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Comrades 2013

Nombasa Tsengwa

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Nombasa Tsengwa, 32364
Head vs Heart

What a challenging 2013 running year it was! With all good intentions of covering 1000km between January and May to get a safe bronze I only managed 818km excluding the Comrades distance. Work commitments, flu, and fatigue prevented me from my objective. Seeing that 1000km was not going to realize I concentrated on running more hills. Thank God I live in a hilly area so avoiding hills is not possible.

I stood on the start line on the 02nd June with a fear of the unknown given all that could happen on the day. I wondered how could I possibly get the most desired bronze medal with such few kilometers covered? I felt defeated before I even started but I was not to give up. Here I was about to tackle my 8th Comrades Up Run Marathon. I always cry before this race and the Chariots of Fire and our National Anthem seem to release buckets of tears down my face and that of my family. My tears only dry after 2km into the race. I started the dreaded walk 3km into the race something I often force at about 8km with a lot of discomfort. I continued walking after every 3km until it became less than that as I tired. I felt good on the major hills but I walked most of them, and for some reason this year Fields Hill seemed flatter and more comfortable to run but I forced my walks and crested quite comfortably. As we neared the top without me even asking, a good fellow runner just offered me about 10 salt sachets from some fast food outlet. What a pleasure this was as I enjoy taking salt with all the sugary drinks and oranges on offer on the day. I am convinced that the mixture of sugar and salt work like a miracle for me. Despite salt tablets I often carry with me, normal table salt seems to works better for me. My next best saviour on the day is mageu. Wow do I get a kick from this mealie meal brew!!! I got two servings of mageu on the road at Drummond and Ashburton and I felt like a pro!! Thanks to my family with all the support and food they always give me and of course I cannot forget the potatoes that seem to also do the trick for my energy levels. Believe me it's not just a spud!!
I ignored the heat, the wind and dust. I refused to think about the weather conditions as I had no control over them. All I could control was my pace and nothing else but that!!!

Before I knew came the infamous Polly Shortts and proudly walked up to the top. Running this monster in my view for a plodder like me is suicidal, only to be run by the Bruce Fordyce's of this world! I checked my time, it was 09:51mins and my head said the bronze medal is possible but my heart doubted it. Having not achieved a bronze medal on the up run before, I couldn't believe that it was going to happen despite having 01hr08 mins to finish the last 8km to make the bronze. Only at that time my race started. I entertained a big conflict between the two most important organs, the heart, and the mind. The messages from my heart were unacceptable, I had to listen to my head. My head said push at 7.3 mins per km on average, I listened and it was comfortable, however the heart said it was not enough. I asked how come? According to mathematics my average pace could do it but my heart played games with me. I was anxious, I couldn't feel my body running anymore, and my waist felt nonexistent. Where is my torso to hold my lower extremities I wondered? Am I even moving forward? If I wasn't, there would be a lot of medical attendants around me, and there were none. I vaguely realised I was indeed still on the road on my feet towards Martizburg and I was not turning back.

The idea of achieving my first bronze medal on the up run after failing 3 times before seemed threatened, it was extremely hot, windy and dusty, my toes against my shoes were breaking blisters, it was sore, once again Mr Mind said focus on the bronze. I really wanted nothing else but the bronze. With 5 kilometers left it seemed too long to keep the pace but I knew that every step towards Maritzburg was golden, blisters or no blisters, I had to get there at this pace, and I couldn't imagine anything else but that. The cheering crowds on the side of those last kilometers don't know how important they were in carrying me through those golden steps. In no time I was in the last mile at 10:40 mins and at that time, my heart was filled with disbelief defeated by the head, but then I knew that my bronze medal was in the pocket. Instead of crying with disbelief as I thought I would my face lit up like a summers morning, my teeth tore through my tired lips, and my cheeks formed huge mountains around my face as I saw the red big finishing digital clock ahead reflecting ever so boldly 10:44mins:35secs. I couldn't mentally register that I was at the end of the Monster. I continued running, only to be blocked by a lady handing out my finishing time card and my beautiful bronze medal, dangling around my neck. I took my first step in pride into the runners receiving area still confused. In a minute I looked around and realized it was not a dream. I had just finished my 8th consecutive Comrades Marathon, with a dream bronze medal for the up run. When I met my family I just walked and walked and walked unconsciously. I must be back for my 9th run. I learn a great deal from this race about myself and the meaning of this race but this time I think I've learnt the most. No matter what your heart says, listen to your head and just do it. It still yet to sunk in that I actually finished this race one minute earlier than my target time. This is truly an ultimate human race there is in the World!!! It continues to change me!!!



Internal links: day before, driving the route, squeezies, wall of honour, Arthurs Seat, splits,
External links: Official Comrades Marathon website



Copyright Nikki Campbell 2011
alsoran@webafrica.org.za