Since my trend of lazy blog posting seems to be continuing, lets recap since the last entry. I ran in Run Jozi, of which there has been much media coverage, all of which is true, and there’s not much point going into it. Suffice to say it was incredible seeing more than 10 000 day-glo yellow shirts snaking down the streets, and hats off to Nike for the excellent marketing exercise. I was also supposed to run a 12km trail run at Owl’s Nest, which I didn’t make it to, for reasons that will become apparent shortly.
The real highlight of this post has got to be the Impi Challenge, a 12km obstacle run of complete and utter insanity. Even now, having come (mostly) unscathed out the other side, I still can’t quite believe that I entered, or that I finished. But more on that later.
In preparation for Impi, I joined Boot Camp South Africa for a two-hour training session, designed to teach participants how to deal with obstacles when fatigued. After having done several circuits of their military style obstacle course, which included monkey bars (when was the last time you attempted those) a cargo net, leopard crawling, balancing and flipping truck tyres across a sandpit, to name but a few, I was well and truly exhausted. I also realised I had zero hope of ever being able to climb a rope, considering I had enough trouble with the technique when I wasn’t about to drop down dead from lack of oxygen. The Boot Camp taught me a lot about how to tackle obstacles, which was great. It also left me feeling like the muscles in my arms were made of overcooked linguine, which was not so great.
The next morning, I woke up at 6am, an hour late to leave for my trail run, having inadvertently self sabotaged by forgetting to switch my alarm on. Probably a good thing, because I could barely move, every muscle from my neck to my knees was screaming in pain and I had about as much energy as an anaemic sloth. The stiffness in my arms took 5 days to recede to a level which made it possible to put on a shirt without crying. By the time Impi came around, I was almost back to normal. Great stuff.
Off I went to Impi, arriving at Van Gaalens Farm and immediately being struck by the superior level of fitness of every other entrant. Thankfully I didn’t end up starting in the last group, otherwise I might well still be out there. I did however start far enough back in the queue to watch the extremely fit and rather intimidating winner of Impi, who’s name I didn’t catch due to extreme nerves, finish about 2 minutes before I was due to start.
And then the gun went off, and we all ran. Straight into the river as it turns out, whereupon I promptly ran directly into a submerged branch, bruising my shins and falling over. From that point the obstacles became something of a blur of mud, leopard crawling, cargo nets, water, more mud, leopard crawling through mud, falling into mud, and water. Oh, and did I mention the mud?
I got to the first water point, was told I’d only done 4.5km, and almost cried. Then there was the Vit-T-Go Tank, an inappropriately named obstacle that consisted of a ten metre high cargo net. It caused a bit of a holdup, which upset some people but relieved me immensely since it gave me a chance to catch my breath. After being hoisted onto the cargo net by a nice gentleman, hitting my head, falling off and being hoisted up once more, I slowly and painfully made my way up, across, over and down. Not an experience I’d like to repeat anytime soon.
After that, the obstacles once again blurred, turning into some surreal survivor-esque hallucination in which I swam, climbed, crawled, fell and crossed rivers, once again with copious amounts of mud. And then I heard what sound like cannons going off, or flares being fired. It took my frazzled brain a minute to realise these were actually splashes of people falling into water from a great height. Ah, the Spur Leap of Faith. A ten metre plummet off a diving board into the river. Not something I was looking forward to. I bolted straight to the end of the diving board, taking the marshal’s advice to ‘just keep running’ and fell gracelessly off the end, forgetting that other important piece of advice – ‘keep your arms in’. I hit the water like a ton of bricks, with my arms out, about a nano second before the scream that was trying to escape actually managed. With the worst behind me, I kept going for the last 2km, interrupted only by a bridge, a leopard crawl, and some mud.
The last obstacle was the Lily Pads, two strings of rafts across the river which require the participant to sprint across, otherwise they sink. Considering I could barely move, sprinting was not going to happen. I made it about a third of the way across the first lot before I fell off, and crawled to the end. The second lot I made it almost halfway before I bailed again, and the nice marshal told me to rather just swim.
Miraculously, I finished, I wasn’t last, and I had managed to avoid serious injury. I was bruised, scraped and in pain, and that victory beer tasted like heaven. Impi’s slogan is “Are you tough enough?” My answer? No, not really, but I did it anyway.
I am an Impi Warrior!
PS. I’m writing this blog entry sitting on the airport floor by gate C10, waiting to board a flight to Cape Town for the Two Oceans. I’m doing the 10km trail run on Friday, wish me luck!
PPS. I’m still climbing Kilimanjaro in September. I’m trying to raise money for the Sandton SPCA, please visit www.projectpawprint.co.za and help me out.
PPPS. If you’re a corporate sponsor who’d like to throw some bucks my way, I’m happy to ensure you get return on investment with custom written press releases, wearing of logos and generally turning myself into a walking, climbing advert.