterday, the water was wonderfully piping-hot again – just when it wasn’t needed by six grimy, sweaty people.) Anyway, if you’re in this neck of the woods, I can personally highly recommend BBBS's lamb burger or any of the pies (I had chicken and leek; my sister had pork and apple; both were scrumptious), and the onion soup has also had rave reviews.

While we were having lunch, Bev told us about relating the post below to Buzz – with unfortunate timing, as she told him the story while they were driving here from Cape Town, with Buzz at the wheel. Buzz, who does that male ‘tuning out’ thing whenever female nattering becomes too much to bear, did indeed tune out. So when Bev related the ‘Brake! Brake! Fuck! Fuck!’ part, Buzz suddenly tuned back in, slammed on anchors, stared wildly around, saw no reason for her apparent panic, and turned on her in fury. ‘Why the hell must I brake??!’ he snarled. (Backseat drivers – you gotta love them, otherwise you’d fling them from the car.)

My daughter was so inspired by the 5km amble that she immediately decided to do the 21km next year. I don’t think she’s entirely thought this through – she doesn’t realise, for instance, that ‘doing the 21km’ requires actually running for 21km – so I’m encouraging her to aim for the 10km first.

But one thing’s for sure: we’ll all do some distance in next year’s PPC road races. It was such fun!

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1 comment:

Gretchen Bong Spoodle said...

I have to actually run?? Damn. I think I'll just hide at the finish line and when all the real athletes start victoriously spilling over the finish line, I'll artfully make my way into the crowd. I won't even have broken a sweat. Mwuhahahaah...