Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Jislaaik! {2015 PG Glass Magersfontein 10K Recap}

The Magersfontein Memorial Race, with its 25 and 10 km distance options, takes place annually on the first Saturday of December at the Magersfontein Battlefields just outside of Kimberley.  The race commemorates the Battle of Magersfontein, which took place on 11 December 1899, during which the British forces failed to relieve the Seige of Kimberley.  

The Magersfontein Memorial Race is different from all the other local races on the calendar: The firing of the starting gun is preceded by songs from the Kimberley Regiment Pipe Band, who plays in honour of the Highland Brigade, which suffered the worst casualties during the Battle of Magersfontein; the race is run entirely on gravel roads (it's not a trail race, though); participants of the 25 km distance get the option of having a free beer at the bar that serves as turn-around point; trophies replace prize money to the winners; and the race finishes with a sting in the tail - right on top of a hill.  It's one race that I never miss if I can help it.

This year was my third time lining up for the 10 km distance, and I had some big, big goals: I wanted to clock a sub-50 minute 10 km (and a personal PB), and I really wanted to place in the top three ladies.  Go big or go home, right?  Unfortunately, the weather had similar plans...

It was hot.  December is usually a hot month in Kimberley, but this year it's been a scorcher: We've had numerous back-to-back days of temps in the high thirties/low forties and Saturday was no different - it blazed.  My tongue stuck to my dry mouth right from the first kilometre - I literally prayed from one water table to the next.  

Gulping down some fluids.

Some distraction from the heat came from a very unexpected source at around the 8 km mark: As the runner in front of me and I came around a blind corner, we startled three waterbuck grazing on a rocky outcrop to our left.  They started running and crossed the road right in front of us, between us and the lead bike, who was just returning from the finish line and riding towards us.  Unfortunately for the bike marshal, he didn't see the third waterbuck, which was hidden from his sight by a large Camelthorn Tree, and I'm sure you can guess how it turned out...  He biked at full speed; the waterbuck ran at full speed; and they saw each other for the first time when they were literally about a metre apart.  The poor guy hit his breaks full on and flew right over his handlebars, landing in the dust with a thump as the waterbuck scurried away.  As we ran past him and asked if he was okay, all he could utter was "jislaaik*!", before dusting himself off and continuing on his way.

Surreal as it was, even the waterbuck incident couldn't succeed in distracting me from the heat for very long - I look three walk breaks between Kilometre 8 and the finish line.  Oy.  Long story short: I didn't clock a sub-50 minute 10 k; or even a PB for that matter.  I clocked a 51:30 (my 10 km PB is 50:13), which, under the circumstances, I'm still very proud of.  

Heading towards the finish line - op and gaar.

Buuuuuuuuut...  I was the first lady home!  Which means, tadaaaaa: A trophy!  The second one of my life.  I should be the poster child for late bloomers, right?

The collection is (finally) growing!  For winning the 10 km race in 2010 (left) and 2015 (right).

So, if you were to ask me and the flying bike marshal how we'd sum up the 2015 Magersfontein Memorial Race in just one word, I'm pretty sure that our answers would be similar, but for very different reasons: It would have to be "jislaaik"!

*Jislaaik (pronounced yis-like) is a South African expression of astonishment.


  1. Well done! You see - the one thing about the weather and the heat is that it does affect all equally and everybody had a tough race. I guess you will never forget that bike and waterbuck incident - and neither would the biker

    1. Thanks, Cat! When we drove home, we passed a lot of participants still completing that final 2 km and most of them were taking walk breaks - I didn't feel so bad about my walk breaks anymore!

  2. Heat sucks the life out of my running game. Congrats on your trophy especially with that heat! Love the waterbuck story!

    1. Thanks, Christy! I couldn't agree with your first sentence more - it's amazing what a huge impact heat can have on running performance!


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