March Madness

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By Helen Letseka

Wowee, what a month!

In the space of four weeks I have run my first 32, 42 and 56 (well actually 54, but more about that in a minute). I have also hijacked another club’s midweek training runs (thanks Benoni Notherns), travelled to other cities and provinces, found myself running around my suburb at noon and received applause from the gym staff after an hour and a half on the treadmill, all in the attempt to get more mileage in. I also ran my PB for a half marathon. Not bad going if I do say so myself.

This past weekend I was in Mpumalanga for the Long Tom 56km. Before I receive credit where it is not due let me say that at the eight hour cut off I was pulled off the road between the 53km and 54km mark. For any runner who is familiar with the route of this race I don’t have to say any more. For those of you who are not, let me give you an excerpt from the race’s website:

“A tough challenge: The 56km ultra marathon’s degree of difficulty is on par with the Comrades Marathon (89 km). However, the big challenge of the Longtom Ultra Marathon is not the distance, but the 35 km painstaking climb up the mountain and the 21.1 km descent on the other side of the mountain to the finish in Lydenburg.”

And yet even this is not an entirely accurate description because the highest point is actually at 37km, not 35, and even a mention of that would not have prepared me for the disappointed I felt when after the highest point less than a kilometre of downhill followed and we began to undulate until 41km when we started a descent which rivalled the fuel tanks of a space shuttle re-entering the atmosphere.

Nor would it accurately describe the type of motion required to accomplish this descent because running hurts, walking hurts and the extreme camber of the road does not even allow one to stand still without falling over. It also does not tell you that while you are making this pained descent you can actually see the end point of the race but you are kilometres away.

So next year I will be back and better prepared.

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One Response to March Madness

  1. Boitumelo October 1, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

    Hi Helen

    I haven’t been to this side but I’m all good and ready for Soweto Marathon. Check the campaign below!

    I’ll be in the Soweto Marathon and my daughter, the initiator of the campaign, will be running New York City Marathon!
    Get the word out to other fellow runners!

    Please visit the link provided, applaud and donate!


    Support Ntshadi Mofokeng, Class of 2012 and a recipient of several scholarships for her education abroad, in giving back for girls’ education in Africa.

    On 6th November, she is running New York City Marathon.

    Visit this site to read more and hopefully, donate:



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