Valley Striders Race Report


Two Oceans Experience – from Annemi Van Zyl


The Two Oceans Marathon was held on 7 April 2007, a 56 km run around the beautiful Cape Peninsula. There is also a half marathon race on the same morning, but with a start 20 minutes before the Ultra.


The race numbers gets restricted to 10 000 runners in each of the events. Runners who has entered the Ultra race are allowed to downgrade in the last few days before the race if they do not feel ‘up to’ the full distance. This means that the half marathon had nearly 11 000 entries this year, with around 7 000 entries in the ultra. With an estimate of around 10% of the field not showing up on the day, around 9 700 completed the half marathon and 6 700 the ultra marathon.


The half marathon is one of the tougher ones around, with a nasty long hill between kilometer 11 and 16, with a climb from 87m to 179m over the 5 km.


The Ultra also has a very deceiving start (flattish up to km 28) with a 6km climb from kilometer 28, taking you from 34m to 180m (this takes you over the absolutely spectacular Chapmans Peak – the views are just endless). After this climb you obviously have to go down, just to start climbing again at km 40 to km 45 (12m to 215m – it just goes on and on!) But then the end is in sight! Other than a nasty little hill at km 53!


Some interesting stats: On race day they use 26460 liter of Coke, 83968 liter of water, 22500 liter Powerade, 300kg of potatoes, 3000 frozen ice cream suckers, 30 tons ice! 2475 volunteers on the refreshment stations (temperatures went up to 34 degrees Celsius this year) 90 toilets along the way!


On the Friday (day before the race) there are 5 fun runs – a 56m nappy dash, a 300m toddlers trot a 2,5km, a 5km and a 8 km run.  For  Sevenday Adventist there is an exact race, all starting at 6am. A total of 50 runners take part in this – I can just imagine that it gets very far and lonely as there is very little support on the Friday.


We also have an International Friendship Run – 5km jog for all runners visiting South Africa just to come and run the Most Beautiful marathon in the world.


To live in a country like South Africa with a large ‘high’ income group, a very medium size ‘middle class’ and a very large ‘very low income group’ and a 35% unemployment is a daily challenge and makes life very interesting - if I start telling you all the stories of people uplifting themselves from poverty in various ways, I will keep Bob’s email going for a looong time.


In the club I run for here, we have at least 10 runners that live off their race monies – they are top runners, so normally the club can pay for their shoes, but their families survive on about 20 pounds a week.  With that in mind, it means that a race like 2 Oceans with an entry fee of R120 (about 10 pounds) for South Africans is unaffordable, as they need to travel over 1000km to get here, pay for accommodation etc etc.


One of the sponsors pays for 100 runners each year to travel to Cape Town, their accommodation for 3 days and give them a free pair of shoes – I went to a dinner with this group of people the night before the race. Some of them are TOP runners – doing the 56km in around 3h50! (last year there was a gold medalist in this group – under the first 10 runners).  As a very average runner I was very humbled by them as a group. They have an average income of around ZAR2000 a month (around 160pounds), but still they manage to train and run and get excited about being a part! (About half of this year’s group has never seen the sea before, as most came from the northern provinces). Oh, not to forget the languages spoken amongst them – we have 11 official languages in South Africa, so amongst these runners we had AT LEAST 7 different languages spoken – 4 of those find it easy enough to understand each other, but the other 3 does not understand any of them. I do not understand ANY of those 7! So we communicate in English, but if they did not complete at least 6 years of school, they will not understand English very well – told you this is a very interesting place to be! If not interesting, confusing!


For those not lucky enough to get into the sponsored village, there is a facility on the finishing field where runners can sleep and shower – they arrive in hundreds at registration with their blankets and gas primus stoves!


Having worked with the pre-registration process this year, we try to get Xhosa and Zulu speakers to help in the office to make the process of entry-queries easier. We had to ask a runner living in Kwazulu Natal to pay us more money for his entry, then to fax it to us. He told us very nicely that he will walk to his nearest town in the morning (this will take him an hour), there he will pay the money and if the fax machine at the post office works he will send the proof of payment! That is determination! HE will still have to travel around 1200km to get to the start of the race!


Despite having 11 official languages in South Africa itself, come the registration days, we have an influx of Germans and Chinese, who does not speak English – then it all gets even better!


WE had a great race this year – windy in the morning, later you were happy for the wind, as it cooled you down, when temperature where creeping into the 30’s. Fortunately I was ‘in’ by then, having done 5.40 min (bronze medal). Next time I will have to train and try to go for sub 5hr – this gives you a mixed silver/bronze medal! Obviously means much more painful legs as well! The race was won in 3hr 08 this year – 5min slower than the record. The ladies race is dominated by Russia for at least the last 7-8 years. The first lady came in around 3.36 min.