All roads led to the Soweto Marathon… x

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Prior to this race, I had yet to feel so uninterested and
unmotivated to run in my life. Honestly speaking, my desire and passion for
running had diminished away, much like a hot flame that had been fanned way too
little, or way too much, depending on how you choose to look at it. The
build-up towards the race was more of a challenge for me than any other race,
simply based on the fact that I didn’t have a lot of time to train for the race
(INSERT complaints about exams here), and when I finally did have the time to
train, I would conveniently find 101 different reasons as to why I just
couldn’t afford to put on my big girl panties, big girl running shoes, and
whatever other big girl gear I needed to brave the streets and run towards my
goal.
But I didn’t, and as time went by and the date for the race
came closer, I became more and more worried about the fact that I was supposed
to run a half-marathon in a few days, and I had only run 3 kilometres during
the week instead of the mileage that is usually recommended for people
attempting to run long races. These defeating and stifling thoughts were all I
could think about, until the day for race collection had arrived. Nike had
recently hosted a race in San Francisco for women, which I have been following
for the past two years, and secretly wishing I could participate in one day in
the future. The expo that was hosted, according to the Instagram pictures that
I had seen, was A M A Z I N G, and the smiles on the faces of the participants
were even more amazing! I was starting to wander if I would ever really feel
that excited about something that seemingly felt quite routine to me.
Then, I went to the expo that was held at Constitutional
Hill for the collection of the race packs, and although I had heard that it was
quite busy and a long wait (naturally), it lit up that fire in me that I
previously described as having been fanned away. That’s the thing with running,
and why I even liked it in the first place. It goes down in my books as one of
the most challenging, crazy yet amazing sports ever, and even though I tend to
forget why I even love it so much, something as simple as being surrounded by
people equally as passionate about it reminds me why I do. And it was at
that exact moment that I decided that I was just going to run for the thrill of
it, no expectations or hard and strict rules to abide by. And if my lack of
preparation led to my body failing me, I would just have to run with my heart
(or call an ambulance, because YOLO).
That was just the expo. Then, there was the actual race
itself. The one that I hadn’t trained for, hadn’t properly prepared for
mentally, or thought about up until the morning itself. The only plan that I
had was to keep on moving forward, even if it meant that I would have to crawl
to the finish line. Ironically, the very race that I hardly planned ahead for
was the very race that I loved the most. The very event that I thought would
push me over the edge, along with my doubts as to why I was so passionate about
such a challenging sport, was the very thing that lit up a spark in my heart
that I had forgotten even existed. 
From the warm support coming from all corners of Soweto, to the
challenging uphills (which I have NEVER noticed whilst I’ve driven there, by
the way), and the vibe in itself, I felt a sense of home in a crowd of people
that I had never met or even seen. Every so often in any other race, I would have to remind
myself that the faster I ran, the sooner I would get to the finish line, but
this race felt a bit different. Although I had hoped for a personal record
(which I did get, praise God), the driving force came from the people around
me, coming from different walks of life, racing for different purposes, we
somehow all became one.
So a big shout out to Nike, for organizing such an amazing
race. Based on the reaction from everyone who ran the race, it’s evident that I
am one of the many runners who felt alive and electrified within a crowd of
thousands, and so grateful to have been a part of that very crowd. And a big
shoutout to my papops for introducing me to running. Although I HATED the races
that he forced us to go to, they all led me to where I am now. They say that
running is a great metaphor to life, and I agree. The metaphor, in my opinion,
is that beyond the up hill that feels like it’s never going to end, there’s a
reward in the form of a sense of achievement. And if that’s not enough for you,
well, there’s a snazzy little medal waiting for you.

X

Thulz

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