endurance events

My first Vaal Marathon – Qualifier for the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon

Despite lack of training due to an injury, I managed to qualify for the 56km Two Oceans Ultra Marathon 2017 by finishing the Cape Gate Vaal Marathon. I have always wanted to run the Two Oceans Marathon and as my company I work for Garmin is the technical sponsor for the race I was able to arrange an entry. However, in order to be able to run the 56km Ultra Marathon you still have to run a qualifying Marathon in under 5 hours, which had to be done by latest the 6th March. So basically the Vaal Marathon on the 5th March was my last option to qualify for the race.

Since January I have been visiting my physiotherapist, chiropractor and biokineticist almost weekly to help me recover from a knee pain and then shortly after sorting out my knee my posterior tibial tendon in my right ankle started to give me issues. Needless to say it has been a tough few months and I have not been able to get into a consistent training regime.

Prior to running the Vaal Marathon my longest run was a 20km so I knew that as the race is a double-lap course the second lap was going to be tough. The Vaal Marathon is very popular as it is one of the flattest marathons in Gauteng to qualify for both Two Oceans and the Comrades Marathon and so you have to get your entry in early.

The race is based in Vereeniging which is over an hours drive from our house in Blairgowrie, Johannesburg. Even though we left our house just after 4am to get to the start of the race we got stuck in the most horrendous traffic and nearly missed the start. So for anyone looking to do this marathon in future I recommend you leave at least 30-40minutes earlier than you planned to as parking is a bit of a nightmare.

The first 21km of the race I was feeling surprisingly good and managed to get under 2hours so I was on track for a sub-4hr Marathon. However, the second lap is where I really struggled and I could tell it was purely due to a lack of training especially having missed a lot of my long runs on the weekends prior to the race. The course is very, very flat which you would think would make it a lot easier but in fact I personally prefer a course with ups and downs as it helps prevent your muscles from taking strain as quickly as they do on a flat course (click here to see the route profile). I still managed to finish the race in 4hrs09 which is my worst time to-date for a marathon but it still meant I was able to qualify for the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon.

I am now focused on running my first Two Oceans Ultra Marathon. I have unfortunately been dealt another small speed bump this week having caught a throat infection but I am on antibiotics and taking it easy this weekend so I can have a solid week of training next week.

So yes I am sure you can tell that it has been a very frustrating few months getting back into my running but I am learning that I have to force myself to stay positive and keep aiming to move forward no matter what speed bump comes in my pathway.

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