Kenyan Mode: Return to the Two Oceans Half Marathon
After running my first Two Oceans Half Marathon in 2013, I vowed that I would never return to this evil race.
Well that didn’t last long and here I am back at the start line with the thousands of runners looking to smash a PB, finish their first 21km race or who are just out to have fun.
It’s infectious and you have no choice but to get swept up in the excitement. With a cool expo, tonnes of social media hype plus a healthy dose of peer pressure – it’s the kind of event that is inescapable. This year I even signed up for two events – the 10km Trail Run and the Half Marathon – I just couldn’t help myself
I decided to approach the weekend with the goal of maximising the fun factor on both events. I initially set myself the goal of a sub-2hr 21km in January, but this damn recurring foot injury hasn’t allowed me to reach the pace that I showed in December – let’s be honest, it’s my fault for not resting the injury properly #RunnersProblems
As I mentioned in my last post, I had to get used to the effects of running on two consecutive days. So in the weeks preceding the races, I went out for some training runs where I did just that and mixed it up with one day road followed by another on the trail and then reversing the order. This time, I was smart enough to actually have all my road training on the actual route of the Half Marathon.
I think training on the course was the best thing I could have done. It helps tremendously with identifying which areas you struggle with – whether it was up Southern Cross Drive or the long downhill’s past Kirstenbosch to Union Drive. I even got a chance to test out some compression socks and calf sleeves, which I have now adopted as part of my running kit.
I also found that I’d bought my road running shoes a tad too small because at the 12km mark my feet were not comfortable at all. This is priceless information which you would rather find out during training than on race day.
Enter Kenyan Mode
Once you collect your race pack from the expo, you realize that the race is here and it felt like we didn’t even bat an eyelid before we were waking up in the wee-hours of the morning to join the masses at the start in Newlands.
Those early morning starts can be chilly, so we employed some advanced heat retention strategies before we left aka the black bag technique.
A key consideration you need to make before the race is the all-important loo break. The queues for the toilets can get really really long the nearer you get to the starting line. So make an allowance to deal with both road and toilet traffic so that you get to the start early.
Unfortunately, we forgot to take the toilet traffic into account and ended up right at the back of the E-seeding section! What this meant was that it took us about 5 minutes to cross the start line after the race had begun – FYI your race time starts when the start gun goes, so we were already 5 minutes behind lol
If you want to do a fast time on the Two Oceans Half Marathon you need to get seeded in A to D, so make sure you submit your 10km qualifying times before the cut-off dates. Otherwise, you will have to endure the same slow start we got in E as you navigate through the masses. If you start right at the back (like we did) be prepared to do the first 3kms in about 30minutes because you will be forced to walk.
Nonetheless, the vibe at the start was awesome. Supporters lined the streets urging the runners on. The closer you came to the large climbs, the more people there were shouting words of encouragement. Plus it’s a great time to stop for a selfie when you find some of your family and friends 🙂
The traffic on route eases up when you reach Southern Cross Drive as people are more likely to take walking breaks here – so space starts to open up. This is where Aanikah and I started to stretch our legs and pick up the pace. I think the slow start was actually a blessing in disguise as it allowed a really fast second half of the race.
The climb up Southern Cross Drive was challenging, but there is always the fast descent to Kirstenbosch to look forward to. Don’t be fooled, there are still a couple of steep climbs before the end which make tough work on tired legs.
Luckily, it was around this time that a refreshing light drizzle started which helped the runners stay cool in the heat of battle.
As I rounded the bend from Kirstenbosch to Union Drive, the last few climbs awaited and I was determined to not let them catch me out. The first bit up to Newlands Forest was fine, but the final hill up to UCT got to me a bit – I was raring to go faster, but my legs didn’t get the message 🙂
Among all the runners, I found my fellow Trail Bokkie Rushdie at the top of that final hill and we ran together for the last bit onto the UCT Rugby fields for a joint finish and official time of 2:18:02.
Shortly after that, Aanikah crossed the finish line and we were all chuffed about our new Two Oceans PBs – despite the traffic and slow starts woohoo!
Here is my Strava entry for the race:
As you can see, the second half of the race (from 12km onward i.e. at Southern Cross Drive) is markedly faster than the first, so make sure you are aware of this potentially happening if you are starting from the E-seeded batch.
If you are planning on doing the Two Oceans Half Marathon, I suggest you include training runs on the course – there is no substitute for experience, especially when you know exactly how far and the effort still required to reach the top of Southern Cross Drive.
The Two Oceans Half Marathon course is a tough one. There are lots of climbs and long downhill sections, but very few flats. The last kilometre is tough going as well and many get caught out on the hill just before UCT.
However, all of the struggle is overshadowed by the massive support along the way. If you are a Cape Town local, you are sure to run into friends and family along the route shouting those words of encouragement when you need it most 🙂
If you haven’t run a half marathon yet, you should definitely add the Two Oceans to your bucket list.
If you took part in the 2015 Two Oceans Half Marathon or Ultra Marathon and had an epic moment/experience, please feel free to share it in the comments section below.
For some more info on the Half Marathon route check out the Two Oceans webpage