My London Marathon Journey

Supporter sunglasses

My London Marathon journey began, of course, some time prior to 23 April 2017, the date of the event. Preparations included plotting the route, packing supplies, wearing the right gear, and liaising with supporters. My outfit was a bright orange T-shirt sporting the word Sense on it. Sense is a UK-based charity that cares for deafblind children. I was very happy to wear the colours of such an organisation. I also wore giant sunglasses to attract attention. These red plastic toys were nothing compared to what other runners wore: Darth Vader outfits, giant beer bottles and, yes, a 25kg tumble dryer. The kitchen appliance man (Ben Blowes) set a world record. Despite such competition I was very proud of my four-and-a-half-hour finish time.

It was a challenge to make my way through the thousands of people (there were 40 000 runners and I don’t know how many supporters). But the impressive work of road marshals and police men and women was a big help. They shepherded runners and supporters across roads, and channelled patient crowds into public transport stations. I maintained a good time, slowing towards the end, but was definitely hampered by a race-day toilet that held the promise of space-age efficiency but didn’t deliver. It gurgled through its automatic self-cleaning phase so slowly that I hopped about while waiting, anxious to return to the race.

The pace leading up to the 14-mile mark was the most stressful. I wasn’t sure I would be seen by those who knew me and I took so long to decide where the best vantage point would be that it took a hard sprint to get me there at the projected time. I must say that the timing chips given to runners and the mobile phone app they connected to were excellent when it came to tracking progress and therefore heightening excitement.

Spotting my loved ones through the crowds was hardest at the 19-mile mark and by then my calves were shaking with the effort of keeping me on my toes. But it was all worth it when we were reunited post-finish at our chosen meeting point.

Pre- and post-marathon

My London Marathon journey was a tiring (and expensive) one but lots of fun. I barely needed the energy bars we’d packed, so thrilling was the travel by train and by foot to the four spectator points our family had decided upon. I saw my dedicated, disciplined daughter at three of the four stops, and simply yelled her name as loudly as possible at the first as she ran past. She heard me, us, and saw us in our bright orange T-shirts, and said it really helped her to keep going for the 26 miles.

At last count Robyn had raised GBP1480.00 for her chosen charity Sense. I’m so proud of you Robyn Turton, thank you for letting me be your supporter (and for getting me a free supporter’s T-shirt)!

Robyn (front, centre) flanked by her supporters at the finish

Coffee time, with the professionals

Photo: Brenda Daniels

Photo: Brenda Daniels

Picture: Sha Coetzee (left) and Anthony Abiet at the official opening of vida e caffé, La Lucia Mall, Durban, on Thursday 22 May 2014.

Anthony, the exuberant General Manager at vida, educated customers on the opening day about some of the intricacies of how the café makes their coffees. This includes the correct coffee-making techniques, such as time taken to draw the water and temperature to which the milk is heated.

It also involves the customer service process; ordering at one end of the counter and delivering at the other. Another important aspect is the coffee “experience”; the store at La Lucia is a particularly nice-looking one, with cork finishes and oak surfaces, and staff are trained to make “customers friends”.

Sha Coetzee is a customer-come-friend. She has been patronising vida for many years, popping in to a store daily, sometimes twice a day. She started visiting vida in Cape Town first and is now a faithful customer in Durban.

Like Sha, I love going out for a good cappuccino and don’t feel I’ll ever dabble in the art of “proper coffee-making” at home. Many people do though and according to my son-in-law, Stuart Turton, “Durban is experiencing a kind of resurgence toward home-produced coffee.” You can go really big (for example a Bezera Italian machine which a friend reports now costs almost R20,000) or start small. The vida website, for instance, demonstrates a very natty little thing called a capsule machine. My son-in-law has started his coffee endeavours with a “moka pot” and a hand-held milk frother (see the picture below). The, er, jar in the background of the photo is the stage I’m at… Which is why I need to go out for coffee!

Photo: Robyn Turton

Photo: Robyn Turton