Every year, just before the Surfers Marathon, Lilyfontein School, just north of East London, host the Annual Tomato Trot.
The Tomato Trot has a 15km race for Runners, Walkers, and Cyclists, all with their own start. Then there is also the 5km Fun Run, which has a combined start for Runners, Walkers, Cyclists, and just generally whatever means of manual transport there is. I have seen push-chairs, but as yet, no wheel chairs.
The annual Tomato Trot is held at the peak of the South African Summer, and temperatures are generally on the high side. For that reason, the races start in the late afternoon. There is always the chance that the competitors will be caught by a thunderstorm, as this is the time of year for thunderstorm activity, but that hasn't happened for a long time, that I know of.
The 2011 Lilyfontein Tomato Trot is today. This afternoon we are doing the Tomato Trot. Only the 5km mind you. 2 Years ago we were going to do the 15km Run, but less than a kilometre into the race I started having severe chest pains, and Terry and I withdrew.
Last year we did the 5km, and had a load of fun, so, this year it's the 5km again. And then a few frosties, a chill-out on the school field, and just generally see where the evening goes.
Our preparation for the Tomato Trot? Nothing!
We have kinda sorta, in a manner of speaking, been sorta training for the Surfers Marathon next week, but there is no way the two can be compared.
The Tomato Trot is generally all on hard surface, gravel and tar roads, with a few places going through farms, but still on fairly hard surfaces. And its dusty. And soon after the start there is one mean mother of a hill. I don't like hills. Hills beat up on me. hills are mean, nasty, ugly, and should be declared illegal. If it were not for hills I would enjoy running more.
Halfway up that first hill it levels a tad, just enough for you to get your breath back, and to allow you to start thinking consciously again. Generally the thoughts I have are not nice round about here. And then the sodding road goes around to the right a bit, and MORE uphill!
At the top of that uphill you get to turn right, and its a long road ahead, with an ever so slight climb, probably about 2m over 500m. Bear around th the left, slightly steeper, and a mean bank on the road. At this spot its better to stay at the top of the bank, even though cutting the corner is way shorter.
Then the road levels off, bears off to the right, and reaches the tar. At this point the 15km heroes go straight, and the 5km wimps take a sharp right!
Down the nice new flat tarred road, maybe 100m, left into Oribi Lawns, and then follow the circuit road through Oribi Lawns. At the bottom of the Oribi Lawns circuit is a watering point, and then another sodding uphill. And this is a long demented nasty one. I don't like uphills. About 400m before leaving Oribi Lawns, the road levels off, for about 300m, and then a little slope up to the entrance/exit, a sharp left onto the tar, and for the first time since starting it feels that finishing is possible. Just a little way further and there is another hill, but this time going in the right direction, DOWN!
Shamble and shuffle down the hill, turn right, and crawl up the track to the the finish.
The poor 15km heroes that were left to go straight on before Oribi Lawns will follow the road, down a long hill, and then up a long hill, until they reach the Brakfontein Road. A left turn onto the tar there will take them to the Tomato Packers sheds, where they will hang left onto a gravel road. By now they should be looking for passing Public Transport, because not too far away is probably the ugliest nastiest hill ever to be left standing. This thing is steep, and goes on forever. Should the heroes get beyond this point they will do a right at the top, and then mostly downhill before being diverted through another farm. It's downhill, and then its another mean , but thankully not too long uphill before they get to turn left, and run, cycle, walk down an easy slope until about 300 metres before turning right and going back uphill to the finish.
The 15km heroes are just that, heroes. One day maybe I'll try it again, and then I'll also be a hero.
Sitting in the office here, with doors and windows open, and a fan pushing the miserable hot air around there seems to be only a tiny little breeze out there. The temperature is in the early 30's, and humidity is relatively high.
This means hydration is going to be very important, and we have been drinking quite a bit already today. Just drinking is not going to be quite enough due to the loss of important minerals etc when we sweat, so we will be having an Energade or few, Coke, and water, pretty much as much as we can get into ourselves. The Coke will have to stop about an hour before the start, because running with Coke bloat is not fun. this past week we have been pretty good. Breakfast every day, small meals, and we actually have smoked less this week than we usually do.
But yeah, its time to get packed up and ready to go. I don't wanna do this, but I do wanna do it. I'm blond. And this will be my last Run as a youngster.