I was last at the Sasol half marathon in Sasolburg back in 2012. It's a mostly flat route with two climbs that are neither steep nor long. The last four kilometres is actually the sting in the tail - a subtle uphill gradient that keeps your legs working - without respite - to the end.
My neighbour Andrew was again keen to join me.
An alarm going off at 04h20 is a nasty thing.
We got to Sasolburg quickly - it's only 40km from Parys. And there were already hundreds of cars parked. There were so many more runners here than I remembered from a few years ago.
We took a selfie at the start and then off we went. Andrew is faster than me so he shot off. We'd arranged to meet at the finish or at the car.
After a really easy Bert's Bricks, I planned to have an easy Sasol but with a little more pace. I didn't run with a watch but at 10km I saw a guy looking at his watch and got a 1:01 split from him. A steady 6min/km. My breathing easy all the way. If I'd had someone to talk to we would have been chattering the whole way.
Just after 13km is one of two climbs on the course. It really isn't a big climb but after 13km of working the flat, it feels a lot harder than it really is. I had a quick 20 metres of walkies to get me to the top. Just after 16km is another hill - another quick walkies saw me over with my breathing still calm and easy.
It's a good thing that I'd taken the first 17km so easy because the remaining four kilometres are actually quite hard work. The road is pretty much flat but with a very, very gentle incline so you have to work for every gain. With less than a parkrun distance to go, I had it good along here and charged to the finish.
A lady at the finish, Almerie, took a photo of me coming across the line - my head was turned to look at the race clock. An even 2:07. I would have liked a sub-2 but for my effort level, this time was just right. (a friend tagged me on FB so I got to see the unexpected photo)
I am enjoying packing in more regular distance and my weekly runs with my neighbour - sometimes we're joined by other neighbouring runners - are definitely a highlight. Long runs are definitely more fun with company.
I haven't got any other 21s planned. I did pick up some race flyers at the finish so I'll see what else there is in the area. I can't handle too many 04h30 mornings so a 21 every couple of weeks is just fine.