This morning we went for a fun walk with a couple of hundred extremely excited dogs and their owners.
It was the first ever Woefie Wandel to be held in the northern suburb of Parow, and as far as we could tell, it was a roaring success. The event was the Afrikaans-speaking, northern-suburbs equivalent of the Wiggle Waggle Walkathon, which is organised by the Cape of Good Hope branch of the SPCA in November every year and is held in the leafy suburb of Tokai.
This was our 3.5 km route through Parow, or more specifically, the neigbhourhood known as ‘De Tijger’ – or ‘The Tiger’ (I’m sorry to say that we didn’t find any, tigers that is).
We walked clockwise from the Hoërskool (High School) Tygerberg, uphill past a couple of green areas and along the N1 for a little bit, before heading back down the hill to the school field. I had told my mother (whom we had persuaded to join us) that “It’s Parow – it’s flat! I promise!” Hm… For future reference, please note that this particular neighbourhood is not all that flat. It’s very pretty, though, with beautiful houses and gardens, and friendly people who waved and greeted us as the army of dogs and people walked past.
We arrived in good time and went over to the registration tables to hand in our forms and proof of payment. In return, we received a little sticker identifying us as participants in the Woefie Wandel.
We found ourselves a spot in the shade – despite the cloud cover in the early morning, it was turning into a rather warm day – and listened to Charmaine Noy, presenter of the Kfm radio station, welcoming all the participants, both two-legged and four-legged.
More and more people and dogs arrived at the starting line. The sign in the photo below says ‘Begin – Einde’, which is Afrikaans for ‘Start – Finish’.
While we were waiting for the fun walk to start, I had plenty of time to photograph the dogs. The din was unbelievable! There was deep-belly barking, high-pitched yapping, cross snarling, defensive yipping, irritable growling, and the occasional high-pitched squeal when someone’s butt was sniffed too enthusiastically or when someone’s paw was trodden on – a veritable cacophony of doggy sounds.
The peculiar blue-and-green character in the picture below is Lollos, who is described as “South Africa’s answer to Barney” (good grief!). He arrived with his two pretty assistants, Alta and Minki, to entertain the little ones. In the background you might just be able to see someone in a tiger costume, who arrived at the same time. I’m not sure who he is supposed to be, but I suspect he may another character from the Lollos series! Or perhaps it was the elusive Tiger?
Our start was delayed by about 20 minutes, presumably to accommodate the usual late-comers operating on ‘Africa time’. Everyone was milling around, and the dogs were getting increasingly impatient and eager to get going.
At long last, the announcement came over the PA system that we would be off in 4, 3, 2, 1 – GO!
We began in a tight bunch, which soon spread out, as the faster walkers strode off into the distance, obviously regarding the event as a race rather than as a fun walk. As we ambled along, I noticed that there was no direct correlation between the size of the dog and the speed at which they were walking – or running. Everybody was in a very cheerful and excited mood.
Very soon, we came to the first watering station (there were several of these). Volunteers were busily filling up numerous containers of all sizes with hosepipes. Some of the dogs were already very thirsty.
And this woolly chap – who, according to his owner, had just been washed and groomed before the walk so that he would look his best – decided that he needed another bath to cool off.
Of course, it’s not just the dogs who needed some refreshments along the way. The humans, too, had worked up quite a sweat by the time we made it to the top of the hill near the N1 highway, which I think must have been the halfway mark. Dedicated volunteers were hurriedly emptying bottles of Coke into small paper cups and handing them out – it was deeeelicious.
Energised by this sugar boost, we marched along Jacqueline Road, which runs parallel to the N1 with its steady drone of traffic.
Somewhere along this stretch, I started a conversation with Klara, an Afrikaans lady, who was being pulled along by her dog, a mixture between a bull terrier and a Shar Pei. Her dog was really sweet-temperered, but also, as is characteristic of bull terriers, very determined to reach her destination as quickly as possible, so we strode along quite briskly.
As a result of our conversation, which lasted for almost the entire second half of the walk, I completely forgot to take photos (which my regular readers will know is highly uncharacteristic of me). I apologise profusely for this oversight. I’ll just have to do better at the next Woefie Wandel.
Eventually, we turned onto the school field, which marked both the start and end of our route. Looking back to find hubby and Mom, both of whom I had lost in the crowd, I suddenly noticed that, from the top of the field, I had a perfectly wonderful view of Lion’s Head, Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak in the far distance, beyond the cricket field.
And this is Mom (in yellow checked shirt) and me (in purple and black shirt and carrying the rucksack) marching towards the finish line.
What an exciting and entertaining Woefie Wandel 2010 it had been! I can’t wait for the next one!