Don’t drive. Run

2012-04-03 07:25

David Moseley

It's going to be an expensive week. With petrol prices rising into the sky higher than the Burj Khalifa, morale amongst motorists and eaters of food around South Africa is sure to plummet. That means drowning your sorrows and, with some bars charging up to R25 for a beer, that means empty pockets all round by Friday (naturally, because you’re a good citizen, you’ll call a cab to take you home, further eroding your measly middle-ish of the month bank balance).

In this week of despair, though, we should follow in the words of White Goodman and tell petrol to “Cram it up your cramhole, Petrol”. We need a pick-me-up, and what better positive energy to endorse than the natural high of running or, in my case, walking slowly really fast.

As it happens, this national week of "Here Shell, Have My Entire Salary" coincides with the running of the Two Oceans Half and Ultra Marathon (for fans of religion there's also Easter to look forward to, but judging from last week's – remember last week? It's like soooo last year on social networks - hot cross bun debacle, Easter could also drive you to drink).

Two Oceans time, though, is a weekend of happiness, and if you're coming to Cape Town to do the Two Oceans Trail, Half or Ultra you should feel the rush of enough endorphins - things in your brain that make you feel stoked when you exercise, have sex (orgasm, to be more specific) or eat spicy food (my love for samoosas explained!) - to take your mind off the general decay of your real life for at least eight days (not scientifically guaranteed, mind). Running. It's the only way forward.

See your country

I don't want to sound like some born-again plodder, but I am (minus donations). It's a great sport, the people's sport. Anyone can do it. And it takes you places you'll never go (and usually can't go in an ice-cap melting, polar bear-murdering car).

For instance, up until I started running, I knew nothing about the unspoiled trails and paths on Table Mountain (Table Mountain Challenge), I'd never been to Knysna (Knysna Half Marathon) and was completely unaware that the loud banging noise you hear in Cape Town every day belongs to a cannon (The Gun Run). I thought Darling (Darling 21km) was just another Pieter-Dirk Uys character and steadfastly believed that anyone who lined up to start a half marathon, let alone a full or an ultra, should be escorted to the nearest padded room.

Running is almost as much fun as drinking (certainly more enlightening) ice-cold beer. For example, just last Friday I veered right instead of left on my usual Urban Gentrification 10km (my self-titled loop through my 'burb, sponsorship pending). I ran through a taxi rank, under a train station, past a KFC, through rush-hour traffic and zig-zagged in and out of people making their way home.

It all sounds very similar. But it's not. These are the places, roads that I usually have no reason to drive along filled with people I would never connect with, where running takes you.

See something different

Running can take you over mountains with rock-hopping ascents followed by clenched-teeth, squeaky-bum descents. Or it can take you through townships, like the Gugs 10km, where the smell of a Smiley being braaied at 6am will stay with you forever. I go back to Grahamstown, and I run hitherto unknown trails just one kilometre from the only well-worn paths I followed while studying at Rhodes.

So, when I'm lining up for my first ultra marathon this Saturday, I won't be thinking about torching my car and telling the bank to smoke it's repayments, I'll be thinking of where I've been on my own two feet, and where I'm still going to go...

(Yes, yes, I need my car to get to all these places. But that's not the point. Running makes you happy. And fitter. Which makes you live longer. Which means you have to pay more. And incur more debt. Any pay higher petrol prices. Now running makes me sad. But running is fun. That's the point).

*David is running his first Two Oceans Ultra on Saturday, for no charity and no special cause. He just wants to finish before the sun sets. And then we'll talk sponsorship...

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  • johan.blertsie.cilliers - 2012-04-03 08:08

    I'd recommend cycling for commuting purposes.

  • lakesidemaynes - 2012-04-03 08:14

    I've never seen a happy looking runner. Many people have perished during marathons over the years. Running is a blood sport and should be avoided at all costs.

      LindiBleu - 2012-04-03 08:41

      ha ha I like that, running as a blood sport!!! I agree with Dave, run and reduce ur carbon footprint and the petrol need. as I say, I'm not affected by the petrol price cos I run on fat!

      justin.pretorius - 2012-04-03 09:13

      Actually you are right! It looks like they are in pain all the time but I guess it might be the endorphins that kick in afterwards. I would rather cycle though than run

  • Johann - 2012-04-03 09:39

    Awesome read :) I am doing my first Trail Run on the 15th 7kms in the bush, thru rivers, over hills on dirt tracks...going to be epic

  • john.ansell2 - 2012-04-03 10:40

    Running, particularly ultra-distance, takes you places you would never go otherwise. It also changes the way you look at yourself - the first time you pass the 42.2km mark and keep going is a moment you'll remember for the rest of your life.

  • Cheslyn - 2012-04-03 10:41

    Someone in government is going to have to get real creative about commuting as a car is no longer an option for some people...Bicycling racks, routes and safety support, will be better

  • Vaaldonkie - 2012-04-03 11:23

    A pair of good running shoes every three months will cost about the same in a year than my fuel bill.

  • Ria - 2012-04-03 13:38

    Yes!! I have recently retired and decided to walk the 1,5km to my local shopping centre on every second day. My car always had a flat battery because I drive so little and for such short distances. It became such a hassle that i have now given up on driving my car. Two new batteries a year and a compulsory trip every few days just to keep my battery going. Costs a great deal in petrol just to keep the battery going. Much easier to give up on driving the car. I have decided to go green and walk to the shops every second day unless i have dinner guests and then i walk every day. Good for the heart and blood circulation, good for breathing deeply, good for the mind and spirit to get out in the fresh air. I am fortunate in that my doctor, chemist and hairdresser are all in the same shopping centre. The supermarket is reasonable and there is a butcher, a videoshop and a pub. I paid supertax for most of my life. I still pay a huge amount of tax on what i have put aside for my old age/retirement. Eat your hearts out ANC government, I still pay huge taxes, I still receive nothing in return but as long as i am able to walk you cannot steal petrol or toll fees from me any other. i have been walking 1,5km to the shops every 2nd day for the past 18 months and i intend to do so for a long time to come i am truly green. i use the minimum of electricity, i use no petrol, I use very little water. Your big problem is that there are too many people. There were about 4mil in the 1960s. There

      Ria - 2012-04-03 13:53

      There were about 8 mil people in SA in the 1960s There are about 50 mil in 2012, the greatest threat to the environment are people. Let's limit the number of people. let's stop this unbridled breeding of people who should need a licence to breed. The very people who should not breed have bred themselves out of schools, hospitals, roads, water, electricity,

  • Ria - 2012-04-03 13:45

    Hi Dave, yes i wish i could run but I am 60 years old. I was one of the "baby boomers". We set the trends in the 1960s and 1970s and 1980s. You probably don't even remember.

      ilene.barrington - 2012-04-08 09:25

      Ria, a friend of mine's cousin just ran her first Oceans half. She just turned 6o. There were 18 people running the Ultra, all over 70, age is not an excuse not to run. I will not even tell you about the 80 year olds that pass me on races on a regular basis. Join run/walk for life - and start living :-)

  • Andrew Stuart Tombs - 2012-04-04 08:10

    Good luck!

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