Kirsten, Smith to cool off with a marathon
On the free days during a tour, some players go go-karting, some go sailing, some go shopping; some run marathons. South Africa are playing the third ODI of their tour of New Zealand on March 3, in Auckland, but coach Gary Kirsten and Test captain Graeme Smith hope to make it to New Plymouth, more than 250km away, to run the Bayleys Mountain to Surf Marathon on the morning of March 4. The match on March 3 is a day-night game that could finish as late as 10pm, after which Kirsten, Smith, conditioning coach Rob Walter, physio Brandon Jackson and perhaps other members of the squad plan to leave for New Plymouth and get there at 4am, just three hours before the start of the marathon.
Kirsten has run just one marathon before and needs to run this race to qualify for the Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town, which he wants to participate in. He will run the full 42.5km race. To put that in perspective, he will be running the equivalent of 2113 lengths of a cricket pitch. This, in the middle of a tour. Smith, who will captain South Africa in the first Test, on March 7, plans to run half the marathon, with Walter completing the other leg.
The Mountain-Surf marathon is reputed for being one of the quickest in the world because it is largely downhill. That said, it is still a marathon in the middle of a tour.
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo