Monday, September 17, 2012

Tackeling the city on the Urban Run

Road running isn't for everybody. Pounding away at the road for kilometer after kilometer bores me a little bit, but I do like to participate in races with a difference. The Urban Run around Port Elizabeth's city centre area surely is one of those. Urban Run is a 10,5 kilometer urban obstacle coarse which 1. helps to get people back into the city centre, 2. get people to visit places that they may not have seen or visited in ages, 3. generate money for the chosen charities (R190 000 in fact) and 4. just to have a whole lot of fun. I stuck my mobile phone in a plastic bag (so that it doesn't get wet) and took it along to get a couple of pictures along the way.  This also meant that I was posting said pics onto Facebook at every opportunity I got.
I did the Urban Run with the Damselfly and her friend Belinda in tow (although they were probably towing me part the way as well) while trying to keep up with my ultra distance running colleague CW.  The race started on the Donkin Reserve and the first obstacle made its appearance just after the 1 kilometer mark where they had us slither on our tummies through cement pipes.  Hectically tight which meant that you couldn't just crawl through but rather had to claw your way forward while pushing with your toes.   After this everybody knew that this was going to be an unforgettable event and the best was yet to come.

Next up was a series of traffic barriers that had to be crossed over and under along Govan Mbeki Avenue (Main Street).
The first tough climb was rough. Very rough.  And steep. Very steep.  It wasn't just a climb but a series of steps that took us up Castle Hill for about 100 odd meters before heading down to Military road and up some more steps.
Next up was probably one of the most exciting obstacles along the route. Scaling the historic Fort Frederick by way of a cargo net.  That's me in the green shirt and blue pants reaching the top with the picture being taken by one of our friends who waited there with the Kidz so that they could see what we were doing.
One of the toughest challenges was climbing to the top of the Duckpond Pavilion at St Georges Park, running along the top tier and back down on the other side.  This was followed by a muddy leopard crawl under a cargo net on the sports field next to the stadium while somebody was spraying us with water.  Thank goodness for the plastic bag I had my phone in.

After a run slow jog brisk walk through St Georges Park we left the urban environment and headed down into Settlers Park where we had to cross the Baakens River twice on two different structures built by the Scouts.  It also gave the runners the opportunity to go off road for a little while before hitting the city centre again.  Some runner fell in and got soaked. Me? Luckily I landed on my feet. 

At the bottom end of Settlers Park was a twenty meter long slippery slide with quite a crowd watching at the bottom...

Yes, that's me entertaining the crowd.  I made a head over heals tumble after hitting the rubber mat at the bottom and coming to a sudden and very abrupt stop. There is quite the bruise on my thigh as proof of this.

A number of runners got to visit the Port Elizabeth station for the very first time where we had to enter the one side of a stationary train and run down the length of it, exiting again at the bottom.  This was followed by a very awkward climb over a raining to get back onto Strand Street.  Awkward for those of us with short legs that is.

By now the legs were starting to wobble a bit.  Not because of the distance covered but more because of what it was expected to do up to now.  So just to put some more strain on it they had us run up the 5 or so storeys of the Grace Street Parking Garage and back down again.  The end was in sight.  Well kinda in sight.  The last stretch of the coarse followed Route 67's winding path up the Donkin Reserve to the finishing point close to the lighthouse. 

Crossing the finish line in 2 hours and 15 minutes didn't break us any records, but it still was an absolutely amazing experience which can be highly recommended even if you aren't a regular runner.  Next year we'll be back and will aim to go under 2 hours. 


  1. Yay!!! I love this race.

    I learnt the hard way last year on the slip'n slide. This time I managed to turn around in time and even stand up as I hit the grass. Very graceful. Last year - not so much.

    Glad you enjoyed it - it is so much fun to run through parts of Central you don't always get to.

  2. The slippery slide looks like the most fun. Congrats for completing.

  3. Great summary of the Nelson Mandela Bay Urban Run - thanks for your support and posting of these awesome photographs... Zoet, Zports

  4. What a lot of fun, but I am pretty sure you have to be quite fit, it looked like a lot of hard work. Good cause though, and you did good timing - I wonder how long it would have taken me :) Those are lovely photographs - did I understand correctly, you used your phone? Jolly good!

    1. Took the pictures with my Blackberry. It was easier to carry it in a plastic packet than taking my camera along. Didn't want to get it wet or bang it along the way

  5. Ummm....that looks like a tough course! Good on you...and I was curious about he camera too....good job with the Blackberry.