My Best Half Marathon So Far

Ridwan Wagiet 'in the mirrel' of the bus.

Ridwan Wagiet ‘in the mirrel’ of the bus.

I joined Itheko SAC in February 2013 as an absolute beginner. In March that year I participated in my first race – the Spar Ladies 10km which took forever to complete but I did it in 1h27m while weighing 112kg.

After a diligent stint of practicing twice in the week at the clubhouse and an LSD every weekend I entered the Safari Half Marathon. Coach Farouk escorted me all the way and brought me in at 3h20m and within the 4-hour cut off time.

After one more half marathon – the Jive Slave Route Challenge which I did in 3h15m – I finally broke the 3-hour barrier at Atlantis in August 2013 and with a few more races with my two good friends and mentors, Isgak and Fatima, I eventually achieved my best in 2014 in the Brackenfell Half Marathon with a time of 2H34m. So after 11 half marathons that sub-2h30m still seemed so elusive and the LOA Half Marathon on Saturday 31 January 2015 was just going to be one those races with my unattainable goal of a sub-2h30.

Mama Mia, was I wrong. When 2.0 [Aslam Galant and co.] passed me after about 2km into the race, I thought that I’d try to keep up with them for a while. Usually in other races, I let them pass with just a casual greet. After the 10km mark I realised I was still with them and achieved a PB for 10km at 1h08m and I said to myself: “Today is my day, just stick with them”. Of course the young ladies in the group – too many to mention – were also an attraction. Sensei Aslam Galant and Magedie Theunissen were the gurus. What inspired me was the special care Sensei had for me, given that I am almost a SASSA card carrier. “Stay with us. Hardloop in die mirrel. Te vinnag. Quarter notch down” – I still have to work out that quarter notch, lol. “Notch down on the up. Waar is Ridwan?”

And I was glad I could answer “I is still here”. PB at the 15km mark in 1h41m – my previous best was 1h43m – and now I could smell my 21km PB. That is until we turned into Constantia Main Road from Brommersvlei Road. Oh was I tired! My legs were nowhere. Sensei said: “Stay with us you’ll do your best today”.

Phew that last 3km looked so hard. Ah, a slight push from Gesant Abed and on we went. With two kilometres to go disaster struck. My PB tripped, and I fell – propitiously – because I was as Sensei demanded “in die mirrel”. I fell against the others before meeting Mother Earth. A slight pause and from Sensei: “Are you alright? Lets go” – all in seconds. And so the end was nigh, and with my PB in sight, the last kilometre became a breeze and I crossed that line in 2h21m and carrying a weight of 91.5kg.

Anything is possible within reason. With encouragement one can achieve things beyond your wildest dreams. In this case I bettered my first Half Marathon by an hour and my previous best by thirteen minutes and was 20kg lighter.

At LOA ITHEKO SAC dreams like these are possible

Thanks again Sensei Aslam, the gorgeous ladies in TWO POINT O, the illustrious and ever present Isgak and Fatima – remembering Winelands 2013 – and the ubiquitous coach FAROUK MEYER who guided me on my first Half marathon in 2013.

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