Running flattest Two Oceans qualifier on earth!

Laura en Johan Brand, twee Zuid-Afrikanen die in Engeland wonen, zochten de ‘vlakste Two Oceans qualifier op deze aarde’. En die vonden ze! Volgende maand komen ze naar Nederland om zich te kwalificeren voor de Two Oceans Marathon. In de hoop dat de Cut-off van 5 uur in Zaltbommel haalbaar is!

‘As a couple, we like to think we are still young and fit. The reality is that we are two 40-something-midlife-crisis-couch-potatoes with dreams bigger than our abilities. By no stretch of the imagination can we be considered runners and before 2016 the furthest we had run in recent years was 5km.

So there was no logical reason why we signed up for a 170km adventure race across Scotland in September 2016. Laura and a friend at work thought it was a “good idea”. It took a lot of running and cycling training to get fit and it was very tough – at times we felt as if we were going backwards due to the gale force winds in the Scottish Highlands, but it was a great experience. I think it would be safe to call us “participants” rather than “racers”, we decided the only way to survive it was to stop for lots of picnics and not worry too much about the time. But we caught the bug of seeing how far our bodies will take us.

Last year, we decided another big event was needed and we picked the Two Oceans ultra marathon. We moved from Cape Town to England 10 years ago and were planning to visit home in March, so the timing of the event was good and it’s a perfect trip down memory lane (although probably easier in a car). The route takes us through the beautiful Hout Bay where we used to live and so we know the horror that lies at the end in the form of Constantia Nek.

The small fact that we made this decision in September with only 6 months to prepare through the winter has caused most people to laugh at us and say we are ridiculous. From couch to ultra in 6 months, why not? For us this is about more than just race day. It’s about facing up to big challenges and dealing with them, whatever the outcome. We have not been able to have children and the infertility has been a huge emotional and physical challenge, so running together and doing crazy things to lift our spirits is very therapeutic. You can think of very little else when you are running, especially when you are overweight and unfit. Just breathing and putting one foot in front of the other is an achievement. It makes other issues pale into insignificance.

When we read the rules, we saw that we need to run a qualifying marathon. “Oh no! Where’s the flattest place on the planet?” The Netherlands, of course! And that’s how we came across the Two Rivers marathon which by some miracle was at the right time and a qualifier, so we excitedly signed up as soon as entries opened. And who can resist a friendly event where the prize for coming in last is a braai and a beer?

There is a chance that Johan might not be able to make the Two River run due to old rugby knee injuries, but Laura will be going for it and is hoping to complete before the 5 hour cut off. It will be a massive challenge for her to go it alone, as a marathon first timer, so if you see her falling behind please push/pull/shout at her to go faster, she responds well to food and verbal abuse (whichever you have the most of).

Can’t wait to see everyone!’