The Cape Town Retro Run 5K Race Report (with a double-stroller)

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Oh yes, you’re getting a race report.

Mostly because I slacked off on doing race reports last year on my races and y’all called me on it. So now you’re getting a race report for anything I’ll have a bib and/or timing chip for. And in this case, that’s both of those.

Of course, if you’ve been around my race reports long enough (you can get lost in the archives here from way back), you’ll know that you’re gonna get all sorts of details. Just like my in-depth reviews.

This time though, it’s different. Because I wasn’t just running for me, I was running for the three of us. Me, Peanut #1, and Peanut #2. All together on this journey. Well, and the 5,000 or so other people on the course that we’d have to contend with.

The Pre-Race Scene:

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I started off my day with the absolute best in class pre-race plan:

– 5:45AM: Begin the day early, when the 2-year-old screams like a Corn Flake’s rooster that the sunshine is out…before the sunshine actually comes out
– All Morning: Decide against any form of morning hydration as the temperatures slowly rises
– 11:00AM: Go out for a 2-hour long walk in the sun along the waterfront, pushing the stroller of course
– 1:00PM: Upon sun walk completion, commence eating of 2 hot dogs…and Fanta.
– 1:30PM After completion of hot dogs, lounge around in the sun some more, just to really set the dehydration in
– 3:15PM: Walk 2KM to the race area (pushing stroller, also in the sun)
– 3:30PM: Realize we got there 2 hours prior to start, stand around in the sun chasing around toddlers for another 90 minutes
– 4:45PM: Contemplate drinking some water, but decide against it.
– 4:46PM: Instead, dance around with children on shoulders doing a ‘warm-up’ danceathon in the sweltering sun
– 5:15PM: Find starting line along with thousands of others

Of course, that stellar pre-race plan doesn’t really account for the awesomeness that was the pre-race area. We picked up our packets from the Saturday registration hall:

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The Retro Run folks had reached out late last week asking if I wanted to do the race instead, after they heard through the grapevine that I screwed up and missed the waitlist for the triathlon the next day.  So they got us all settled up – including the kiddos.

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Though seriously – it’s amazing how inexpensive races are here. The race fee was a mere $10USD (converted).  Oh, and that included not just a medal, but also a t-shirt too! I challenge you to find any race in North America or Europe that includes either or both items for $10 in 2019.

After that, we headed over to the race village. This was definitely the most unique pre-race village I’ve seen.  For example, they had this hammer-bell game out front like you’d see at a fair:

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And then inside that tent they had old school arcade games:

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While some might snicker at this, in reality it was awesome. As will become evident, this event isn’t targeted towards the elite athlete, or even that many athletic people. Instead, it’s sponsored by an insurance company where people get point awards for doing healthy things. It’s also targeted at families – and if you can associate having a good time with getting fit – then go forth all day long.

They had a dance stage set up, and about 45 minutes before both of the races they did two workouts full of dancing and hilarity. This isn’t too different from what I’ve seen at even some mainstream running events as a warm-up. Albeit, we were standing in the middle of a gigantic field as the sun fried us like eggs on a sidewalk.

But The Peanuts had a good time:

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And frankly, so did everyone else.

There were also some food trucks set up (more on that later), and a crapton of port-a-potties. Seriously, so many port-a-potties compared to most North American and European races. It’s like someone got a deal on them or something. Goodness.

Oh, and finally – let’s talk about the beast I’d be pushing. Here it is:

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I just looked up the name of this thing, it’s the BabyJogger City Select (some older version we got second hand from expats leaving). Honestly, I don’t know all the details. I’m in charge of the bikes, not the fleet of strollers we somehow have.  Either way, this is without question the least capable stroller we have for running. Let alone running with two children.

It’s like walking to the rental car facility and saying: “I’ve got a crapton of baggage, can you give me the car with the worst handling, least amount of baggage space, and worst gas mileage?”

That’s what happened here.

In an empty dual configuration it’s 39.2lbs (17.7KG). But then the kids together add another 50 pounds, and then the bottom got filled with all sorts of crap adding another few pounds.  Not to mention the aerodynamic properties of this tank ensured proper catchment of all wind into the sunshades. Parachutes on drag racing cars have less catchment capabilities than this stroller does. Nonetheless…it’s the horse I got.

