Running For Happiness!

Before I signed up for the 100km walk, I signed up for the infamous 14km City2Surf run that takes place every winter in Sydney from the centre of the city to the world famous Bondi beach.

And, in preparation for the City2Surf run I signed up for a much lesser known run called The Jabulani Challenge which takes place this coming weekend. My friend at work pointed it out as she is trying to do more runs and wanted the challenge and so, of course, do I. Having just signed up for City2Surf and feeling quite unsure about it I was pleased to be able to have a ‘practise run’.

The Jabulani Challenge takes place in a National Park just a few kilometres north of me and should be a nice opportunity to see a bit more of the bushlands around there. For that reason and the nerves around City2Surf it is good to know I have somewhere where I can go and smash out 12km and get an idea for how I’m going to perform, what I need to work on, what I need to bring next time that I forgot or didn’t think of etc etc. Plus my friend I’m going with is not a hard out runner and is keen to just walk if the need takes her and that relaxes the whole event for me. It’s just me and her giving it our best shot in a great setting of Sunday morning.

The thing is, I’ve only ever run fun runs of no more than 7km and the thought of a 12km or 14km run is actually pretty scary.

City2Surf is a big event – heaps of people who know exactly what they’re doing or have already run this race will be turning up. In fact, several people from my work are running in it – we’ve entered as a team, although we will not run together so that everyone can take it at our different paces. Thank goodness. Can you imagine anything worse than being the one dying trying to keep up, or making everyone wait for you?

The size of this event and the fact it is in the city means that you have to be super-prepared – know what you need, get up early, get there and get yourself sorted before your starting group goes out. This in itself scares me – I am a bit of a stress-head about forgetting something I need, and as a consequence I usually bring too much. Which is one reason until now I’ve never really been a runner – I don’t travel light very well! Which is fine when I’m just running in my neighbourhood.

So yeah, I have the fear of not being prepared and/or forgetting something.

I have a bit of a crowd fear too. Although I actually prefer running ‘with’ people to without as it spurs me on and keeps me going much longer.

But, of course I have fears about simply not being able to DO the race too – there is a well known leg of this race – around 2km of pure hill climb – called Heartbreak Hill (yah thanks whoever named that – I’m finding so much faith in myself now). Check out the route here – it is around 6-8km that Heartbreak Hill kicks in. For me, fear of the unknown is half the problem here. I considered going to try and run it (it’s on the other side of the city so that would have been an effort but maybe worth while) but I realised knowing what I was in for might actually make it worse – if I found it too difficult it would make me more nervous. So I’ve just tried to NOT avoid hills (which I have to confess I try to do on my runs usually – especially in the summer heat!) when I’ve been training.

It is 17 days until this run and I’m already bricking it in a minor way. Which makes me wonder how on earth do people run the London Marathon etc?

I guess that is part of the reason I’m doing it. Because if I don’t I’ll always have this fear – best just to go and give it a damn good try I suppose.

So yeah race one of two this weekend which will signal what I feel to be the start of the build to my big challenge – the 100km walk. While my signing for the Jabulani Challenge stemmed from having signed up for City2Surf (and needing that practice run), both races, unintentionally have served to be just stepping stones to build up to the most exciting part of my year (apart from when Mr OC and I got engaged back in January of course!) – the Walk for Hunger.

jabulani challenge
Courtesy of Jabulani Challenge

Incidentally, Jabulani means ‘be happy’ in Swahili – or ‘rejoice’, ‘celebrate’, ‘come to bring happiness to everybody’, and the Jabulani challenge is an event supporting two charities for the developing world. Firstly, there is the SCDP (Stellenbosch Community Development Program) a charity who had a goal of improving the education of children in Kayamandi but then realised most of these kids were actually malnourished. They now provide 1800 children with one meal a day as well as immunisation, a vegetable garden and many other programmes.  And it’s working – the numbers of malnourished children decreases year on year – from 900 to 275 in just 3 years. This race is their largest donor.

Then there is the Shoes For Planet Earth organisation who provide recycled running shoes to those in need around the world.

You can sponsor me for both my races (more details on City2Surf charity in a later blog). If you feel you would like to make only one donation in the coming months, I ask that you choose my Walk for Hunger. But if you feel you can spare that bit more – please give what you can to my Jabulani Challenge fundraiser here.


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