Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 127, February 2020 - Page 16

THE RUNNING MANN By Stuart Mann Scratching a Seven-year Itch After taking a lengthy break from running the Voet van Afrika Marathon, I returned to one of my all-time favourite races and found that it is still just as great as I remember. Marathon #228 / Voet van Afrika #11 / 12 October 2019 stopped for lunch and the Old Running Mann realised that he was without his iPad. It turned out that he left it in the airport trolley, but fortunately the good people at Europcar had found it and were safeguarding it. This made me realise that travelling with your parents is not that different from travelling with your kids – and thus I prevented any further mishaps by taking stock of all the peripherals my father took with him on each outing, and followed this up with routine checks before each subsequent departure: “Have you got your phone? Have you got your shoes? Have you got your top?” and the like. I duly managed 10 in a row at Two Oceans and Knysna, but the arrival of my second daughter meant that my 10th Voet was delayed by one year. When the gynaecologist pronounced the due date as being Voet Marathon race day, a dedicated runner like myself politely enquired as to the accuracy of his predictions. A former runner himself, the gynae looked at me in disdain and said, “I wouldn’t book flights, if I were you.” In fact it is rather appropriate that my daughter was to blame for me missing my 10 th Voet in a row, since I blame my own father for my fixation with these races. Voet, Knysna and Oceans were the three races he ran year after year, and once I started running, I thought that instead of just following in his footsteps, it would be even better to run them together. I managed to run all of them several times with the Old Running Mann, and subsequently inherited his permanent numbers in all three races. 16 Running the 2003 Voet with my dad Trucking Good Fun The race starts at 6am, just as dawn breaks, about 9km outside Bredasdorp on the quiet Elim Road, amongst prime Overberg farmland. Fortunately, we were greeted with a cool, overcast morning, which would make the gruelling journey over the Soetmuisberg, down into Napier and back to Bredasdorp slightly easier than the usual swelteringly hot conditions the Southern Cape dishes up at this time of the year. Father-Son Road-trip After my 10 Voet, I decided to ‘see other people,’ but seven years later, this was an itch that needed scratching again, and so the time was right for another trip to the Southern Cape. Once again, I can lay the blame motivation on the Old Running Mann – my father was visiting us from England and purposefully timed his visit to coincide with the Voet (as well as his granddaughter’s birthday, of course). th Now the journey south is a long one from Gauteng: Fight the Fourways traffic to catch a two-hour flight from Lanseria, collect the rental car from Cape Town airport and then a further two-hour drive to Bredasdorp. Our trip was largely uneventful until we ISSUE 127 FEBRUARY 2020 / Being a point-to-point race, the race has a unique method of handling transport logistics, using farm trucks to shuttle us like lambs to the slaughter (or cattle into battle, as I prefer). I was told later that they were actually “Grain trucks,” but I bet they tell that story to all the naïve little lambs. A truckload of 21km runners naively cheer on marathoners B efore I started running there were three marathons that I wanted to complete: Two Oceans, Knysna and the Voet van Afrika. I’m pleased to say that I managed to place large ticks next to each race in my first year of running in 2002. Later, there were three marathons that I wanted to complete 10 times to earn a permanent number. No prizes for guessing that the same three races made the list.