The run of my life!
ZIMBABWE: On Saturday the 18th of November 2023, Cimas Medical Aid Society held its Harare leg of the “iGo Half Marathon” and boy, it was a blast of an experience for me, for only one reason; this was my first half marathon ever!
I have been a “runner” for the past 18 months since I decided to become a fitness fanatic. But my running has been more of a personal endurance exercise than a competitive undertaking. Doing approximately 30km per month, my route would take me from my doorstep in Pomona right to the entrance of Borrowdale Brooke estate. The trail can be rather arduous with all those up hills and steep descend on Hogerty Hill road, not to forget the hairpin bends on Crowhill road.
So, with all this tough conditioning in me, I really felt I was physically and mentally ready for a real marathon with real competition in front of and behind me. I wasn’t too wrong as I later found out.
The starting point was ZB Sports Club in Vainona (a residential suburb in the north of Harare), which is close to where I stay, so I managed to be on site fifteen minutes ahead of starting time. The marathon was an open event, with races from 5km, 10km and the big one; the 21km road challenge. There was a balanced representation of gender and age from the participants. The numbers looked quite substantial, and I understand pre-tickets to the half-marathon were sold out a few days before the event.
Positive vibes permeated the whole venue as athletes engaged in warm up drills ahead of the battle as music pumped out from the sound stage in rhythmic pulse.
Starting time for the 21km race was 5.30 and by the time the clock struck, everyone was on the starting line, raging to go. Except for me. I was busy assisting a fellow athlete fix his race-number to his bib, and I only managed to finish just as the gun fired!
The route was good. Taking us from the starting point to the newly refurbished Alpes road and down to Harare Drive. Down the long Harare Drive to Kingsmead road in Borrowdale. Into Borrowldale/Liberation Legacy Drive, heading towards the city. Branch into Swan Drive. Down Churchill road and hit College road. Turn into The Chase. Chase down the trail into Pendennis. Off Pendennis into Chartsworth. We then took Alpes road again and all the way back home.
I maintained a healthy position on the track. I wasn’t a front runner, neither was I a back runner. I also think I wasn’t a middle runner either. My position was between the front and the middle, and I felt safe there. I was buffered from the pressures of wanting to maintain a lead or the burden of carrying the rear. I managed to maintain a steady pace for the most part of the race. There were laps where the gap between me and the athletes behind was about 500m, and the primary goal became to maintain that gap for as long as I could.
There were thrilling moments when I finally managed to close the gap and started overtaking athletes in front of me. But there were also moments of heartbreak when, in the homestretch laps, athletes started swooshing past me one after the other like shooting stars, never to catch them again.
Energy is staple in circumstances like this. I had on me two sachets of energy gel which sustained me throughout the race. Water can also be vital, but in my case, I chose only to use it to swish my mouth. However, there were moments I felt I could do with a bucket of water, but it was nowhere to be found. There wasn’t an even distribution of waterpoints around the route.
I managed to finish on modest time of roughly a hundred plus minutes. My timer device had run out of battery by the time I hit the finish line. I understand results will be posted on the event manager’s website later (Hype Nation Zimbabwe), but I was expecting to have them right away from their timing system on venue.
The finishers medal had a cool design, and I happily wore it around my neck and didn’t take it off for the better part of the day! It being my first medal, its significance will be outstanding for a while in my life.
Refreshments including hot tea were served on venue. There were also free massages for those in need of a little kneading. Athletes also had time to connect and mingle while reflecting on the race over snacks.
The Cimas iGo Half Marathon was in support of men’s health, and all proceeds will go to the Cancer Association of Zimbabwe to assist the organisation in their efforts to fight cancer in Zimbabwe, particularly prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is not very much talked about, yet the ailment claims about 500 lives of men every year in the country.
It felt fulfilling to be part of a sporting event you love while contributing to a worthy cause at the same time. It really was the run of my life!
The Cimas half marathon, in my view as a first-time runner, was a success. I’m looking forward to my next marathon, this time a more challenging one, like the Victoria Falls Half Marathon. I’m ready.