The much anticipated Alpha Zero Tunnel Run took place on Saturday 7 November. For the uninformed, this 20 Km out and back race started in Wellington and entered the Huguenot Tunnel service tunnel after approximately 5.5 kilometers, to traverse right through the mountain for 4 kilometers. The turn-around point was just outside the opposite exit of the tunnel at which runners re-entered the tunnel to head back to the finish line. All in all about 8 Km were run inside the eerily lit, rather dark tunnel.
Truth be told, the wow factor of running through the tunnel definitely made the day. The compulsory head light inside the goodie bag was not only for novelty value. Negotiating the rugged running surface inside the dark tunnel, unquestionably required additional light. Unobserved potholes and ruts, as well as the corrugated surface would have led to many sprained ankles. The earthy smell, dripping water and the faint glow of dust made for a truly unique experience. Other than for a short stint at the turn-around point, the race is non-technical and quite fast. The total elevation of about 280 metres peaks at the turn around point, making it a flat out descent to the finish once the tunnel is exited. Much happiness.
Many participants made the most of the scenery and stopped at many points for photos to capture the memorable experience. Nevertheless, it was still a race and at the front end, the battle was fierce. The winner was Loyd Bosman in a time of 1:09:29. His pace of 3:21 p/km attests to the course being quite fast. Second and third place belonged to Givemore Mudzinganyama and Bernard Rukadza. The ladies winner was Bulelwa Simae in 1:23:52, followed by Ulrika Stander and Megan Mckenzie.
The Alpha Zero Tunnel Run was a unique experience. Running for 8 kilometers underneath a mountain in a crude tunnel does not happen every day. Seeing daylight come and go, and smelling earth and water deep inside a mountain, is a box you want to tick. Kudos to everyone involved. May we see this race happen again next year.