Beating a Not-So-Hasty Retreat

The Dundee (pronounced DinDear locally) athletic club and the Dundee Hysterical Society run a 21km foot race called the Isandlwana 21 or The Fugitives’ Trail half marathon every January on the closest Sunday to the 22nd which is when the homeland-defending Zooloos routed the wickedly-invading Poms in 1879 and gave them a well-deserved smack on the snoot. After this thrashing Mrs Queen Vic dished out her Crosses by the dozen like smarties to cover up their embarrassment. A fig leaf for the Empire’s nakedness, I say.

The race starts on a hill overlooking the Isandlwana mountain and ends at Rorke’s Drift.

I went to run it one year and it was very special: Half the club members manning the water tables dressed as Zulus in full regalia, and half dressed as pith-helmeted, redcoated Poms. Some of the former were pale and some of the latter dark, to add to the hilarity.

The oke who started the race looked like a drunken Pommy colonel. He had no gun, no whistle nor no trumpet. He rambled on about who had done what to whom in 1879 – a potted history – and then, when the ‘off’ time arrived he shouted:

“THE ZULUS ARE AFTER YOU!! RUN!

‘Course, in my specific case, all the Zooloos running that day were well ahead of me. Nevertheless, just like Mrs Queen Vic, the DinDear athletic club dished out Victoria Crosses liberally that day, even to slow coaches.

~~~oo0oo~~~

redcoats n zulus

The race result was something like this photo above.

We crossed the Buffalo river at Rorke’s Drift and finished at the famous mission of the same name:

The finishers medal is special – a cross between a Victoria Cross and a Zulu shield:

My VC from Isandlwana 21km

I later gave mine away to a great cause.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Published by bewilderbeast

It's about life, marriage, raising kids, paddling rivers, travel in Africa . . . re-posting thoughts written over decades - at random, I'm afraid.

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