Monday, 11 July 2011

The Jikeleza Jog 2011 all wrapped up

By Kath Fourie (official photog and walking casualty of the JJ2011)
It’s now been a few days since I arrived back home from the Jikeleza Jog 2011, and I've had a bit of time to process the event. Actually I find it weird to refer to it as an ‘event’, because running down the Wild Coast for three days is not like an ordinary race. It’s not rigidly structured, it’s not branded to hell and back – it’s an organic natural experience, a way to get from A to B without more than a bottle of water and a good pair of trainers. The path varies, it swerves, it dips, it goes through water, over rocks and sometimes it disappears altogether. And that is how trail runners like it.
It should be noted though, that I am not a trail runner. Running anything longer than 8km makes me feel like a frikkin’ Comrades veteran, that’s how proud I feel. So imagine my relief when I kicked off half a toenail and had to remove a chunk of toe with my Leatherman – I had the perfect excuse not to run the 21km on Day 2! Shew! The lengths I go to just to avoid running…
The general pattern was that I would set out earlier than the nine dedicated runners, who had their homing devices set on the end point of Chintsa, and try and catch them cruising past me for decent shots. My problem was that the whole lot of them were so speedy I’d be half way to where I wanted to be when they’d catch me! Click, click, click…and they’d be gone. After which I was forced to take pictures of the extremely horrendous surroundings of blue skies, massive cliffs, exploding waves, green fields, Nguni cows, friendly local people, boats., flowers, sea life…terrible job really.
In the end though, I think the runners had a pretty awesome time. Some of them had never done trail running before, others had never run over 10km, and still others were super-fit running gurus who even had special compression tights to wear at the end of the trail. And some liked to pull the leg hairs that stuck out of said tights while certain individuals were not looking. The camaraderie was pretty special, and I can’t really think of a more diverse, kiff group – the conversation was never dull that’s for sure. Especially when Ethel told us she genuinely thought she saw a lion in the bush and ran for her life…the tears that rolled down my cheeks were only matched in size by the stitch in my stomach from laughing.
In the end there was no real ‘winner’, the entry size didn’t warrant a fair field to create a serious race format but people kept times and we have a really good idea of how to manage the jog next year. I will still refuse to call it an event, because I believe the Jikeleza Jog is beyond that…it’s kinda special. Like so special that I hope it doesn’t grow beyond a certain size – I like knowing everybody by name, and being able to hug my runners goodbye and know that I really want to see all of them again is kind of wonderful.
So I am really looking forward to 2012, another three days of tramping the Wild Coast, hopefully with an extra photographer and a clever game plan to get more pics of the runners! As hard as I tried, running with a D60 smashing into your diaphragm is not the best. I am thinking of using a horse…or a hot air balloon…or a bicycle…or an ELEPHANT! Genius…maybe Ethel wasn't so far off about the lion?
Thanks to everyone who ran and to Sarah and Paul for organizing the run. It was a seriously cool few days in June, and my feeling is there’ll be quite a lot more people on it in 2012.