By Kim van Kets
Really, the beginning of a new year should be marked by the start of KAEM rather than something a random and pointless as new year’s eve. A whole year has passed since the full moon when it all happened and EVERYONE should be encouraged to celebrate the significance of that fact with the same enthusiasm as we do. As usual there was pandemonium and mayhem all over the Augrabies Lodge and the Augrabies Falls car park as runners and crew began to arrive and both emotional reunions and hilarious introductions played out all over the place. “Noooo ways Phil! I haven’t seen you for a DECADE and you look YOUNGER than last time! Guys, this is Julian, he’s been entering KAEM every year since 2012 but he keeps falling off stuff and breaking his neck and whatever. Jeepers keep him away from the falls then!”
Socialising and catching up are tempered by the endless packing and unpacking and repacking of kit. It seems completely impossible that one can spend so much time organizing 8kg of stuff. An outside observer would be forgiven for thinking we were absolutely bonkers or supremely inefficient. This is all in preparation for the official kit check that takes place after the race briefing. Estienne put’s the fear of God into the foreign and new runners by cautioning them not to sleep too far from the camp because of leopards, not to play with the black/cape cobras and or puffadders (like David Ball) which we may come across, to remain calm and stationary and blow our whistles in the event of a snake bite (as one is inclined to do), not to emit stress hormones around the swarms of bees, not to try to out run a veldt fire but to charge through it with our extremeties covered in wet clothing, to be vigilant about the colour and quantity of our urine…..
Its always interesting and panic inducing to see how much everyone else’s pack weighs (somewhere between 6 (how? HOW?) and 10 kg), to compare food and to see what are the non-negotiables for some:
Este has freeze dried apple crumble for the dark moments (with a sparkler), Julie has an inflatable pillow, Karlien has whiskey, I have olive caviar, herrings, a spice rack, Harry has a slice of his wife, Margaret’s fruit cake wrapped in foil for every day. John brings a giant steak with masses of fat on it for the first 2 nights, Gary has parmesan cheese, whiskey and bright funky clothing, Estelle has mascara, lip gloss and an ipod…
It seems that the racing snakes derive their happiness from winning rather than from material things because they have shakes and protein bars made from crickets..…really. This would make me unbearably sad. I would be in a deep depression by day 3, weeping weakly into my shake while everyone else sat around braaing steaks or guzzling whiskey.
I am delighted with my pack (thank you Philip Boardman, its like loaning someone your wife. Next level stuff! I worry she won’t be the same when I return her.) Thanks to Philip I don’t have to carry my steak in my hand like a baton for the first day, she has expanded to contain everything I need. I look pregnant, just not really and the wrong way round (thank God).
So I am planning for a slightly different slant on things this year – sort of Nigella of the desert, (just with neither the cleavage nor the glamour….in fact without much access to sexy ingredients either.) Oh dear.
30 min to the start. Whew! All the final prep has been done, bags are straining at the seams with all the last minute additions, all the final rituals have taken place (mine involves the arrangement of my pigtails to ensure they look erect and jaunty. Not flaccid. It is impossible to feel powerful if one’s pigtails are not at quite the correct angle.
Good luck everyone and watch this space for updates.
Some hilarious comments and things to note so far:
Jeepers, I can’t believe Harry is 70! I saw him in his underwear (by mistake). There is no WAY he is 70!
Padraig: Well you should she him OUT of his underwear then! THAT would further convince you!
Ian has thrown down the gauntlet and is challenging Bennie. Bennie is very afraid. And rightly so.
Pavel has arrived with most of his hand and forearm in plaster thumb in plaster but is planning to run anyway.