Tuesday, 01 July 2008
A mind blowing buzz, where am I, what’s going on, then realising the source, I stretched for the confounded device, my cellphone. I struggled to switch off the alarm, but soon realised it was a call. Half asleep I answered; it was Xander my son wishing me well for the start of the run. Thank goodness he phoned as I had overslept.
I awoke with this panic, the run day had dawned and I was late. A tap dance through the shower, stumbling about in the dark I finally found my running gear and dressed. I stuck my head outside and was greeted by a really icy dessert chill, as I looked out over the dunes; the morning sun was washing the dessert with a burnt orange light. The rugged vegetation was stark and black as the backdrop of sand around it seemed to dance in the ochre morning sun. One by one the rest of the crew appeared, as I greeted them a slow nervousness descended over me. The feeling of uncertainty of what lies ahead, what will each day bring, how will this journey unfold. We slowly headed off to the breakfast room. We sat eating in silence, each with our own thoughts, no one really knowing what to say, just the odd small talk going over the day’s plans.
The silence was suddenly broken by the guy at the table behind us as he started to choke on his food, with a bit of back slapping and ragging him he slowly began to regain colour and managed to start breathing again. This seemed to get the chatter going and the meal ended in quite a bit of laughter as we walked outside to our convoy awaiting us outside. It was a slow thought provoking drive to Oranjemund and the start, a green oasis on the outskirts of the Namibian dessert. A town that seemed to be caught in a time warp.
The start banners had been set the day before, the owners of the Spar Mike and Arthur had arranged a cherry picker to hoist Braam up the lamp post that he could attach our banner across the road. As we turned off the main road and arrived at the start we could see the group of kids from the local school and quite a crowd had already formed.
The formalities, quickly a thing of the past, we greeted all and started to focus on what lay ahead. As Braam and I shook hands I could feel a wave of emotion rising, the months of planning, training, all the mental pressure that I had endured in the preparation to this event seemed to come to a head.
For a split second I felt so alone, isolated and in a way scared of what lies ahead. Subconsciously I could hear the chorus of the count down of the crowd, 5-4-3-2-1 go! I felt myself float forward; my legs seemed to work automatically as I headed down the road. As the cold dessert air stung my face I could feel the tears of emotion tattoo a line of warmth down my cheeks. With this came a feeling of relief, in a way, as all that I have to do now is concentrate on getting though each day. The next 7km seemed to be a collage of reminders of what I went through in China, before I knew we were rounding the bend leading back to the border post and ahead lay the bridge between SA and Namibia.
Flags attached to our backs, we ran the 1km bridge between Namibia and South Africa over the Orange river, for me, this was the real beginning of my journey, running back into my country my journey of hope begins, a journey that I hope will bring a smile to my country and its children and ultimately a positive vision of hope for the future.