The Bruce Fordyce 52km Ultra Marathon

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Where: Suikerbos Rand Nature Reserve

When: 21 March 2012 (Human Rights Day)

Suikerbosrand Ultra Marathon route profile

When one door closes, you just have to look around for another. Being sufficiently pissed off with myself for not getting in on time for Om Die Dam, as my training schedule for my first Comrades Marathon had planned for me, I scoured the internet and discovered, just in time, mind you, that the Fordyce Race was on this year, and about to happen. I swear I experienced a mini adrenaline rush. That’s what you do when you’re a novice.

The Bruce Fordyce Ultra Marathon lived up to all my expectations.

They said it would be beautiful out there. I saw expanses of rolling hills and valleys, trees, a dam, a flock of circling eagles, and it was all very beautiful.

They said it would be free of traffic. It is the road runner’s ultimate dream. No public vehicles could enter between 5:50 – 6:20 in order for the ultra runners to have free reign of the road. No marshalls, no Metro policemen. Just you, your fellow runners, and the road.

They said it would be well organised. A special thanks to the water point helpers, all  of them so willing and helpful. The midpont table was positively brimming to the edge with a picnic of chocolate, biscuits, sandwiches, jelly babies, potatoes, apples… and not to mention the best race water I’ve ever tasted, not the plastic sachets that taste like… well, plastic.  And I am ever grateful for the ice, if not for this I would have had to be swept up. The only vehicles on that long road were the emergency and sweepers vehicles, and a mobile water table in the form of a bakkie. How wild is that?

They said it would be tough. Oh boy. You better believe it. A runner who emerged out of the bush in front of me was of the opinion that if you can do this race, you can do The Comrades. Well, at 50km, if someone had asked me to do another 39km I would’ve sat down and buried my head in my hands for a long time. But luckily, nobody did, luckily, I met up with a friendly long-haired ‘old customer’ who motivated me along the last 5 kms. Luckily, when in the last 2kms my central governor was telling my legs it’s time to stop, somehow I could still manage a painful walk. Luckily, I still have 10 weeks to go.

Comments taken from the race:

  1. At the first 10km – “Take it easy, go slow, it’s going to get tough.”
  2. At 15km: Asking an old hand how he would rate this race – “It’s DIFFICULT!”
  3. Chatting to a ‘race friend’ – “The best Comrades training run you’ll do.”
  4. “If you can do this race, you can do Comrades.”
  5. “The year Charl Mattheus came up to do this race, he won and went on to win Comrades.”
  6. At midway – “What are you all doing walking? This is a running race!”
  7. At the last 4kms – “Just run/walk pole to pole, before you know it, you’re at the end.”

Thank you, thank you, my running race friends, the ones I only know by appearance but not by name, for your encouragement, motivation, chirps, and support.


Val finished this race in 5:39:45,  5 minutes short of an ‘F’ Comrades seeding, and over a minute slower than Alan Robb’s Comrades winning time in 1980.
She has done one Two Oceans Ultra and completed it in 5:56 in 2011.


4 thoughts on “The Bruce Fordyce 52km Ultra Marathon

    Katherine said:
    April 2, 2012 at 4:51 am

    You ran for almost 6 hours!! How do your legs feel after that?

      Val Sing responded:
      April 2, 2012 at 7:54 am

      Stiff! But when you’re on the far side of a vet, what can you expect? 🙂

    Faye said:
    April 3, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    I went to the race with the aim of running just 32 km. At 32 km I decided to go for another 10 km, telling my self that I would have finished a marathon. At 42 k, after the gruelling hill and the sun, I set down waiting for a lift to take me to the finish. Ten minutes later there were still no cars, I decided to carry on and hitch hike. One car stopped at 43 km but it was full. That’s when I decided that maybe I could finish the race, and ran the fasted 9 km of the enitre race. I full agree with you it was tough, an mean. At 15 km I did not think I would survive it.
    I am thrilled that I decided to finish it, 2 milestones for me, 1st marathon and 1st ultra on the same day.
    I ran for 7hr and 19 minutes….

      Val Sing responded:
      April 3, 2012 at 3:21 pm

      I am so thrilled for you! Well done, not just for finishing, or for completing two milestones in a day, but for pushing on. I hope that this experience shows you how strong your will power is. Often that’s all we need to make it to the end. And I’m sure in future races as you’re about to give in, you’ll look upon this and remember how you kept going and made it.

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