So the Paris marathon is over. I had a few moments of sadness especially when watching some of the runners and feeling the incredible energy but I know in my heart of hearts that after my ankle injury it would have been foolish and a very, very tough run to do given that I would not have been fit enough after resting. However, more than the marathon, South Africa was very much on my mind. What a complicated relationship I have with our glorious country.
With all the drama surrounding Zuma (an embarrassment in my eyes) last week I felt quite sad as all I (and I’m sure many) want is to be proud of my country and all it offers. I entered the pre-marathon breakfast run (it was 5km) so that I would at least feel some of the excitement of the marathon weekend and get to run the streets of Paris with many others from around the world. For the breakfast run, 3500 runners from different countries wore their colours in some form. I bought the largest South African flag possible and wore it as a cape (thanks to Steve Bonthrone @pt_steveb for giving me the idea!). It was superb being there and seeing all the different countries and for that brief moment, no one cared about anything other than supporting and cheering each other on. There were some hilarious outfits too and many runners really made so much effort which was lovely to see. One of my best moments, however, was having 3 guys shout “goeie more” to me while I was in mid run. And yet while it was amazing and I wore my SA cape with great pride, at the back of my mind was the dismal behavior of Zuma and the disappointment he brings that clouds my love for my country.
On Sunday, marathon day, I stood on the sidelines and cheered and clapped (I think my hands are still sore) and yes, went ballistic when I saw a South African runner. Oh the joy! The camaraderie was palpable and it reminded me again of what lovely people South Africans are, how we are so loyal and committed, how we beam with pride when one of our own (no matter who) does well. And I thought about what an extremely beautiful country South Africa is. I see so much beauty when I travel but know and appreciate that we have it too. Sometimes even more so. And how for so many other reasons we have reason to be proud and optimistic and yet hanging over all of that, I felt Zuma tarnished that day too.
Update: now that I am back in Cape Town and my holiday is over, it’s time to up my training to prepare for some fabulous trail runs I have coming up. In 10 days’ time I’ll be attempting the Jonkershoek Mountain Challenge (24km) and then a month later, I will be heading to the Drakensberg to do 65km’s of trail in the Giants Cup annual trail challenge. Exciting times ahead!