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July 16, 2009

Knysna Half Marathon

Even though there is so much to do in Cape Town, it never hurts to sneak out to South Africa’s other gems for some weekend thrills every once in a while. My last venture out of Cape Town was to take part in the Knysna Half Marathon.

I got into running towards the end of last year, which quickly turned into the start of a fresh addiction – one that makes you feel, eat and look better than you did when you started, which is quite rare.

Before I knew it, my short 5km runs became 10km and my iPod playlist had to be changed every week. I decided it was time to run my first half marathon to test the results of the past few months’ extra-curricular activity, so I entered into the Knysna Half Marathon.

I’m not sure how it happened, but I ended up staying with a fantastic group of six stunning girls for the weekend. They got me up at 4am, made sure I carbo-loaded and provided a great vibe for the entire experience. Who said Axe deodorant doesn’t work?

Barely awake, we arrived at the race transport area at 5am kitted out in the latest winter gear from Pep (the items you drop go to charity) and caught a lift with a charismatic taxi driver to near the top of the forest for the start.

There’s a lot one can do before the race, such as get hot coffee, stretch and inevitably bump into old friends you haven’t seen in years. But don’t ask about Toilet Town… I still get chills.

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Taking a well-earned break on the beach

We made our way as close to the front as possible and, once the gun went off, we tried not to get crushed by the stampede of energetic athletes charging from behind. My time for the first 5km was a bit slower than usual due to the crowds, but I picked it up and reached halfway (10.5km) in 50 minutes.

The forest is filled with some nasty hills, but is a stunning part of the race. My favourite was when we ran through the Simola Golf and Country Estate, which has some breathtaking views and amazing houses. After taking in the scenery, we met a ridiculously steep downhill on the course, on which two of the girls from my group started a skipping gang – as other runners decided to join in the fun. I was sad to have missed this sight.

The rest of the race was pretty flat, but the last few kilometres resembled a brick wall, making it tough as I neared the finish. After a quick mental battle I reached the finish line, which was filled with cheering friends and supporters and some much-needed refreshments. The 1 hour 47 minutes I spent running were well worth it and I recommend it to everyone.

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