KNYSNA NEWS - It seems that some runners will go to great lengths to get, what is generally known as, their running fix.
Running partners Cameron Ward Able (left) and Steven van Lier (both of Knysna) were joined by their Johannesburg friend, Wayne Greybe to complete the cancelled Pick n Pay Cape Times Knysna Forest Half-Marathon route, closely followed by a 4x4, on Saturday, July 14.
Having missed the half-marathon entry deadline, but managing to secure one of the charity entries for the Pick n Pay Cape Times Knysna Forest Marathon, and after travelling the distance from Johannesburg to run his first Forest Half-Marathon, Wayne Greybe refused to be put out when the Disaster Management Team announced that the marathon as well as the half-marathon were cancelled due to the storm that raged throughout Knysna.
He, together with two Knysna friends, Cameron Ward Able and Steven van Lier, donned his all-weather gear and in awful conditions the three set out on the doomed half-marathon route to complete the cancelled race.
Van Lier, who entered the race in 2011 but had to withdraw due to an injury, was adamant that he was not going to miss the race again, "I was absolutely determined to finish this half-marathon that I had been training for," he explained.
Cameron Ward Able had run the race twice before and was not going to let his two friends set off without him.
The decision to run the route was not made without careful consideration. Under the eagle eye of Robert Bruce-Brand, who followed the three intrepid runners closely in his 4x4, the three set off from the Glebe at 07:45 to complete what they had trained to do, finish the 29th Pick and Pay Cape Times Knysna Forest Half-Marathon.
"After running the route, it was clear that the organiser took the correct decision in cancelling the race," said Greybe. Despite having run five minutes per kilometre for 17 kilometres he said that the it was extremely cold. "There would have been a serious risk of runners suffering from hypothermia should they have run any slower or walked in between their running," he said.
Besides the runners not being able to get to the taxi departure point in the flooded Vigilance Drive, the three explained that there were areas on the route that were knee-deep in water. "There would be no way that 6 800 runners would have been able to skirt around those. We had to pass one at a time and the thousands of runners would not have been able to pass safely," explained Greybe.
The three explained that the dirt road would never have survived the 6 800 pairs of feet. "Anybody who has seen what a herd of cattle can do to a road, will understand that the roads would have suffered unbelievable damage," said Bruce-Brand. "When I ran the Two Oceans this year, under very wet conditions, that finish was soon turned into a quagmire," said Greybe.
Bruce-Brand added that he had noticed several large trees that had fallen along the route and remarked that should one of those trees have fallen during the race it could well have injured scores of people.
The three runners completed 17 kilometres of the route in one hour 40 minutes. "We avoided the 4km loop as that was definitely too muddy," explained Van Lier.
Once the three crossed underneath the N2 on their home stretch, they noticed that several runners were running along the Lagoon Road. "There was quite a festive atmosphere; motorists were hooting, waving and cheering as we made our way towards the Festival Grounds," said Greybe.
As the Festival Grounds, which would have been the finish line, was flooded, the three used the gate into the Festival Grounds as their finish line, "even though we finished below a very sad-looking Pick n Pay banner which had been half blown down by the wind", smiled Greybe.
Ward Able took first place with Van Lier close on his heels. "That gives me the official third place," said Greybe. "Should the organisers decide to give me the prize money, I will definitely donate it to charity," he laughed.
When asked whether they would enter for the 2013 race, the three brave (some may argue) runners unanimously said that they are looking forward to the race. "Perhaps this year's entrants could have first option," they concluded.
A jubilant Wayne Greybe, after completing 17km of the 21km half-marathon route. He was determined to run the race after travelling from Johannesburg for his first Knysna Forest Half-Marathon.
ARTICLE: FRAN KIRSTEN, KNYSNA-PLETT HERALD JOURNALIST