Monday, September 6, 2010

Victoria Falls 1/2 Marathon

Livingston, Zambia 29 August 2010
Before the Start of the Victoria Falls 1/2 Marathon

This morning i was the second person across the bridge into Zimbabwe and by the time i had cleared immigration i could see the marathoners running down the hill from the start towards me. The were moving fast and i had to sprint up the hill to the start of the half marathon. Luckily there was a wheelchair division before my race so i still had time to stretch and chew a couple shot blocks before i had to get going.

There were about 300 people lined up for the 1/2 marathon and about 3/4s of them were white. Every race number had your country of origin annotated and i saw Canadians, sweeds, South Africans, and many white Zimbabweans. Once the gun ford to start the race, the black Africans took off like rockets and the white folk plodded after. We rand down the hill from the Ecobank, through customs and immigration, then out on the Victoria Falls bridge to the Zambia gate before we turned around and ran back across the bridge to Zimbabwe and then along the Zambezi river into a park. I saw lots of baboons in the forest and every half mile or so there would be a soldier or policeman with a rifle ready, I suppose to protect us from the animals. You had to keep an eye on the road to avoid the frequent elephant piles on the road.

There were many aid stations along the route (about every 2-3 km) handing out small sacks of water or an electrolyte drink. I thought the sacks were a huge improvement over the cups of water you usually find on the race course. I was able to tear a small hole in the corner of the sack and squeeze the water into my mouth as well as fold the sack over and run with it for a while without the fluid sloshing out. Some of the aid stations even had sprinklers to run through to cool off.

Around the 10k mark we turned around and ran into and up the hills outside of Victoria Falls. Only near the end of the race did we come back into civilization and finished in a nice athletic compound by running around a polo field. I was worn out by the end and finished in 76th overall with a time of 1:46 for 13.1 miles. I got a nice finishers medal, a T-shirt from the beer sponsor of the race, and a bottle of warm water. Within 10 minutes of me crossing the line for the half marathon the winner of the full marathon strode into the field and won with a time of around 2:25. He was flying and I didn't see anyone behind him, I figure he won by several minutes.
The bridge from Zimbabwe to Zambia

After stretching a bit, i was able to bum a ride back to the race start in the back of a pickup truck and walk back across the bridge into Zambia. After a quick shower we drove back to Lusaka (I slept in the back of the car) and got to the hotel in time for dinner and a good nights sleep.

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