Updated: May 7
I initially thought the 5am start time for the Two Oceans Ultramarathon was a mistake. Nevertheless, I made my way to the foothills of Table Mountain to join the 11,000 runners taking on the 56km course that spans both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Widely regarded as the most beautiful ultramarathon in the world, I was excited to take on the challenge.
After some rousing words from the mayor and a heartfelt rendition of the South African national anthem, we were off! However, due to the ongoing power cuts in South Africa, the street lights weren't working and the first few hours were spent running in pitch darkness. Despite this, people were already gathering outside their houses to cheer us on.
As we approached the Indian Ocean at kilometer 15, I caught a whiff of the sea and was buoyed along by the fast pace of my starting pod. However, the first big challenge of the day came at kilometer 27 with an intimidating 150m climb towards Chapman's Peak, a famous cliff-side road that offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.
By the time I crossed the 42km marathon mark in 3 hours and 33 minutes, I was feeling good and ready to tackle the final stretch. But with 10km to go, I faced another relentless 150m climb up Constantia Nek, a shady forest road that leads up Table Mountain. It was tough, but I was urged along by spectators who were playing music, dancing, and handing out drinks, orange segments, and boiled baby potatoes.
Just as I was seriously struggling having reached the top of Constantia Nek, one onlooker shouted, "Jos! You've trained all year for this! Keep moving forward". I think he was real and not just a figment of my tired mind.
With 5km left, another spectator reassured me it was "just a park run to go". "Easy for her to say!" I thought, as my legs burned with exhaustion. But after 5 hours and 3 minutes of running, I finally crossed the finish line at Cape Town University, feeling completely spent but also elated at the same time.
Most of all, I was grateful to everyone who contributed to our fundraising efforts. Together, we raised over £1,500, surpassing our target. And knowing that our Home Manager, Joyce, was working closely with social welfare and welcoming seven more children to Funsani Home this month was all the motivation I needed!