Tips For Your First Knysna Half Marathon
The Knysna Half Marathon is one of the most popular half marathons in South Africa, with entries being sold out within a matter of days. If this is your first Knysna Half, it’s worth taking into consideration some of the race’s quirks.
Get There Early
The only way into the heart of the forest is via the taxi service. Try and catch one of the earlier taxis so you aren’t flustered by the time you get to the actual start line.
Beware The Cold
Knysna is cold. And the forest is colder. You’ll be waiting at the start for a fair amount of time, so come prepared! A tradition at the Knysna Forest Marathon is to wear old clothes and discard them en route to the less fortunate (details below). You’ll be glad for the warmth!
There are a few food and coffee stalls at the start, so it’s worth bringing some cash along. And don’t forget to tuck in some of your own loo paper: the portaloos are well frequented.
… And The Clothes
Once the run starts, runners will start parting with their warm kit on the side of the road. Some runners wear black plastic bags and simply drop them where-ever they desire: please, don’t!. Watch out for these tripping hazards – as well as the clothing collectors. A roastie is a nasty way to start a half marathon.
This year race sponsor Momentum will also donate 2,000 extra blankets to keep runners cosy at the start, and to be donated to local communities after the race. The designated race charities for 2015 are: E PAP Youth feeding scheme; Knysna Youth for Christ; Sinethemba Youth Centre and Heroes Youth Trauma counselling.
Start Slow… No, Really
You’ve heard it before, we know. But Knysna Half Marathon starts with a gradual 2.5km climb and if you race out the gates, you’ll most definitely regret it later. You’ll also be pretty chilly when you start: use the hill to warm up properly and ease into the race.
Enjoy 2.5 – 14km
The undulating jeep track through the Knsyna Forest is enjoyable: find your rhythm, take in the glorious scenery and keep your eyes peeled for the elusive Knysna elephant (or at the very least, watch out for dung). Don’t give it gas… yet. You’ve got a mean descent to deal with shortly.
The descent from Simola into Knysna is a quad bashing bastard. The view is superb and gives you a tantalizing glimpse of the finish line – but don’t be fooled! There’s still a fair distance to cover. The 3km descent is akin to a mine shaft and your legs will be begging for remorse at the bottom. And the race still isn’t over.
The Final 3km
Thankfully, the new location of the festival grounds means that the long, flat slog to the finish isn’t as gruelling. Your legs will still be a tender after “The Hill” – and the final few kilometres are flat, flat, flat. If you went out too hard, too fast or flew down “The Hill’, your mind will start playing tricks on you. Every year, runners swear that distance markers have gone missing. They haven’t. Every kilometre will feel like 4 and you’ll swear that you’re running the wrong route. You’re not. Find a happy place in your mind and take in the glory of the lagoon.
You’ve arrived, soak up the glory! Grab a boerie roll, a beer and laze around the field watching the marathoners come in. Get in a good stretch, find an oyster (or 2) and get ready for the rest of the day: the party is a good ‘un.
Do you have any tips to add? Comment below!
Photo credit: Amy Ebedes
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