The Race:

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We headed over to the race starting line. The 8K folks (including The Girl) had already lined up and were just getting ready to head out. Meanwhile, a gazillion and one people had decided to line up for the 5K anyway. This made my goal of being closer to the front a bit tricky.

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Fear not, a bit of nicely asking folks and slight off-roading later and I was much closer to the beginning.

It was here that I locked the front wheels. Many strollers have some sort of front wheel lock option, which keeps the front wheels centered. This makes it near impossible to do any short radius turns, as you end up more like a larger tanker ship. But it’s a requirement for any sort of running:

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Oh, and then I got a selfie with the peanuts:

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And for complete technical accuracy, here’s the race route:

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After that, the starting gun went off and we started…walking.

We were perhaps 30-40 meters back from the starting line, and we continued walking through the starting banner. I started my watch once we went under the banner though.  But it didn’t appear as though the starting mats were till a touch bit after the banner. Due to the crowds, I continued my walk over the mats.

However, there was an opening to the side and I took it. I was able to join a few hundred others on the sidewalk and get some speed up. Though, this did require jumping the sidewalk with a stroller at speed. I’m not sure Peanut 2 (P2, the youngest) was expecting that maneuver. She squawked like a duck as we went airborne.

From here for the first maybe 1-2KM it was mostly a game of hurry up and wait. There were a few younger kids that sprinted out at the start, but I’d long since left them behind. Still, we’d find a gap and race to fill it, and then be stuck for 10-20 seconds until I could make my next pass.  Rinse…repeat.

It probably looks like there’s plenty of room, but that’s mostly the GoPro lens. Not to mention that my overtake speed means that in the photo below I would have approximately 1.4 seconds until I reached the people in front of me.

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Eventually we got out to the seawall though and things started to improve for a bit. At this point I had passed what I believe were basically all 5K runners (minus apparently 9 others).  Except now I was drifting into the back of the 8K race walker pack. And with another 3,000 participants in that category registered, it was quite the pack.

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Still, there were some nice wide sections of the promenade that gave me some great room to get up to speed for bursts.

As we neared the end of the promenade I saw trouble brewing ahead. No, not a cluster of people crowded like queuing up for a rugby game, but a sand trap and not one, but two sidewalk curbs. Oh lordy.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in pushing any of our fleet of strollers over the last 2.5 years is that strollers and sand don’t mix. It’s no different than trying to feed pureed broccoli to a tiny human. It won’t end well.  And in fact, the only way to make a loaded stroller sand dune adventure go well is run your balls off and go as far and fast as you can until you inevitably sink in it.  Which is exactly what I did.

Oh, turns out there were some tree roots mixed in there too.

P2 squawked again. Though, I can’t remember if it was the first curb, the second curb, or the tree roots she was most upset about. Either way, she was displeased.

The satellite scene of the crime:

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Now my unusual track here actually added a pile of distance, as it wasn’t the most efficient route from a pure racing standpoint. But the most efficient race-proper route was clogged like a sand trap. So in the end, I actually gained time over getting permanently stuck.

Then it was back onto the roadway for a bit more dodge and weave.

But my greatest challenge still lay ahead: The Park.

On a normal day this is a beautiful and often fairly quiet park.

On this day it was the great retro migration.

The road had narrowed from a double-lane + sidewalks to a single lane with a few half-lane bridges tossed in for good measure. I was back to speed-walking pace. And even more than speed walking pace, I was back to ever-so-carefully ensuring that I didn’t run over anybody’s feet/ankles. The entire length of my vessel clocks at nearly 2 meters long once you account for me and my stride. I can’t even see the front wheels either. This was my race track for the next 800 meters or so:

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Towards the end of that track things got better, but soon the road to victory narrowed yet again. It was speed-walking with occasional jogging, but at some point people started self-sorting the faster people to one side and walkers to another.  Still, it’s a really pretty park.

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And then finally, the moment I’d been waiting kilometers for had arrived: Open and clear roadway!

It was at this point that I hit the brakes and attached the side GoPro. I had left it off earlier because it increased the width of my already wide load. But now…now I had all the room in the world!  Why, you ask? The 8K folks just split off to go run an extra 3KM. Leaving me with nothing but an empty course ahead of me since almost none of the 8K runners had managed to rejoin the course at this point. And there didn’t seem to be any 5K runners anywhere near me. It was glorious! As the speed indicated, I got a bit excited at this part:

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12MPH is a 5:00/mile (3:06/KM).

