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Monday, May 17, 2010
Insanity. That's the only valid excuse anyone should have for tackling the Mweni Marathon. every year outpatients of the institution of the 'mad for running' fraternity descend, or rather ascend, to the Mweni cultural centre in the Northern Drakensberg to take part in the Mweni Marathon, a 37-40km (depending on which paths you take) cross country marathon that takes runners up and over the Drakensberg escarpment, taking in a vertical kilometre of climbing (and another one of descent). The run takes competitors up the rocky pass of Mweni, across a small saddle in the mountain and down the aptly named Rockeries Pass. The terrain is grueling to say the least. To take the word of one experienced runner, "it's harder to run than Comrades", although he added the promising caveat, "but you recover quicker".
Ha! Usually, I'm one of those mad enough to compete. At any rate I have subjected myself to the insanity that is the race for the past two years. Still nursing an injury from the 2009 event I volunteered to marshall and, as a favour, take pictures of the runners as they crested Mweni Pass.
In order to be at the marshalling point on time I had to leave the day before the event and climb Rockeries Pass, arriving at the top of Mweni at 7 in the evening. A lovely balmy, for winter, night belied the wet and miserable day that was to follow. Most of the runners saw little but the 10 metres directly in front of them for large portions of the day, as clouds descended to create all but a complete white-out. Miracles occurred and nothing serious happened by the end of the day (by serious, I mean someone walking off a mountain - in contrast to out - or requiring a helicopter to get them out...the odd stitch and sweepers, myself included, emerging from the mountains close to midnight is considered normal!).
And to end...here I am saying never, ever, again....until next year that is. It's hard to kick a habit when you are insane.
Posted by Emil von Maltitz at 12:19 PM