I’m now practising long tar runs which follow relatively long trail runs — as my two events, 22 k Trail, and 21 k Half, are on consecutive days, so the weekend before last, with the Spar Peter Gradwell Memorial Marathon, Half Marathon and 10 k races diarised for Sunday, we were dispatched by Dave to do 4k and 11 k respectively, on dirt, the day before. We chose Haka Game Park, a lovely place to run, cycle, walk, whatever, and set off for once sans hounds.
With such differing distances, instead of “running rings around” Sarah, the better to accompany her while getting extra distance and speed in, this time we separated on a disused dirt track. I roared off, blissfully enjoying the scenery and the wildebeest. My cellphone rang. “There’s a snake in the road!” a rather shaken Sarah stammered. I don’t want to miss the opportunity to enjoy a snake, it’s a rare occurrence — though we’ve been doing rather well, lately!
I rushed back. Sarah had, of course, safely withdrawn some distance from the offending creature. But she knew I’d want to take a peek and had established it hadn’t gone anywhere. She’d spotted it only just in time, running while concurrently adjusting her waist-water-bottle-holder. Suddenly, there it was, draped elegantly across the dirt track, showing no intention of going anywhere.
She got quite a fright, practically levitated, and put a safe distance between her and snake! She described it by phone as yellow and black striped. My immediate assumption was the snouted (aka Egyptian) cobra — the banded version, as these also come in plain grey-black, and we grew up calling them “Banded Cobras”, but like so many wild creatures, someone decided to rename them! We walked cautiously back up the road — no snake now to be seen. Had it gone? Now, this is definitely not a snake to mess with! These and the black mamba are responsible for fair numbers of deaths by snake bite across our continent each year.
Something suddenly caught my eye in a well-established tufted area of grass and other vegetation in the middle of this little used dirt road. On closer inspection, I did espy — one dull yellow band, one black, peeking out of the greenery — and realised the snake had not gone anywhere, but instead settled down to continue its quiet basking nap from which Sarah had disturbed it, right in the middle of the road and right in our path, not three metres from us. We tried not to think too hard about how easy it would have been to stand on it while roaring along at a run!
Don’t get me wrong — I really enjoy snakes and find them truly fascinating but am on the careful lookout for them on my bush adventures and certainly try not to step too close — not till I know what species it is. So many are harmless, but this one decidedly was not!
It didn’t move so I got a bit closer to have a look and a “snouted cobra in the banded phase”, as is the correct terminology, it assuredly was, about a metre and a half, very relaxed, sleepy probably, and somewhat disproving my theory that generally speaking, a snake, other than an adder, will get out of your way as fast as it can.
We stood still and admired it — what we could see of it anyway —and after a few minutes, it decided it would mosey off into the verge, giving us a much better view as it went, so we could appreciate its beauty. Still, it didn’t go far. Moral of story — keep a beady eye peeled when on the run in the bush!
Sarah reversed direction somewhat warily and I accompanied her at the run to the car, then returned to add my extra mileage, keeping well alert to all things in the road and by it!
Good outing at Spar sponsored races
The following day we got up at crack of dawn (not our favourite thing!) and sallied forth for the 10 and 21 k races respectively, setting off from Old Georgians. Over 250 turned up for the Spar sponsored running events organised by HAC. This was Sarah’s first one ever. She enjoyed her 10 k and finished in a most respectable time.
Fellow Two Oceans Half training pals Gill and Paul and various others we know joined in the fun.
Estimating it would take me 2¼ to 2½ hours, I was totally thrilled to run my fastest Half Marathon ever, at 2 hours 21 seconds, and even, as I discovered later, to be listed as “1st Master Lady” — an expression which, though the correct runners’ lingo for those over 50 (which I’m not ashamed to admit) had me in stitches . . . now, I am strutting about “Mistress-fully” — or “Master-fully”— or something like it, with that much sought after “Sub — 2 Hours Half’”in Cape Town, potentially in my sights!
By Rosie Mitchell