August 4, 2019.

A SMALL STORY ABOUT A BIG PLACE Sweeet…. Only 6km to go. Oh no, wait. That’s not the 15km marker, it’s elephant poo.  That pretty much sums up a running race in the Kruger National Park.

Skukuza Half Marathon. The start gun, (actually the roar of a lion) cannot sound until 8.30am, because the rangers have a big morning task of clearing the wild life from the tracks first. Even then, choppers hover close by, keeping a close eye on any nosey game standing close by and thinking ‘WT…..?!

The mercury is sitting around the mid thirties 21km later, but all good, a pleasure and a privilege to be running in such a place. It was technically a ‘road race’ but a good whack of it was trail too. And in true Annabelle Latz trail style, I found the one rogue rock, tripped hard, flew for a while, landed hard and cut my knee and elbows to shreds. Good job. Road runners aren’t like trail runners, they’re not very used to blood. The good-hearted first aid man tried to pour a litre of water down my leg to clean the blood off. ‘Noooooo thank you, I don’t want wet socks.’ One fellow runner asked what happened. ‘An elephant tackled me..’

The Kruger National Park. What a place. Hard to comprehend the size of it. Only saw one small corner this time, was awesome to spend three nights just in the bush, seeing game roam, play, entertain, look bored, look a bit pissed off, and even sometimes quizzical. Seeing the Big Five is magnificent, surreal. Actually very similar to seeing The Rolling Stones on stage in fact.

Elephants’ wrinkly bums, (I’m not metaphorically comparing the Rolling Stones’ bums to those of elephants, just by the way..) sleek leopard, happily grazing buffalo, very self assured lion, and the rhino who always lurked in the background. In addition, to sit and watch two cheetahs just five metres from your car, playing and rolling around in the grass, strolling around casually, can’t really be put into words. And just as equally fantastic, and at times hilarious, was parking up and watching a couple of warthogs tearing around, and on one occasion looking like they were trying to engage with an impala. ‘C’mon impala, come and play with us.. COME AND PLAY!!!’ Or the baboons having a scratch and a wash under a tree to escape the midday sun. A family of hyenas arguing with their mother, who looked like she just needed a break and a good stiff gin to get through the afternoon.

The bird world in the Kruger is another life in itself, and it was great to learn a bit about this, and appreciate who the sunrises and sunsets share their territory with.

Nice to put a face to the name of this place, I’m sure there’s many more of its personalities to learn about and explore. While playing Circle of Life from the Lion King album, which was appropriately played twice this weekend.