Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 159 June 2023 | Page 36

The Author ( Belloc72 ) and his son Ben ( of the Flightless Eagles ) lead in a group to finish their first SBBU loop


Like a ( Badass )


The second edition of the ( now ) annual Spartan Baby Badass Ultra ( SBBU ) took place in Johannesburg at the end of April , with 37 runners once again setting out to keep running for 24 hours and cover either 100km or 100 miles in order to raise funds for CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA . Rob Riccardi was one of the intrepid participants and shares his enthralling , sometimes gut-wrenching experience with us .

On Sunday 30th April , 37 runners tackled the self-supported Spartan Baby Badass Ultra ( SBBU ) at the Italian Club in Bedfordview , Johannesburg . While 33 of the athletes set out to run 100km by covering 4.167km every hour , on the hour for 24km , another four athletes opted for the tougher 100-miler ( 161km ), covering 4.167 miles ( 6.7km ) each hour . The runners did a variety of loops around the beautiful gardens of Bedfordview and through the grounds of the Italian Club , past the unique SetteBello Restaurant and alongside the neighbouring Italian retirement village ,

Casa Serena . The runners were all non-professional athletes testing their limits in a safe community environment , and all money raised in this CHOC Cows event will go to the CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA , which helps kids with cancer , and their families .
Besides tackling the physical challenge , it ’ s running for this great cause that spurs the Spartan warriors of the SBBU to keep going through a long , hard 24 hours of running , but many fall victim to the distance and ever shortening rest periods between loops . Any runner who cannot finish the SBBU needs to hand in their race number and stand to attention while a bagpiper plays Taps , confirming their abandonment of the race . This is a gruelling but hugely fun event , with all participants choosing a race nickname for the duration of the event , and the camaraderie and humour amongst both runners and supporters is a core part of the event , as can be seen by this incredible recounting of the event by Rob Riccardi , a . k . a . Belloc72 .
Monday 1 May , 2am ( Loop 17 )
The black tar road spreads out to infinity at about 2am . Shards of splintered bone shiv their way into the sinew and muscle fibres . My legs have reduced themselves to a walk for a few hours now . The running in them causes the ankles to detach from the shin bones . I cannot hear any cracking in the ankles , but I can feel the cracking .
Belloc72 still looking chipper early in the event
It makes me think of the words of Wilfred Owen ’ s poem , Dulce et Decorum Est , written during the First World War : Bent double , like old beggars under sacks , Knock-kneed , coughing like hags , we cursed through sludge , Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs And towards our distant rest began to trudge . Men marched asleep . Many had lost their boots But limped on , blood-shod . All went lame ; all blind ; Drunk with fatigue ; deaf even to the hoots Of tired , outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind .
The night ’ s embrace is turning into my own nightmare on Elm Street . Suburbia is becoming dystopian . Leaves of trees lolling in the gentle breeze resemble ashes wafting from funeral pyres . Post-boxes resemble heads on pikes . My fellow comrades ,
Images : Courtesy Rob Riccardi , Richard Laskey & the CHOC Cows
ISSUE 159 The | www same . modernathlete author , . co . za snatching a snooze as the
distance takes its toll