A friend from my running club mentioned the marathon to me during training back in March and on a whim I decided to go for it as I thought it would be a great opportunity to kill two birds with one stone; run in a foreign country and finally get to see the majestic Victoria Falls.
So on the 29th June after a little over 24 hours of much needed fun road-tripping, we arrived in the small town of Vic Falls in Zimbabwe’s southern Hwange district.
After locating our accomodation with the help of Google maps and settling in, we made our way down town to the kingdom hotel to collect our race packs and, much to my disappointment, the expo left much to be desired. Understandably so, I suppose, as the event is only in its 5th year, as opposed to the Two Oceans Marathon expo, which I unfairly compared it to.
My friends and I had dinner that evening at the Shearwater café where I had one of the best steaks ever. Unfortunately the establishment did not have any traditional/local cuisine on the menu, which I was looking forward to trying.
The following morning we made our way back to the Kindgom Hotel where we parked our cars and proceeded on foot – a decision we were to regret later – across the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia and into Livingstone where we had planned to go bungee jumping. Unfortunately, the bridge was under inspection at the time, and as we were not willing to wait for about the hour it would take for the inspection to be completed, we decided to leave. We walked back to Zimbabwe and after about half an hour in the queue, we finally entered Victoria Falls park.
Fascinating and absolutely breathtaking are how best I can describe the falls.
A green, lush and humid paradise. Seemingly never-ending.
After walking and admiring the scenery for what felt like forever, our friend who was from the area and familiar with the park told us we were not even halfway through the park. We decided to cut our sightseeing short despite this as we had to rest our legs in preparation for the marathon the following day.
Luckily, this same friend had parked his car much closer to the park and gave us a ride to our cars back in the city centre after which we proceeded to our lodge, prepared and had supper and settled in for the evening.
Victoria Falls Half Marathon
The combination of running only my second half marathon and in a foreign country at that made for shot nerves. The beauty of running, however, is that those nerves vanish from one’s body the instant the gun goes of at the starting line.
The race started at the Kingdom Hotel where we ran briefly into Zambia ( No, we weren’t required to go through immigration☺) across the bridge connecting the two countries, enjoying a light spray from the falls, albeit slightly slippery to run on. We then ran back into Zimbabwe where most of the race was through the Zambezi National Park where one could easily see the wild animals. This made for a truly incredible experience. There were sufficient park rangers along the route but unfortunately one unruly elephant had to be put down as it posed a direct threat to the marathoners.
The scenery also meant my focus was not so much on the long gradual hills that were sneaking up on us runners.
The last few km were somewhat challenging for me, as on top of being spent, the race organizers did not make provision for road closures on the town’s main road, which meant we ran through busy traffic to the finish line at the Victoria Falls Primary School.
After the typical post-marathon banter and beer or two, we proceeded back to our lodge where we showered, changed and made our way back to Namibia via Bostwana.