Over The Top

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By John Cooper

Running the Pirates 21.1 a couple of weeks ago refreshed my memory of so many tough, but wonderful midweek training runs on the same course. After cautiously negotiating traffic for the first seven k’s, the middle third of the route incorporates k*khuis een, twee en drie. For English-only speakers, that translates to sh*thouse one, two and three; aptly named for hills that seem vertical in inclination. Why am I so fond of this little ‘Over the Top’ route, you may ask?

Well, few years ago I was fortunate enough to train with a group of RAC (Rand Athletic Club) guys dubbed ‘The A-Team’ for good reason – one of the chaps had a Comrades finish position of 18th. Every Wednesday evening about ten weeks before Comrades we set out from Al’s house in Craighall. I was the ‘slowest’ runner in the group of 6-8 guys who were predominantly silver runners. By the time I reached the top traffic circle on Cliffside, the rest of the group was ready to go again – one of the drawbacks of being at the back of the pack. It’s a fast downhill from there before the sharp right turn into Hearn Drive, the pull up to the water tower and inevitable dice for ‘king of the mountain’. The dash through Montgomery Park pushed the pulse way up and it felt like we were sprinting.

We ended the session with a climb back up 1st Ave and a well-deserved beer. It was exhilarating running out of my comfort zone on a course that challenged mind and body; and above all made me stronger – the results showed at Comrades. The value of those midweek training runs was enormous. They kept me motivated; and together with the long weekend runs, contributed to a brilliant base on which to build. The next 12 weeks are gonna rock.

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