Friday, 4 May 2018

9 Freedom Runs for Freedom Day

For the third year in a row (my post from 2016 and my post from 2017) I had the pleasure of again participating in the 9 Freedom Runs for Freedom Day. These are 9 parkruns in Jo'burg that are held on Freedom Day (27 April). The event is coordinated by my friends Francis Rogan and Staci Katsivalis. There is no entry fee and the various parkrun Event Directors voluntarily host us visitors as we move from one parkrun to the next throughout the day.

This concept was started four years ago (I missed the first running of this event as I was away at the time) when there were only 9 parkruns in Gauteng. Now we have so many that we can enjoy a different mix of runs each year. This year three of these events were held on Freedom Day in Jo'burg area, Pretoria and Cape Town.

I did self-drive this year as I needed to shoot back to Parys directly afterwards; but I did enjoy getting to run with and catch up with friends. I'd like to use 'too much chatting' as an excuse for what felt like slower times... Certainly parkruns 4 to 7 were a reflection on the warm day and hilly courses!

Let's see where we ran:

#1 - Boksburg parkrun: 28:47 (28:16 last year)
We ran here last year and it was definitely much warmer this year for the 6am start. Located at the Boksburg stadium, this really is an enjoyable course. I ran with Chrissie and enjoyed catching up with her.

#2 - Rondebult: 29:51

What a treat to run this one (and the next two) with my dear friend Sarah. We used to see each other often and being in Parys (2.5 years now!) I don't often have the pleasure of her company. Apparently Rondebult's course used to go around the large vegetable field. This was an out-and-back. It's a flat course and to be honest we spent so much time chatting I didn't pay too much attention to much else. For me the value in this course would be to watch the vegetables grow bigger each week. Sarah has done this one before and said that cabbages get planted here and other veg.

#3 - Victoria Lake: 29:24 (28:28 in 2016)
We did this one last year and I quite enjoy this two-lap course at Victoria Lake in Germiston. I like the section of sidewalk along the dam. Pretty flat too. Lots of chatting.

#4 - Bezuidenhout Valley: 32:08
A run in my old 'hood. Bez Park is near my old high school and I remember this park from when I was a child. I certainly think that parkrun has breathed a bit of new life into it. This is a good thing because it really is a lovely green area.
The route is pretty decent and it includes some hills. I did take a few little walkies. Sarah and I were joined by Claudio, who I saw later at another parkrun again. This was Sarah's last one (she only planned to run three) as she is running a 32km road race this weekend. bye-bye to Sarah and I was off to...

#5 - Albert's Farm: 31:19 (30:26 in 2017; 31:26 in 2016)
Albert's Farm is one of the more challenging JHB parkruns and as a result is has smaller numbers than some others. I've always enjoyed this park from orienteering and it has featured in the last three Freedom Day runs. This one I ran on my own, which is a good thing because this hilly course is not a good one for chatting. Looking at my past times here, not too shabby this year.

#6 - Golden Harvest: 33:25 (31:58 in 2017; 33:49 in 2016)
 A bit of a route change on this course after a bridge got swept away recently following heavy rains. From what I recall, I'd probably bet on this new version being a bit harder (and longer?) than the previous course... Or maybe that was just me. I was really feeling the heat of the day and definitely lingered a bit longer walking on some of the hills! After hills at Bez Valley and then Albert's Farm and then Golden Harvest, I was dragging my feet a bit. I ran in the beginning with Dave and the rest on my own. I needed all the breath I had for running. I always love Golden Harvest - it is a super venue - and for me this is one of my favourite parkrun courses.

#7 - Lanseria: 32:30
My first time on this two-lap course; and I really enjoyed it. It has a good mix of up and down and a farmy feel. I ran this one with Dave and my legs actually felt pretty decent. This location is north of Lanseria airport so it is a long way out; but a nice one to go to if you're in the north.

with Dave Funnell
#8 - Ernest Ullman: 30:56
I ran here on a Saturday a few weeks ago when I stayed over with friends; this is their home parkrun. On that day, with fresh legs, I ran a 26 min parkrun; this was definitely not on the cards for my 8th consecutive parkrun this day!  I took it easy, enjoyed a little walk up the slight hill at the end of the lap and ticked over on the course. Driving my legs had felt a bit stiff but once running I actually felt good. This flat course was a nice reward after the hilly courses.

#9 - Atholl: 33:45
This is a bit of a weird route but one that makes the best use of a small park and the space available to host and make another parkrun available. I ran not quite the first kilometre with parkrun SA founder and Comrades legend Bruce Fordyce. If you're new-ish to my blog you probably won't know that Bruce and I were adventure racing teammates back in 2006 when Bruce and David Vlok were doing a tv series. Together with a Cape AR guy, Evan Price, we all did the 250km Swazi Xtreme adventure race together. What an experience! And what an opportunity to get to know Bruce. He was 50 at the time and doing his first multiday, non-stop adventure race. What great memories! We had a bit of a chat and then I put my head down to get this last parkrun in the bag.

Selfie at Boksburg; with Sarah at Rondebult
I didn't have too much time to hang around afterwards so I said goodbyes to friends and headed back home to Parys, dropping another runner in Soweto on the way.

Thank you to all of the parkruns that hosted us and the volunteers that were out there. They really make this day a special one. And to Francis and Staci - thank you on coordinating another super event. xxx

When I woke up on Saturday morning I was surprised that my legs weren't in the least bit stiff. I really haven't done much distance so I was expecting a bit of punishment afterwards. I spent Saturday in the car on the road to KZN. Fortunately my legs didn't seize up in the car either.

For sure, if I'm in town again on 27 April 2019, you'll find me again at 9 Freedom Runs for Freedom Day.

Running, different locations and friends; a great combination.

No comments: