I did it! Despite a snivelly nose and a cough that keeps me up a good portion of the night, I completed the Cape Town Marathon in 6 hours and 17 minutes. A bit slower perhaps than I would have liked, but hey, I was there! And it was fabulous. The organisation, the route, the registration, the start and the finish – hell, even the weather – was perfect!
Mulling over how I could describe this marathon without over-using words like awesome and fabulous, I started thinking about how running is the one sport where there is absolutely no cultural or racial divide. We all line up together, white shoulder to black shoulder, we chat, we laugh together, commiserate over injuries, share our goals and no thought is given to social background, colour or where we come from. If only we could get this right in our everyday lives! Maybe us runners should run the country!
This, in turn, led me to mull over the state of affairs in our country in general and how different our new South Africa is – in a good way. I grew up in the old apartheid regime. Our National government then was horribly paternalistic and, even though my family were members of the old Progressive Party (the opposition if I remember correctly), we had no choice in how we lived our lives. Censorship made sure we did not read anything “unsuitable”. All “our” schools were Christian. We were not taught about other religions and were definitely not allowed to practice them. We were never allowed to discuss other cultures. We were not allowed to live with, let alone marry, anyone of a different race. And god forbid that we should even think about same-sex partnerships! Our lives were pre-mapped – be a Christian, go to a Christian school, find a “good job”, marry someone of the same race but of the opposite sex and have 2.5 children and then proceed to bring them up in the same way.
God how dull we were! Think how free we are in this “new” South Africa of ours. We are free to choose any path we like. We can live with whoever we want to, male or female – even if they are pink with green stripes and two heads. We can embrace any religion we please and read or watch anything we like. Running 42 km through the different parts of Cape Town only emphasized how vibrant this cultural diversity makes our country and how liberating it is to shed all those preconceived notions of our murky past.
Forget Third World service delivery and slow internet and get out there and embrace the awesome fabulousness of our country!