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Whenever I travel anywhere I always consider if there is a possibility I can fit a run in…so when I first knew I was coming to Cape Town I got incredibly excited because I know they have parkrun here, and as a massive parkrun fan…why wouldn’t I try to fit it into my schedule.

In fact there are over 100 parkrun events in South Africa, my favourite named one being Piggly Wiggly in KNZ Inland. My event however would be GreenPoint Park, about a 15 minute taxi ride from my posh hotel on Lagoon Beach.

So I have been in Cape Town for just for 5 nights, here to give a talk called “Going the Distance” at the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa. My talk was scheduled for 11am on Saturday, and luckily parkruns start at 8am rather than 9am here…so it was looking quite possible that I could do it.

But not knowing anything about how popular parkruns are here or what type of people do them, I was a little apprehensive about being super slow. Luckily however, not enough to put me off going all together. It did take quite a bit of effort on my part though as the night before we had gone to an awesome restaurant called Stardust, and it had been quite a late (and a little boozy) night, and sharing accommodation with two other colleagues meant I had to be super prepared so as not to disturb them in the morning.

My alarm was set for 6.30am, but actually I woke up by myself at about 6am.

I had booked a taxi to get me to the start and I arrived in good time. The taxi driver was reluctant to leave me at the start area as nobody had arrived yet…but I know how parktun is, people leave it until 5 or 10 minutes before…I was there with about 30 minutes to spare, but it was a gorgeous sunny morning and I was just chuffed to be there.

17759899_10155154408255477_8324277538732112157_nA few moments later I spotted a guy in running attire, so I just wanted to check I was in the right place. Turns out Tony was the only other parkrun tourist there, and from the UK too.

The sun was out in full force already. I wish I’d brought shades. People were arriving from every direction, and I realised this was going to be a big event…692 in fact.

There were folks of all ages, all ethnicities, tons of dogs and pushchairs and much to my delight women who looked just like me…ensuring I wouldn’t feel completely self conscious in my Too Fat to Run tshirt.

The announcements started, Tony and I got a shout out as parkrun tourists and a round of applause, and then we were off.

It was manic. Not fast particularly. Just lots of bodies and lots of having to keep an eye on where you are running and the surfaces below your feet which seemed to change every 30 seconds or so. The route is an interesting one which loops back a few times giving you lots to look at.

I ran with no headphones and enjoyed just taking everything in. My legs felt tight as I had only arrived less than 48 hours previously. But I decided I would run the whole way, no matter my speed.

The sun was hot.

It flew by pretty quickly really. At one point I heard Tony shout “Go on Julie” in his deep Yorkshire accent…its one of the things I love about the sport of running, you can acquire friends very quickly.

One part of the route had spectacular views of the mountain above, and I couldn’t help but slow down to take a picture.

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Then we were heading into greenpoint park, a reasonably new addition to Cape Town next to the Stadium which was used in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which made the vuvuzela famous in the process.

I was feeling good. Knowing I was nowhere near last felt good…not that there is anything wrong with coming lost, but it gave me pleasure to know that there is such an interest in parkrun amongst slower runners and walkers here in Cape Town.

I looked at my Garmin and told me I had run almost 3 miles, so I knew the finish line was not too far away. By this point there were lots of runners walking back towards me having finished their race.

Thats when I spotted Tony with his camera, cheering me on with chants of, “Go on Julie, Go on” which really boosted me. He had hung around to see me finish, sending me the pictures he had taken of me a few hours later too.

I finished with an enormous sense of pride having made the effort to make it happen, and then I had to get my head in gear to get back to my hotel to shower and get ready for my talk which was set to happen in less than 2 hours later.

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It was an incredible experience. If you ever get the chance to do parkrun as a tourist go for it…running is a real leveller…and guess what? More than 100 folk came after me…so I was nowhere near last despite my fears.

I finished in 38.53…not a PB but hapy with it nether the less

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