I’ve just completed another Econet Victoria Falls Half Marathon and once again, I am left feeling exhilarated, exhausted and excited for next year already. It just never disappoints. The festive atmosphere, natural beauty and a general ambiance of holiday humour is unique to this run. The start line bristled with excitement, runners bending, stretching, fiddling with technology, applying last minute slaps of sunscreen and heat rub, last kisses for supportive friends and families, and suddenly we were off!
This year was the largest field to date, so the start was slow and jostley, a long line of runners snaking down the road as far as the eye can see. My absolute favourite part of this run is the sojourn across the Victoria Falls Bridge. There are few words to describe being able to look at the Falls in the soft early morning light, with the spray billowing up in a massive cloud above. Best of all, you get to do this twice as the turnaround point is shortly after the bridge!
We then plodded along Zambezi drive, which follows the Zambezi river, in places close enough to hear the water rushing through the rapids. We soon discovered that we weren’t the only folk needing to use this route, as just up ahead we saw branches moving and heard a distinctive crack and rustle. We were ushered along by runners in front and behind, the sheer momentum of jogging bodies pushing forward. The elephant was clearly put out at this mass of humanity on his turf. He stepped forward, shook his head and give us a short sharp trumpet, before turning away in disgust. The smooth rows of steady runners disbanded into scattering wide eyed sprinters, looking for cover of any sort.
A few seconds of utter panic, was followed by the realisation that danger was no longer present, nervous grins and shaky laughter started spreading through the crowd, as we all wobbled back into formation. There were armed game scouts nearby, but the entire episode was over before anyone fully realised what was happening. It never ceases to amaze me how half a ton of critter can sneak up on you, utterly silent. Elephants are masters of this manoeuvre. I am absolutely certain that this band of runners produced a pachyderm induced PB, and their renditions of this moment will be repeated and expanded for eternity.
The rest of the run was remarkably calm by comparison, although the final set of hills in the last 4 km definitely gets your attention. All along the route are well wishers, supporters, cheering by-standers and regular water points booming music and encouragement. It’s so much easier to gasp up a hill powered by whooping and clapping. Even if my actual performance was mediocre (pathetic) at the time, I could just hear Chariots of Fire in my head, and was sure I must have been gliding effortlessly along, a picture of athletic grace.
It was almost an anti-climax to reach the finish, although the body was reminding me that it was a good time to stop. The party however, was just warming up and it was time to get spruced up to enjoy a cruise on the Zambezi followed by a night of dancing on stiff legs.
Jo Brown, Vic Falls