I’d never really considered signing up for MTN Walk the Talk with 702.
Even though I knew this is one of the most iconic events in Johannesburg with 55,000 participants, and even though lots of people told me it’s great, and even though the walk starts and ends around the corner from where I live, and even though I’m awakened at 6:00 a.m. on a Sunday (every single year) by the noise from Walk the Talk anyway, it somehow never occurred to me to participate myself.
I didn’t get it, to be honest. I mean, Walk the Talk doesn’t involve running or cycling (not that I do much of those things either) or any real sport. It’s walking. Who wants to get out of bed at 6:00 a.m. in the middle of winter on a Sunday to just…walk around?
But this year Walk the Talk invited me to be part of a public awareness campaign (see my previous post on the topic) and to participate in the walk. It was a special year for Walk the Talk: Since South Africa is celebrating 25 years of democracy in 2019, there was a 25-kilometer route in addition to the usual 15-, 8-, and 5-kilometer routes.
I signed up for the 25 kilometers. Go Big or Go Home.
Yesterday I did it. And now I get it.
There’s a reason why I arrived in South Africa nine years ago and never left. It’s because the people in this country are fu*king awesome. And nowhere else is this awesomeness more apparent than at Walk the Talk. Despite all the crap they’ve been through over the past four centuries, South Africans know how to Go Big or Go Home.
South Africans know how to laugh and party and have a good time. South Africans know how to look past their differences and they know how to come together and love their country. South Africans know how to make a plan and they never back down from a challenge. When asked to walk 25 kilometers to celebrate their hard-fought democracy, South Africans will fu*king do it and enjoy every fu*king moment of that sh*t.
Look at the pictures and you’ll see what I mean.
Walk the Talk in 20 Pictures
The photo above was about three hours and 15 kilometers into the 25-kilometer walk. Everyone — and by everyone I mean me — was getting pretty freaking tired. I didn’t take many photos for the next five kilometers. Instead I put on my headphones and rocked out to Taylor Swift, trying to forget about the nagging pain in the back of my knees.
Did I mention walking 25 kilometers is very hard? Especially when you do virtually no training beforehand, because — you thought — walking is not a “real sport”?
During the final hour I literally struggled to continue putting one foot in front of the other. But somehow I did it. We all did. I didn’t see a single person give up.
Guys. I was so tired at the end and I still had to trudge 1.5 kilometers up the steepest uphill you can imagine to get home. I barely managed to drag myself into the Steers near my house, order a giant jalapeño-mayo cheeseburger with fries and a chocolate milkshake, limp across the road, wolf down my food, and collapse into the bathtub. I’ve been waddling around like an elderly penguin ever since.
I hope to be able to bend my legs again someday. But either way it was worth it. I feel more South African than I ever have before.
Next year I’m sticking with the 15k.
My admission fee to Walk the Talk was complimentary. Opinions expressed are mine.