Heels over Head: 5 reasons to take your running shoes to Kuruman

2013-10-30 08:45

Don’t order calamari rings in a place that plays country music and other revelations from a trip to Kuruman in the Northern Cape.

1. Beat the trucks

Kuruman has the N14 running through it, and like many small towns, much of the accommodation activity is concentrated around the main road. Loud purring trucks frequent the road throughout the day and also throughout the night.

If you’re a light sleeper, you’re likely to be awake before first light because of this. Then you have a choice of tossing in your bed and listening to the trucks until you get up, or to go out running. Obviously you’d rather go running.

2. Meet the locals

There is nothing like getting out of your car and on foot if you want to meet locals – anywhere in the world, really. Mostly locals aren’t too bad, and most of the time they’d have something to say about someone who runs and who looks like a stranger, whether they are in their cars or out on the streets.

Most often they just think runners are mad and weirdly dressed, but in Kuruman two young guys walking to work decided to have an impromptu workout session. You might want to try and warn them that they’ll be outrun soon, but it’s more fun to have them discover that themselves – after a mere five minutes or so.

3. Get a glimpse of The Eye

Trespassing is one of my favourite things to do, especially when in a town you don’t know. Then you can always claim ignorance and rest assured that you’ll probably never have to deal with the angry farmer/homeowner/government official/security guard/policeman/armed soldier again.

So when I spotted a missing pole in the gate leading up to the gate of the famous Die Oog in Kuruman, I slipped in to take a closer look. There was another fence around the dam without a hole in it, which meant my trespassing ended there, but I could get close enough to see the clear water of the largest known spring in the southern hemisphere. Better still, there was nobody around to disturb the peace.

4. Lose the Kalahari calamari

Although instinct should warn you not to eat seafood in small, landlocked settlements, there is always the hope that good refrigerator technology in the 21st century and TV shows like Masterchef have changed that. It hasn’t. Don’t order calamari rings in a place that plays country music.

Also don’t order the salad. But if you do, and if hunger drives you to bravely soldier through part of your meal, running will make you feel new and cleansed the next morning.

5. See our national flower

There is something lacking in the rubbish collection in Kuruman. Whatever it is, some of the open areas in town that we as trail running city runners are attracted to, are actually informal dumps of some sort.

Not particularly attractive, but, nonetheless, like the fine print on the election posters up on the lamp posts, something I wouldn’t have noticed without running shoes.

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