Monday, 23 January 2017

Bert's Bricks 21 again

Last year I ran the Bert's Bricks 21 in Potch and with the earth completing its journey around the sun, it was again time for this novel road run. This time, I had company, with my neighbours Andrew and Ryan, a parkrun friend Lauwrence and my dear friend and old Jo'burg running buddy Jason.

Lauwrence, Jason, me, Andrew and Ryan
We were out of Parys by 05h00 to head to Potch and we got there with plenty of time to register, hang around and chat. This was Lauwrence's first 21 - and I think his first distance over 10km. He has been a regular at our Parys parkrun for about six months and runs a decent 21-minute 5km. He is built like a racing snake - light in build with long skinny legs. He is made for more distance.

The route is flat, with only a slight incline up to the Bert's Brick's factory at 10km. The novelty of this run is that runners can collect a marked brick at the factory and if they run all the way back to the finish with the brick, they get a 6-pack of beer. There are only 100 bricks.

Jason and I had a very easy outward run, jabbering all the way. It was surprisingly warm and within a few kilometres we were dripping with sweat. Despite the road being flat, it is fairly scenic out there with mielie fields and small holdings on either side of the road.

We spotted Lauwrence, with his brick, on his return (around 12km) and he looked bouncy and fast. Approaching the factory turn we saw Andrew and Ryan. They had brought along a small hydration pack and a baby carrier, respectively, to carry their bricks on their backs. Both systems worked very well for them.

Jason and I were fortunate to pick up two of the last bricks. We'd brought along pillowcases to hold the bricks. I did this last year and it had worked well.

The bricks this year were definitely smaller and lighter. These were grey pavers and not the thicker red bricks we had last time. They're easier to hold in your hand and less ungainly.

On the return we had the wind in our faces, which was far more cooling and kept the temperature down.

At the finish we claimed our beer, which none of us drink (I hang on to mine for visitors) and found our friends. Lauwrence had off-loaded his brick along the way but still clocked 1h30 for this first 21. We headed back to Parys and, with the sun up and bright, Jason got to see the hills of the Vredefort Dome area as we drove through.

It is the Sasol 21km in two weeks. I was last at this race in 2012 with Fred, Michael and Tommy. I'm working on my neighbours and some running friends to join me in Sasolburg on 4 Feb.

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