It’s Easter Saturday 2020, 9 am, 11th of April.

Usually I would be running right now. I might be at the 25 km mark, soaking up the atmosphere of tens of thousands of supporters and runners.

Axel setting the pace at the 2012 TwoOceans Ultra Marathon

Axel setting the pace at the 2012 TwoOceans Ultra Marathon

I would have had a couple of date balls and my signature micro-slices of pizza.

And I’d already have a good sense of how fast or slow I might be in the end.

In 2020, there would have been something new.

Completely new: The extension of the race from 56 km to 58 km. Nobody knew how this extension would have looked like. But who cares now…

It would have been my 12th consecutive Two Oceans Ultra, blue number 5528.

Axel receiving his blue number 5528 at the 2018 Two Oceans Ultra Marathon

Axel receiving his blue number 5528 at the 2018 Two Oceans Ultra Marathon

My training of 2020 until 14th of March

My training went quite well until the 14th of March 2020.

In January and February I had completed 5 runs of 30 km and more. My endurace was solid.

In addition to that, I ran one marathon as a qualifier. The marathon was my 6th Red Hill Marathon and my slowest one. But also my best one. I ran very controlled, ran up all the hills, and at the finish I could have continued for another 10 km or so. That was my goal.

I felt good.

Not fast, but good.

On 14th of March, a Saturday, I ran my usual 50 km training run 4 weeks ahead of the race.

Axels long run ahead of Two Oceans Ultra 2020

Axels long run ahead of Two Oceans Ultra 2020

Actually…. I was wondering until the night before, if I should do this training run or not.

Because the chances of a cancelation of Two Oceans due to COVID-19 and the Coronavirus were already quite high.

My inner voice told me, that the race will be cancelled.

Therefore, why do this training run?

You know why?

Because I am a runner. And running is what runners do.

That’s the reason I did this run. I did it not only as a training run for Two Oceans. I did it to add another Ultra Marathon to my log – because I enjoy running ultras 🙂

It went really well. Again, not fast, but I felt good, ran up and down multiple hills and enjoyed it.

15th of March: Two Oceans Ultra 2020 Cancelled

Two Oceans Ultra 2020 cancelled

It’s official: Two Oceans Ultra 2020 cancelled

The very next morning, Sunday 15th of March, I did an easy recovery run. When I got hold of my smartphone again, I saw the message: Two Oceans canceled.

Was I disappointed?

Yes. And No.

Because the night before my wife, who prepared for her 11th consecutive Two Oceans Half Marathon, and I debated if we would take place in the race, if it would happen. And we decided: We wouldn’t. The risk of getting infected would have been unacceptable. 

The 15th of March 2020 was also the night when President Ramaphosa announced the first serious measures in South Africas fight against COVID-19.

Like social distancing, closing borders, etc.

22nd of March 2020 – the end of running is looming

On 22nd of March 2020 I recorded the following video for my friends of, a group of ultra marathon lovers from the Netherlands and really good friends.

I could relate easily with them, because I still lived in Germany when I did my very first Two Oceans in 2009. I would have been devastated if it would have been cancelled.

But as I say, life is more important than running.

And there will be races in the future. But we need to get to that future.

I was happy of being able to go out and run.

Which was about to change.

26nd of March 2020 #lockdownsa

And then the lockdown started in South Africa. Serious lockdown. No running outside your premises. At all.

Well, what can I say. My motivation plummeted. I have some space around my house to do a short (very short) lap. So I do a 4-5 km run three times a week. 

Lockdown Trainingsession South Africa 2020

Lockdown Trainingsession South Africa 2020

And one strength session per week.

Now the question remains: What about Comrades 2020?

Well, it has not yet been announced, but I see the chances of Comrades 2020 at exactly 0.0%

There is no way the government will allow the gathering of 25,000 runners just 6 weeks after the (currently scheduled) end of lock down at the end of April.

I must say, my motivation to train is seriously flattened. Flatter than the curve the world is trying to flatten. 

But that flattened curve has it’s benefits…

It’s quite interesting.

My wife and I usually run every Saturday morning. Every single Saturday morning.

And now. 

We get up on a Saturday and experience, what might be the „normal“ Saturday for other people. Where you are a bit lazy, or do some work at your house, or read, …

New experience. Good experience. 

Easter without Two Oceans

Getting into the Easter weekend with a long weekend ahead and no Two Oceans is strange. No pizza on Friday evening, no 3:15 am alarm on Saturday.

But if that’s all I have to complain about, my life is full of luxury. 

And therefore I am very, very grateful for being alive, healthy, and happy being married to a woman I can go through a lockdown under one roof and still have fun. 

Running 5.8 km for the Cows instead

You might know me as a fund raiser for THE CHOC COWS, and the KZN herd came up with a 12 h THE COWS Lockdown Challenge for Easter Saturday.

What a great idea.

Axel and his Cowgirls

Axel and his Cowgirls

I donated some money and together with my two lovely cowgirls, Vizsla girls Amy and Lara, I managed to run a 5.8 km run = 1/10 of the Two Oceans distance, within a very confined space.

My motivation to do this particular run was quite high. Because it had a cause!

Dear running friends, we are blessed to be alive and I hope you learn and experience lots of new thinks (in a positive way) during these unprecedented times.

Don’t forget: As runners, and ultra marathon runners in particular, we are MADE TO KEEP GOING.

We truely know what perseverence and resilience means.

Let’s be the guiding light for people struggling more than we do right now.

Let’s flatten this curve, so we can climb lots of hills afterwards.