Huffing and puffing before dawn

2010-03-12 00:00

BEFORE the orange haze of dawn emerges beyond the horizon, human breath   mingles   with   the   Pieter- maritzburg mist.

You see them from a distance, illuminated under a veil of pink light, cast by the red traffic lights on the unusually quiet Victoria Road.

The cyclists are easier to spot, often in large groups. Their light-emitting diodes (LED) flash alternately, sending twinkles of white light ahead of them.

By 4.30 am the street is abuzz with teams of cyclists, runners, joggers and walkers.

Chatting to each other through gentle huffs and puffs, the early morning exercisers greet the day by rejuvenating their bodies after the stillness of night.

The parking lot of the shopping centre on Victoria Road is crammed by 5 am. Gym goers, cyclists, runners and walkers abandon their cars, which slowly develop a film of dew, while they spend the early morning strengthening and toning their bodies­.

Frans Spring arrives at the parking lot by 4.30 am three times a week. He spends an hour running with friends on these days.

He says that he runs in the mornings because “when you have a job you don’t know if you’ll have time afterwards. In the mornings you are guaranteed a run.”

Warwick and Shan Hulbert, from Wembley, also use the Victoria Road centre as the starting point of their runs.

“We run three to four times a week for an hour. We usually gym afterwards, but it is running season now so we are running more.”

They say that Victoria Road is a good place to start as it is flat. Shan says that it is also a good place to return to as there is a coffee waiting at the Kauai situated in the gym.

Pat van Staden and Maureen Breda, who are part of a social walking group, agree that the coffee after their weekly walk from Victoria Road makes the social aspect of exercising that much better.

Cyclists Warwick and Frances Weedan from Hayfields cycle about 30 kilometres from the parking lot every Tuesday and Thursday. They say they use Victoria Road because the parking is good, there are flat parts to ride on and “the early mornings are best for traffic,” says Warwick­.

Besides the bustle on the street, Virgin Active is also a hive of activity.

Seen through the large glass windows men and women of varying ages create an atmosphere of vibrant energy; this constant movement is reflected by the up-tempo music that can be heard faintly from outside the building.

By 7 am the sun has made itself comfortable in the sky and Victoria Road erupts with the sounds of cars, minibus taxis and pedestrians.

Not until the next morning will it be a silent haven for the cyclists and runners of Pietermaritzburg.



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