From there I backtracked down the 5K/8KM course with thousands of people streaming in the opposite direction. I was like the person going the wrong way in those natural disaster movies.  You can barely see the crowds in the photo below to the right.

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And I was hauling ass. Actually, three asses to be precise. Here’s my heart rate chart from the race:

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That Table Mountain shelf the last 5 minutes or so? That’s this freedom moment. I was cruising at about 6:20-6:40/mile, or about 4:00/km. Secretly, this was the speed I hoped I’d be able to run the entire race. Until I realized the race would logically have 5,000 other people.

In unrelated news, Peanut #2 took this opportunity to sleep.

Apparently after the whole double-curb extravaganza she checked out. Can’t blame the kid.

Meanwhile, Peanut #1 was actually waving at people. For realz:

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Soon we neared the stadium, which meant an end to this madness. Anyone I could find to pick off, I was passing. But honestly, it was usually a hundred meters or more between us and the next person.  And frankly, I just wanted to get to the finishing banner:

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And boom, we crossed it! I was told I was the first stroller finisher (from either race). And in fact, looking at results later on, I’d initially show as 10th place overall (though somehow that slipped to 11th two days later).

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The timing is a bit weird. On my watch (which I started at the start banner and ended 3-5 seconds after the finishing banner), I clocked in a time of 25:34 (with 3.20 miles/5.15KM).  But the official time was listed as 26:13. I suspect the official times are currently accidentally showing gun times, which would be from the initial starting gun prior to my arrival at the start line, all the way until I crossed the finish line, which would make slightly more sense.

My guess is that if I were to break-down the entire run I probably lost 3-4 minutes in walk/trot time stuck in crowds.  As noted I had secretly hoped to throw down a sub-20 minute 5K with the stroller, but there just wasn’t the navigational space to pull that off.  However, my bet is that even if I had cleared everyone, I would have been between 19:45 and 20:30 – just a swag. Faster if the race had been morning over late afternoon on a hot day.

Running with whatever stroller this is from a race standpoint is incredibly tricky. If I were to go out and try and set a stroller PR, I’d normally take our BOB stroller, which has a stunningly beautiful rolling resistance. But that’s too massive for us to travel with, and it only fits one kiddo. But damn, it rolls so well – the force of my breathing would keep that thing rollin’ down the course.

As for running power data? I had the RunScribe pods on (and Stryd, but for whatever reason that didn’t record a file). On the RunScribe it recorded a mere 254w average power, but that was assuming a weight nearly 100lbs lighter (normal sans-gear/stroller weight). So…that number is meaningless without the correct weight. Oh, and here’s my Strava activity file.

The Afterparty:

After catching our breath…ok…my breath, it was off to collect some orange slices:

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As usual, The Peanut was highly suspicious of all humans, but did indeed accept the free fruit…after she had me collect it first.  We then doubled back to watch The Girl finish as well:

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From there it was over to collect some Coke and water:

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And then most importantly – the free medals. All of us got one:

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Even P2 in the backseat enjoying her rejuvenation nap.

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After which it was time to get ice cream. I had promised P1 some ice cream prior to the race if she ‘did well’. We generally don’t promise ice cream (or any desserts), but frankly, this was more an excuse for me to get ice cream than her.  Though, she was pretty excited about it.

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And after that, it was time to walk ‘home’, about 2KM or so I think. Not too far…though, I do wish at this point the stroller had e-assist on it.

Wrap-Up:

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I’m impressed with the event, it was super well run and definitely fun for all of us – so thanks to the organizers for letting us crash their party at the last minute. The route was definitely scenic for sure.

Plus – I checked off the box for my first stroller race with kiddos in tow. I’m not sure I’ll do too many of them to be honest, merely because in most cases strollers are stuck in the back (for largely good reason). As much fun as it may be to run with the kids, I think in general both myself and The Girl would probably rather trade off on races and let each other run the event without strings (and let the kiddos cheer from the sidelines).

Still, the kiddos seemed to have a good time during the race (so much of a good time it put one to sleep) – and we want to encourage them wanting to not just watch from the sidelines, but also participate in various things to keep them healthy. And at the moment, that means being in the sleigh.

With that – thanks for reading!