On Sunday I took part in the Sutherland to Surf race - an annual event that has been running since the 1970s, although this was my first go at it. The course goes from Sutherland to Wanda Beach, 11km of rolling hills with most of the run on main roads, partially closed for the event.
I was gobsmacked by the size of the field when I arrived at the race starting area. It was one of those "one, two, three... lots" moments - a few thousand runners crowded in together. I bunged my timing chip under the lace of my huarache sandal to shuffle across the starting mats, then pocketed it for the run so that it wouldn't irritate my foot.
As an aside, it's occurred to me that things would be easier for runners if we were all micro-chipped, like dogs and cats, rather than fussing around with timing chips which are especially cumbersome if you're running sans shoes. I mentioned this on CoolRunning and CR Crabby pointed out that not only could our implanted chips time our runs, but they could also work like an e-tag on the highway, automatically debiting your credit card account for the cost of the event. Remember - you read it here first.
The run was enjoyable - cool conditions, no wind and I was pleased to find that the hills didn't seem too bad at all. Once again I was running in fancy pants which provoked a few cheery comments but, unfortunately, more than the usual number of unfriendly taunts as well. I haven't yet worked out what it is about not wearing regulation black runner's tights or standard shoes that gets up some people's noses so much.
Just before I crossed the finish line I got the timing chip out again and, as gracefully and inconspicuously as I could manage, stooped to wave it over the timing mat. My guide in all things barefoot, Runbare, had advised me to do this, saying "it works well as long as you don't mind looking like a git". Well, when you've just run a race in foot flaps made out of a door mat what have you got to lose ?
To pad out the morning's distance for my marathon training quota I'd arranged to run back to Sutherland after the race with Crabby. I was a bit apprehensive about this because I couldn't quite see how she was going to keep down to my pace, unless perhaps she hopped. As it happened we lost each other in the finish area anyway and so I started my slow jog back to Sutherland alone. It was distressing to find that the hills had grown a lot bigger now and I was reduced to a trudge. Still, I eventually made it back to the start and despite feeling like I must have taken twice as long as I did on the run out, it had actually only been an extra ten or fifteen minutes. Best of all, no achilles problems - yeeessss !!!