The sun’s reflection rises in the mirrors of Sandton’s glass buildings. A light breeze moves the Earth with anticipation. The athletes stretch in silence – comparing confidence, muscles and luck. They take their positions at the start line and the scene relaxes in slow motion. The breeze holds its breath to allow the African drums to start beating. The gun shot frightens the sky and athletes and birds leap into action.
The sun’s spotlight highlights running shoes on glass walls and amplifies gasps around corners. Quickly a small group of athletes break away from the 1.5 million who entered this ultimate human race. They see each others’ grimaces in their peripheral vision; they can hear the roars and hisses of violent breathing. The pace quickens. The hunt becomes desperate.
The athletes launch themselves from bridges – testing the strength of their arms, the endurance of their calf muscles. They hit the Johannesburg highways, dirty graffiti and abandoned mini bus taxis creating a runway. Train tracks disappear into deserted mine fields. Sweat is absorbed into the dust of the bush veld. Corners are tight around thorny kameeldoring trees and unexpected rocks demand quick reflexes. Dust orbits the orange Magalies mountains – fossils of the cradle of Humankind.
The sun brightens above a forgotten stone temple, like the ancient Jerusalem star. Adrenaline surges, joints are oiled with motivation and camp fires are fueled deep within. The athletes attack the moldy wooden doors, limbs and lungs – burning; nails and needs – scratching. Doors splinter open, windows explode inwards, hands grab brick walls, roof tiles are sliding open.
The sound of running foot steps echos in the barren chambers of the temple. Bushmen drawings on the walls tell stories of women who made offerings to fertility gods, men who battled the beasts of infertility. A dusty, glittering orb is pulsating in the middle of the temple floor. Creaks and groans become louder as the floor vibrates and dust dances in the space left by the orb, rising towards the stained glass windows. Records need to be broken, personal bests need to be improved.
The athletes use their last bit of energy to jump onto the orb. Fists are flying, feet are kicking. The athletes are pulling each other’s hair, biting salty skin. The orb is crashing through the roof, sun beams are streaking athletes’ faces as they loose their grip, their faith. A few athletes are holding on – victory is a membrane away.
We had our second IUI this morning. It’s all about perfect timing.