Running in Pretoria

My first visit to South-Africa will not be my last one: what an amazing, beautiful country. My plane landed close to midnight, so it was dark and warm as we drove out of the airport to Pretoria, where I was staying.

I had a full program which did not allow a lot of time for running. When I did have a free night, the hotel staff told me it was not a good idea to run outside on the road and recommended the gym. I got on the treadmill but felt out of of breath after a few minutes. And even though I started over a couple of times, I simply could not get it together and the longest I could run was 15 minutes, which was infuriating.

At first, I thought it was because the gym was too hot, so I went outside. The hotel has a service road all the way to the back, which I ran about 10 times back and forth until I felt I had done enough. Beautiful South-African sculptures line the road, which made for an interesting run.

Of course, I had totally forgotten that Johannesburg and Pretoria are located 1753m/5751ft above sea level and the higher altitude makes it more difficult for a low lander like myself to run her normal pace. Instead of programming the treadmill with my usual settings, I should have set it for a lower pace. Once I was done running, I remembered that I had read about that, but by then it was too late. Oh well, I’ll be back!

On the weekend I visited Johannesburg and discovered that the area near the Zoo, and especially the Zoo Lake Park, is a place much frequented by runners. Small groups were exercising, others were running loops and in the morning the temperature was agreeable enough. So if you’re ever here, that is definitely the place to finish your morning run while enjoying the beauty of nature.

Finally, a word of thanks to the staff of Menlyn Boutique Hotel who made me feel welcome and were so caring. Special thanks to Jeftha who gave me a tour and explained all the amazing art work decorating the gardens. And I would be remiss in not mentioning the beautifully presented, delicious food. Highly recommended and I will certainly be back!

Happy running!

PS: No, I did not run into zebras in Pretoria. This picture was taken in the nearby Pilanesberg Park, a wonderful place to see the Big 5!

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