On Sunday morning I took on the streets of Jozi in the Jump City Urban Challenge, a 10km obstacle course through the streets of Jozi. Jump City have been around for a couple of years and was the brain child of Gavin Kearns when seeing people traveling in various forms in London, thought that there must be other ways to travel around the city. With that in mind, the Jump City Challenge was born.
The Jump City Urban Challenge is a 10km route through the inner city of Johannesburg containing 22 obstacles, including a 2.2 metre high wall, a 100m boot camp and the blackout in the basement. The Challenge reminded me of what is so right about South Africa as people of various races, sexes and backgrounds, joined forces to take on the tough physical and mental battle.
I decided to take on the challenge with the help of my younger, and fitter, sister in a bid to become more in love with the town we call home and to bond a bit while doing it. What makes the Jump City so much different from the range of obstacle course races in South Africa, is that this does not take you away from the City, but right to the centre. You knew it was a challenge unlike any other as you literally start the race running through the new Newtown Junction, a fantastic little mall in the heart of Jozi.
What I loved about the Jump City challenge was that it was not just about man-made obstacles, but rather about using what the city has provided. You dont run around an entrance barrier, you jump over it. You dont climb the stairs, you jump the wall. You dont just run, you live. The other encouraging aspect was that many people, although chasing the clock, took time to give a hand, a lift, a push or just a word of encouragement at various obstacles. At the 2.2 metre wall I was given a hand by a stranger so that I could get over the other side to help my sister down. In this picture she looks terrified, its because she was (Im gonna get hit for this, but worth it).
Friendly metro cops, taxi drivers and inner city life were a welcome support along the route as your adventure took in the Turbine Halls, SAB World of Beer, the Chamber of Mines, Museum Africa and the brilliant Sci-Bono, which would be a painful, but rewarding end to the race. You had to jump over barriers, crawl under cages, lunge across a square and skip 100 times in amongst the journey and with about 4km to go you arrive at the outside of Sci-Bono Science Centre. You knew you would be running around the inside of Sci-Bono, you probably didnt know you were getting in via the roof. Yes, thats right, first we scaled the outside wall before climbing up four floors from the outside. Once inside it was a collection of twisting, turning, climbing and almost crawling around a pretty incredible venue.
The magic of Sci-Bono was truly saved for the end though as you descended another flight of stairs and after each step darkness started to grow around you. In what can only be described as an Eskom-sponsored obstacle, when getting to the basement you entered the “Blackout”. The Blackout was essentially as it says, an adventure through the basement of Sci-Bono in total darkness, with only a string to guide you. It was here that we developed an incredible team building gees with other Urban challengers that reminded me of the camaraderie that South Africans share. It may have been scary for some, but this was one of my favourite things ever.
The run back across Mary Fitzgerald square back towards the finish at Newtown Junction was another incredible reminder of how amazing Jozi is. It was also a chance to realise how awesome it is to be running in an area that you would not normally get the opportunity to do so.
As you round the final corner towards the finish you are faced with the final three obstacles as well as the emblazoned colours of BOS Sport, giving you a hint of your refreshment at the end. The monkey bars, the crawling tunnel and the half pipe pretty much tested every aspect of your strength as you moved to the finish. But if the bodies were tired, the spirits were lifted by a roaring crowd encouraging you home.
It was an outstanding start to the day and an incredible challenge. Gavin and the team were fantastic and hosted everyone with epic style. Durban they are coming for you next before heading back to Jozi for a Stadium Dash at the iconic Ellis Park in May. I know I will be there for sure!