Monday, 4 May 2015

9 Freedom Runs for Freedom Day

Freedom Day is a South African public holiday celebrated on 27 April. It celebrates freedom and commemorates the first post-apartheid elections held on that day in 1994.

If you run one of the parkrun courses at a different time to the normal parkrun, it is called a Freedom run.

When Francis Rogan combined the two, she came up with 9 Freedom Runs for Freedom Day 2015.

On our way back from Forest Run 2015, we drew up a rough timetable and by mid March it was finalised and published on the 9 Freedom Runs for Freedom Day Facebook Event Page.
The final timetable, the original timetable and Francis and I at the start of Forest Run 2015

At 5:30am on Monday 27 April a number of us met up in the dark, got a short race briefing from the Ebotse Event Director Gary, and ran off to finish the first of our 9 runs. By the time I had finished, the sun was up and I could recognise some of the people taking part. A quick chat about the best way to Freedom Run 2 and we were all on our way.
Ebotse and Rietvlei parkrun
Hard to take a picture in the dark at the start of Rietvlei, the first of our 9 Freedom Runs for Freedom Day 2015
The crowd is growing at Rietvlei, Francis and Kerry with the very official timing vehicle 

Rietvlei went big with the Freedom Day celebrations and decorations with a number of volunteers dressed up in patriotic clothing. The field grew substantially and we were thrilled.

Freedom 3 took place at Roodeport at the same time, but in the opposite direction of a fund-raising relay. 
third Freedom run
The crowd continues to grow as does the number of patriots

Off to Freedom Run 4 at Alberts Farm. By now we were confident with our calculated drive time and 10 minute pre-event gathering time - enough to have a pit stop and take a group photograph.

Alberts Farm and Woodlands parkrunners
It has warmed up substantially and there is a good turnout of Woodlands parkrunners

Polly Shorts at Delta parkrun marked the half way point of the day and still our numbers we way more than we had expected. 
New faces joining at Delta, the home of parkrun SA
Polly Shorts marks the halfway point of the challenge

Then off to Bryanston, by which time it was really hot! We were super impressed at the number of people who did their first run at Bryanston. I know that I would've struggled to go for a 5km run at 12:30 on a public holiday when the temperature was 28 degrees.
Temperatures of 28 degrees and still people joined for a run

By the time we got to Lonehill, we knew we were on the downhill to the finish. The two runs up to the Happy Rock were a real challenge this late in the day. Andrew, a Woodlands parkrunner who joined us at Lonehill came well prepared with ice cold beer for us at the finish.  Such a welcome treat - even to those that don't usually drink beer.
We were glad to see the see the Happy Rock on the second lap up the hill,
Ice cold beer, even for those that don't drink, it was so very welcome

Onto Woodlands parkrun and the one I was most not looking forward to. As it's my home run, I know how challenging it is and the thought of the two long, steep hills after already having run 35 km was frightening me. I needn't have worried as even those hills are easily accomplished when you are walking with good company.
A smallish group at Woodlands meant we got to see alot more wildlife,
Woodlands parkrunners at the Woodlands Freedom Run

The drive to Modderfontein was long - we wanted to get and be finished already.  We did make travel allowance for the long drive from the gate to the start of the run and yet we (and the other 4 cars in our convoy) were late. Fortunately the runners knew they couldn't start without the final group photo and they were all waiting patiently for us to arrive. There was a really big group gathering on the bridge at Modderfontein and we will thrilled at their support and that we didn't have to pay entry fee to the park. This was a walking parkrun with a short stint done barefoot as my sandal lace broke so I walked while I fixed it.
The final group of Freedom Runners on Freedom Day,
The Incredible Group that started and finished all 9 Gauteng parkruns

21 of us finished all 9 parkruns - we had great fun doing it, met loads of new people and will surely be back to do something similar next year. 

Thanks to everybody who supported us, joined us and enjoyed it. Big thanks to Francis Rogan for taking it from a seemingly random, crazy idea to a real event - with t-shirt and all.

parkrun  organise free, weekly, 5km timed runs around the world. They are open to everyone, free, and are safe and easy to take part in. Find an event near you and sign up here.

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