After a leisurely sleep in and lazing in bed we decided to head out for an easy 8km run. We picked one of our regular 8km runs, affectionately called the School Route because it passes no less than 8 schools. The run starts with a big HELLO as the first 1.5km is up hill. We started our slow trudge up the hill, repeating our now common mantra – “Comrades pace” – but knowing that the interminable hill nonetheless stretched out a long way before us.
And then all of a sudden we realized we were being followed. It’s an inner sense, a sense that something is not right, a sense of being stalked. Furtively I glanced around and my suspicions were confirmed. He was right behind us, and closing fast. At first we tried to increase our pace but he was a natural, there was no way we could outpace him. Then we thought maybe we would just ignore him and try and behave like we didn’t know he was there. However that did not work as he continued to follow just behind us. Eventually exasperated I turned around to confront him. “Stop following us,” I said, but he continued seemingly ignoring me. I changed language trying to be firmer, “Voetsak!”
The road alongside which we were running was busy with Saturday morning traffic as parents ferried kids to and fro from sports events at schools and Saturday shoppers headed resolutely to their weekly places of homage. There were cars everywhere and all my efforts to dissuade him from following were futile. He simply wagged his tail and continued on resolutely.
If we didn’t stop him, he would certainly be run over by a car. I could see his was afraid, lost, alone and looking for someone to take care of him. But we were on a jog, we had a plan, a training run to do…there was not time for a lost dog.
On closer inspection we noticed there was a phone number and a name on his collar. “Hello Bruno,” I said, reading his name. “Where do you live?” He answered with a nervous wag of his tail and a look of hope in his eyes. The number would not help as we did not have a cell phone on us. There was only one solution.
Picking up Bruno, a stocky little Jack Russell, we resumed our journey up the hill with a plan to drop him off at the vet that we knew we would pass. However, were on a run, so tucking Bruno under one arm, we set off once more on our jog up the hill.
I’m not sure what they have been feeding Bruno, but after about 200 meters or so I was considering taking the dog to the police station, convinced the owners were smuggling gold bullion in the dog. The jog stopped in a panting wheeze, I think much to Bruno’s delight, as I’m not sure being jiggled under a sweaty armpit will go down as a high point in his life. Switching arms every few steps to ensure both my arms were stretched equally, we walked the remainder of the hill.
A relieved Bruno was shortly thereafter handed over to the loving care of the vet and we headed on with our jog. While we’d got off to a rather slow and somewhat unexpected start, the remainder of the run was at a significantly faster pace, as I tried to stay upwind of my personal dog smell.
So, the run wasn’t as planned, but hey, we got to help out poor old Bruno. That’s what I love about running. You are out there experiencing life with all it’s rich adventures, opportunities and experiences. It’s never the same, but it’s always fulfilling. “Thanks Bruno, I’ll remember our jog together, short as it was. After all, I still have hundreds of your dog hairs clinging tenaciously to my shirt!”
It’s only days now before the Big C arrives. Daily I scan the weather forecast as it fluctuates from 40C to 4C…thankfully now seems closer to a beautiful 22C. So between Bruno’s, Beaches, Bruce’s and now Butterflies (and plenty of them now) …the time has come. Enjoy the big day. Surrounded by thousands of cheering supporters, together with 20,000 comrades on the same journey, and a vision of ultimate achievement, it’s the ultimate human race. Enjoy it. May God bless us all as we run in his strength.
Also published on Runners World - http://comrades.runnersworld.co.za/dont-look-were-being-followed/