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Into the Wild

July 19th, 2009 by Thompson Lange

Another adventure come and gone.   And the best thing about this one was the fact that NOTHING but the marathon was planned in advance.  Joe and I played it all by ear (after the slog of a 27 hour trip from SFO to Cape Town.  And that’s the direct route).


We bummed around the Waterfront for a few days, eating TONs of animals we’d never even heard of before (try the Wildebeast…really, IT’S GREAT!) then got some little squashed kind of economy car and hit the road.  I had the first leg and Joe was the navigator.  He managed to navigate us around in circles a few times before we finally made it out of town.

First leg was a swing down to the Cape of Good Hope.  We paid homage to the Antarctica Marathon by stopping in Simon’s Town to see the African Penguins.  They look different than the ones in Antarctica…smell the same though.


Then onward East along the Garden Route towards Knysna.  The concierge at our hotel in Cape Town had gone the extra mile to try and find us a Game Reserve that would be on our way to the marathon…and she found us this GREAT place called Botlierskop.  Beautiful to look at, lots of wild animals and GREAT guides and staff  (when they found out that I was on my way to a marathon they specially prepared a big ‘ol bowl of pasta with cheese and another big ‘ol bowl of potatoes just for me…they wanted to make sure I was sufficiently carbo-loaded).

One look at my belly and they’da known I was already loaded up.  But it was VERY thoughtful of  them.

Botlierskop lodge

After a couple of days “roughing” it in a tent…



…we headed on over to Knysna for all their Oyster Fest festivities (and, yes, I ate oysters even though I HATE them ’cause, well, hell, I was at an Oyster Fest in South Africa and whatch’ya gonna do?)

The marathon (which, of course, was the whole point of my being here) was…fine.  It’s odd how I can make a whole multi-year, beyond my portly capabilities goal, and NOT research the actual marathon to see if it would be “enjoyable.”

(Not THEIR fault at all.  I mean, they billed it as the Knysna Forest Marathon and it didn’t occur to me that the daily drudge of my running IN forests at HOME might effect my sightseeing pleasure.)

AND (whine alert): I probably would have liked it better if I had actually trained for a mountainous trail run in the rain with a 5 hour cut-off.

Knysna Forest

BUT I made it across the finish, got the dang medal and can now scratch Continent #6 off the list of Around-the-World marathons. But BARELY. Talk about a close call. If I’d been 2 1/2 minutes slower (and I’m not kidding) I’d have been disqualified and had to come back to Africa to try again.

Nothing against Africa…but thank god I don’t have to attempt a do-over. Sheesh.

Knysna Marathon-2009

We cooled our heals around Knysna for a couple more days.  Went whale watching from a helicopter…which is something I’ve never done before.  Fun, and easier to spot whales and get it over with.  (Nothing against whales, but I live on the Pacific Ocean so whales I’ve seen…that experience was actually just about finally being in a helicopter).

We also did  the Tarzan bit and went out to Tsitsikamma to do the Canopy Tour.  Basically, you swing from tree-top to tree-top on a cable.  Who knew growing up watching George of the Jungle that I’d actually get to “watch out for that tree?”

On the way back to Cape Town we took a northern route and found caves, ostrich farms ’til you were sick of counting, baboons eating whatever it was that they were eating in the middle of the road and some great towns. In Franschhoek we lucked into the Rickety Bridge Winery that had rooms available  in an old manor house. We basically had the whole first floor to ourselves. When we were having breakfast in the dining room at a long table for eight that was set up just for us, it really felt like we’d stumbled into a Merchant Ivory film.


Great trip, great experience, GREAT to be done with that marathon.