On Sunday afternoon there was a post on Facebook about the dreaded “Two comma Four” that was used as the standard fitness test in the SADF waaaay back when I was a conscript in 1980/81. The cut off time was 12 minutes and the first 2,4 we ran in 3SAI was in pt shorts and takkies. I remember it well, we had a one pip loot that would mark the turning around point (theoretically 1200 metres away) and then we would be on the downhill stretch. On your marks, get set… fokof!
And so it started. A regular test of our fitness levels, and in 61 Mech it was compulsory for everybody to run it, whereas in basics only us roofies seemed to run it. We ran and ran and ran and ran and ran, further and faster than we had ever run before. Far from the perimeter fence of our high school and the 3 rugby fields that we sometimes ran during PT. Far from Phineas Mackintosh Park in Mayfair where we tried to fitten up for the army in those last days of our school careers. That road was endless, and there was no sign of that sodding lieutenant! At some point we realised he was not there and we started to turn around and run back to the start line. I seem to recall walking a bit, but coming in at under 13 minutes.
We ran that 2,4 twice in PT gear, after that we did it in “Staaldak, webbing en geweer” which weighed a gazillion kilos and which became second nature to us, almost like a pair of underpants but heavier and on the outside. I know my times improved dramatically, and by the time I moved to Kimberly and 11 Commando could easily run it in under 10 minutes. That course took us through the middle of the camp and around the one parade ground, still in staaldak, webbing en geweer.
When I ended up at Jan Kemp Dorp our fitness dropped, and our stamina was more in keeping with 4 hours of guard duty. Those were fun days, although in Winter we really suffered. Shortly before we left some of us started to run the 2,4 for fun, and even then could do it under 12 minutes.
The next major run we did was shortly before we went to the border when the whole company ran 3,6 kilometres in De Brug, and I believe we all made it under the allotted time, but we were buggered by the time we had done it.
When we hit the border we used to run the chalk road from our tents to the tar road and back first thing in the morning (about 3,8 kilos). It was hell, partly because of the blistering pace and the early morning heat, but also because we ran it as a squad and that was difficult. When we got back to our tents we would then have inspection and company parade and those meticulously shone boots were all white from the morning run in that chalk road.
It was hell.
Trust me on this.
Today? I would probably not even manage 1 kilometre, although I am very walking fit. I was never a runner, and I never will be.
ps. cpl Slegter, cpl Strydom, and cpl Akker: you three are a bunch of “obscenity delete-eds”
DRW © 2016 – 2021 The image of the platoon running comes from social media, I do not know who it belongs to, but wanted to use it as it is very representative of what we faced back them. If the photographer will come forward I will gladly acknowledge you.