When you hear the word “jogger” most of us have an image of a sweaty guy in a vest running on a road somewhere. Some of us are even able to conjure a whole video sequence of a fresh-faced, luscious girl who’s running through a park with a light breeze ruffling her blond hair, dressed in yoga pants and a crop-top that’s barely containing the bouncing twins. And those of you who didn’t see that initially, do know.
One can find a wide spectrum of joggers. On the one end you get the bat-shit-crazy kind who considers an ultra-marathon like most people consider dessert. Just a little dish on the side. On the other end you have a middle-aged guy fat guy who streaks across a rugby field, sloshed out of his wits. The clearest indicator to establish where in the spectrum a jogger is, would be to suggest a 10 km run. Or like the people who are still living in the middle ages call it, 6,2 miles.
The concept of running 10 km was more foreign to me than Mandarin. Why would anyone want to? If you’re good, then it would still take you an hour. Of running. Non-stop. On the road. There are people who find a normal stretch of 10 km road boring, so they rather follow a rocky path through hills and valleys. They call themselves trail runners. I reckon they should call themselves stupid. And then there are some who, are a very special kind of stupid, who prefers to run on a path that has a few obstacles in the mix. Obstacles meaning contraptions of logs, drums, poles, ropes, rings, trenches, tires, water, mud and all other kinds of random shit; which you then need to jump over, climb up, crawl under, hang on, flip over, swim through and then finally jump off again.
Well, dearest readers, here’s the surprise. Ah Dad…has completed his first ever Warrior Race, which is a 10 km trail run with twenty-two obstacles scattered along the way. I finished my race three weeks ago, but the recovery took longer than expected. At least I can sit and type now. Walking is a different story. Weird thing is, I didn’t lose a bet, nor was it a dare. It was a voluntary entry by yours truly, a little moment in my life that I like to call was-I-fucking-crazy? I have to admit, it was a momentary lapse of reason prompted by three things. (1) I discovered crossfit. (2) I opened my big mouth about it. (3) C who has done an Epic, suggested I enter the Jeep Warrior Race. So I did.
Long story short, I had twelve weeks to train before the big day. Regulars would know I play with weights every now and again, so I wasn’t overly concerned about the obstacles. (I should have been but they don’t call me Captain Hindsight for nothing!) I was concerned about the distance. Very daunting indeed. There is unfortunately only one way to train for running and that is to start running. I dragged my weary body onto the road every afternoon, five days a week. The great thing about that first 3 km was that I didn’t die, even though it felt like I did. As easy does it, I finally reached the pivotal 10 km mark, one week before race day. I was jumping up and down like Rocky on top of the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Only without the hoody, theme music and extreme buff body. So it was actually nothing like Rocky.
Then came race day.
I was more anxious than usual and had a constant need to pee. My support team, Wife and Princess, was extremely patient and didn’t talk much, fearing that their heads might be bitten off due to the excess adrenalin that was flooding the veins of my forty-plus body. I was perspiring like a hippo in heat. Standing at that starting line I was as nervous as a grazing gazelle, smelling a lion on the Savannah.
To say that I was the oldest runner at the start would be an understatement. Each batch has around 100+ runners and my presence increased the average age of my batch with 3 years and two months. The race mascot didn’t allow us anytime to sulk or regret our decision, as he was attempting to channel our anxiety and anticipation into all the right places. It worked. I was ready. Let’s go. And so we did.
Every batch has Rookies, who are clever people competing in the 5 km race. The few of us who was hit in the head and wanted to risk overexposure, sunburn and heat-exhaustion were quickly lead onto a different path, the Commando route. A route where one would see your dead ancestors a couple of times. It was hot and I was alone but not in a sexy kind of way. After a very long time the first obstacle appeared like a mirage on the horizon. A drum roll. And I don’t mean I heard one, it was an actual spinning drum which one had to roll over. I attacked the obstacle with everything in me and came to a spectacular, crashing halt on the other side of the drum. I laid there on the cargo net for a moment thinking: “This is only number 1! Fuck.” (Sorry kids but desperate times calls for desperate measures.) There were only 21 more to go.
I eventually lost count of the obstacles I completed, I just wanted to not pass out. I kept my focus and just ran and jumped, ran and climbed, ran and crawled, ran and hang, run and do whatever I had to do in order to make it across the obstacle. At various points throughout the race my brain was arguing with my legs, arms, lungs, sweat glands and dry throat. They say it’s not important how many times you want to quit, it’s more important that you don’t. Start.
I’m happy to report that my stubbornness came through and I persevered. At one stage I started to hallucinate and saw a bunch of Springbok happily jumping across the bush trail I was running on. It made me smile for a second or two. Turns out it wasn’t an hallucination after all…
The scenery was really awesome and I eventually found my stride. The last few obstacles involved a lot of water and it was fantastic to soak my weary body in the brown, muddy liquid. The refreshing feeling soon gave way to exhaustion as I was trying to get out of the mud pits. Let’s just say it took a lot of ass pushing and arm pulling from total strangers to get me up there. It was the weirdest orgy I’ve ever been in. Not that I’ve been in that many, but if we didn’t have clothes on, I might have fathered a child. I think we looked like a human stew.
At this point Princess could see me sweat and she was running around with a camera like a journalist in a war-torn country; not knowing where to shoot and where not to. I faked my excitement every time she pointed the camera in my general direction. The final obstacle was the 6m Tower of Terror which I jumped off without hesitation, simply because one had to, in order to cross the finish line.
Everyone who finishes are called a Warrior! which is why I’m also one today. Three hours after the race I felt like a million bucks, albeit a million bucks with a couple of bruises, scrapes and a few stiff joints. On route back home I was stoked and felt supercharged, knowing I’ve done something I’ve never thought I would. I even convinced myself that it was the most fun I had in a very long time. Arriving home I made a decision that didn’t surprise my Wife:
I was going to enter the next one too.