A-a-a-tschoo!! A Fun Run/Walk along the Elsieskraal Canal in Pinelands during the Pollen Season

Poster on the lamp-posts

An all-day Family Fun and Sports Festival was held at the Pinelands High School (PHS) on Friday 12 and Saturday 13 October 2012, to launch their new Youth Possibility Centre (which you can read all about here).

A Fun Run/Walk had been organised for Saturday morning, with different starting times for the various distances: 8h00 = 10km, 8h15 = 5km and 8h30 = 2.5km. As we and our friends L and V, and Little Nina, had really enjoyed the 9km Sunflower Fund fun run/walk along the Sea Point promenade a month earlier, we immediately signed up for the 10km walk.

In the weeks leading up to the event, we decided to make special “Team Nina” T-shirts. It involved an afternoon of much jollity, with each of us us taking turns to paint little Nina’s feet in bright colours – red, yellow, green and blue – and getting her to make footprints on some white t-shirts.Unfortunately, Little N fell ill the night before the Big Debut of Team Nina. So you will have to wait until the next Team Event to see those t-shirts! 😉

The canal of the Elsieskraal river runs through Pinelands: This is the Howard Drive bridge, marking the one end-point of the route

As we’d committed ourselves to participating in the fun run/walk, Richard and I thus made our way down to the PHS on Saturday morning at 8h00. Although there was a bit of activity on the large field behind the school, it wasn’t exactly the crowds of hundreds that we’d anticipated… in fact, there were only about 10 people entering the 10km run.

And, as we took up positions at the starting line, it turned out that the two of us were the only two walkers rather than runners – and I don’t mean speedwalkers as in the Olympic discipline. So that was a tad embarrassing… Perhaps we too should’ve been wearing running shoes and lycra leggings, instead of hiking boots and long pants, if only to get the look right…

The course was made up of laps, each (supposedly) 2.5 km in length, with the route following the canal of the Elsieskraal River southwestwards from the PHS to the Clyde Pinelands football fields, then crossing the canal, and walking northeastwards along the opposite side of the canal to Howard Drive; here we crossed the canal once more, before returning to the checkpoint just outside the PHS field. At this point, we were given an elastic band as proof that we had completed a lap.

At the various canal bridges and road crossings, marshalls with red flags – and traffic cops – were on duty to make sure that we didn’t take any shortcuts, and to stop any cars if necessary.

Looking southwest along the footpath from the Third Scout Hall

There was also a table with sachets of water and paper cups of Coca Cola – oh, we were deeply grateful for the ice-cold refreshments offered by those friendly ladies! In fact, all the marshalls along the route were wonderful – they cheered us on with much good humour, and really contributed to the feeling of being part of a big community. For me, this feeling was the best part of participating in this event… even though there weren’t that many competitors, it was uplifting and such fun!

And, boy, did we need our spirits to be uplifted.

Springtime is traditionally pollen season and, all along the canal, the grasses and bushes and shrubs and trees appeared to be throwing their pollen and seeds and dust into the air with gay abandon…

The grass has recently been mown by the city council – A-a-a-tshooo!!!

As a result, within barely 15 minutes of starting the walk, we were both struggling with runny noses, watering eyes, itching throats, even itching ears for goodness’ sake… it was awful.

Let me tell you: Hayfever sucks!

In addition, I had twisted my ankle two days earlier, and the discomfort was definitely making itself felt, as my ankle began to swell up… I had strapped it firmly with a bandage for support, but it became increasingly uncomfortable and whingy, as we kept up a fast pace all the way, determined to complete the whole distance.

We were almost done with the first lap, when the first participants of the 5km run/walk appeared behind us and trotted past at a good lick. The younger school kids who were competing in the 2.5 km run/walk trotted past us, and made their way to the finish line; and the parents and older kids who had entered in the 5km run/walk turned off the canal path and back onto the field, as we completed our second lap.

An inviting bench near the Nightingale Way bridge

The 10km runners, of course, had long disappeared, no doubt completing their course in record time…

On the third lap, it seemed to be just the two of us, and two ladies who were still walking along the route. We really pushed ourselves to increase our pace to overtake them, running noses and swollen ankle be damned, and managed to reach the Clyde Pinelands Sports Club end before them.

A small victory, but a victory nonetheless!

The marshalls en route kept asking whether we were on our final lap, so we quickly realised that they were wanting to close off the route! Quite understandable! I’m sure they had better things to do on this beautiful warm Saturday morning than wait for two non-runners to complete a fourth circuit!

The footbridge across the canal at Bontheuvel Street, opposite the Clyde Pinelands Sports Centre, marks the other end-point of the route

Thankfully, the cheerful ladies at the Coca Cola table were still there, offering much-needed sustenance. We pushed onwards until the Howard Drive end, where we said goodbye to the friendly marshalls there, and then returned to the checkpoint outside the sports field to pick up our third elastic… and decided that three laps was enough.

Just as well: the organisers were about to dismantle the finish line, just as we entered the field!

“Hey, wait up! Wait for us!” we shouted, as we sprinted across the finish line as triumphantly and theatrically as we could, to much cheering and laughter of the people standing around!

Phew. We had made it.

Afterwards, we measured out the route on Google Earth: it seems that each lap had indeed been about 3km long. So, even though we had only done 3 laps, we’d covered a distance of almost 10km. Not too bad, considering a serious bout of hayfever and a twisted ankle!

Until next year – hopefully with the full Team Nina onboard! Oh, and next time, we’re taking anti-histamines before we start our walk.

P.S. I hadn’t taken any photographs during the event (yeah, I know, this must be a first for me… but I was a little preoccupied…). So, this afternoon, I grabbed my camera and a roadmap of Pinelands, and drove down to the various bridges across the Elsieskraal canal that we had crossed, so that you, my dear friends and loyal readers, can at least get a glimpse of what it looked like. You’ll need to use your imagination a little, though, to add in the runners and walkers who participated in the event. 🙂

10 thoughts on “A-a-a-tschoo!! A Fun Run/Walk along the Elsieskraal Canal in Pinelands during the Pollen Season

  1. My congratulations that you completed three laps despite Hayfever, a twisted ankle and being the only two walkers AND my thanks that you went back to take photos for us. My word Reggie, I don’t know anyone else who would go back for photographs (which I enjoyed seeing)

  2. Go back and just walk it with no comptition, it’s so relaxing, a lovley walk. We only discovered it today. Had a nice walk/jog and will be back sometime, keep writing – great blog

    • Thank you very much, Rob, I am pleased you enjoy my blog. We haven’t walked along the canal again since the fun-run, but agree that it’s a lovely walk. I wouldn’t walk there on my own, though, because it seems like there are often unsavoury characters hanging about, which is a great pity!

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