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Comrades 2012

Shalati Maponopono

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Shalati Maponopono, 51599
Carrying more than she bargained for!

I also started running back in 2009. That was after the birth of my 2nd boy/baby and the motive was to help me lose weight – as advised by some friends and colleagues. I must mention that even though I was always obsessed about keeping fit and in shape, I was never athletic and I never took up any sporting activity especially the one as hectic (used to think...) as road running let alone marathons and ultras.

My first race was a spar’s ladies race, a 10 KM. I remember how proud and excited about having completed it that from that  day onwards I made a commitment to make running part of my life. Soon after that I was already doing the half marathons and 32 k’s  that in 2010 I was then able to complete marathons I never thought i’d be able to e.g. Soweto, Deloitte to mention a few. Then in 2011, while running along with a very good friend I met on the road while preparing for a City to City, I took a decision to do my first Comrades marathon. Well, Makgabo my dear friend talked me to it and got me convinced immediately and then I decided to enter – targeting the early bird entries. From then onwards I ate, breathed and lived comrades. I read anything I could come across (about comrades) until I stumbled into alsoranrunners webside. This, was and still is a one stop shop for my comrades marathon preparation! I made sure every chance and opportunity I got; I used it to read up and understand and prepare myself for my comrades journey. I qualified for a G seeding and I was very excited about that. Well, I must mention that I entered my husband as well since I had motivated him and got him back into serious running.

After all the mental, and physical preparations I had been though; I was in despair to learn that something I least expected and desired for to happen was indeed lying ahead of me. In April 2012, almost 2 months prior to the comrades, I learned that I was pregnant, about 6 to 8 weeks! I was feeling great except for the usual nausea. . .the list goes on. I started doing a lot of research regarding extreme sporting and pregnancy and nothing seemed bad or suggested any risks. I was also pleased over my husband’s support over running comrades in my condition. Of cause we had it nicely and responsibly planned – take it easy, listen to your body and if anything goes wrong, jump into the bailer’s bus/EMS’s. One little concern was that all my two gynaes’ were completely against it – without any valid reason or any proven risk factors. . . I carried on well with my training. Ran Loskop very well soon after Slow Mag. The only concern was that my pace was starting to reduce with the constant need to empty my bladder. ..

So, came Friday the 31st of May. Started off at the gynae to make sure everything was 100% and off we went to the airport. We managed to book the flights/everything on time and unfortunately missed the plane and had to drive down to Durban. Well, I must say that I had nightmares about these sort of things happening and well, thank God this did not set us off. The Saturday before the race was very uncomfortable for us; my husband was exhausted from the driving (Ceturion to Durban) and I was just not feeling too well – maybe even the nerves contributed a bit to that. We went to the expo and collected everything we needed to and then headed off back to the hotel to get some well deserved rest before the  big day.
We made it on time to the start and waited for almost 2 hours before the start. I believe a lot of you will understand how emotional I was especially when I got to the realization that I was actually at the start and was about to finish the journey I had been looking forward to after everything I have been through. When I finally got to hear the Chariots of fire that i read about so many times and only played it at the comrades website, the crawling cock. . .

When we finally crossed the starting point after maybe about 14 minutes or so, nature called! I managed to sneak behind the bushes for a number 1 successfully and then caught up with my husband. Well, he was in a hurry and was worried that I was too slow and might delay us into making it through the cut offs on time – that was after seeing how much slower i had become and that we hadn’t even made it through the 10km mark and I had to “go” AGAIN. Well, he finally gave up on me when I was waiting at a cue for my 2nd loo visit. Sadly for me, I was too slow to catch up on him since I had to go way too often especially because of cold weather also being one of the contributors. . . I caught up with a gentleman ( - can’t remember the name) who ran with me at just maybe a few KM’s before the halfway mark. He shared with me his comrades success and lack of, stories and we ran very well together until we got a BIG wakeup call-we were only left with just under 9 minutes to make it through the half way before the cut off! My heart started pumping fast and I felt my feet turning rubbery and gellish at the same time. I realised that we were almost 1.5 kays away and we either ran faster or we got cut off. I remember running past a guy with a red golf shirt, facing forward (avoiding seeing the oncoming runners) with a gun in his hand and spectators doing the countdown and never looking back ever since. I couldn’t believe I had actually ran about 45 kays in about 6 hour!! I was horrified.

From then onwards, I started running like my life depended on it. I left my new partner some few k’s after the halfway mark and decided to do my own thing. The entire route I tried to catch up with my husband, whom I believe he’d given up on me long ago. I went through a series of mixed emotions, kept reminding myself of how far I have come to be there. I remember the runners’ I met along the way, some having fainted, some bleeding with fallen injuries- maybe from the start and others vomiting along the side of the road and while on the other hand, me; by the grace of God, still felt fine to complete. I caught up with my husband limping almost 3 KM to the finish. Excited to see each other, we both ran together to the finish line. We managed to finish at about 11h53  and i remember sobbing with tears of joy over our accomplishment. I am also happy to report that we were blessed with a baby boy on the 1st of November, now 5 going for 6 months. I have entered for this year’s up run with the hope for a back to back medal.

Shalati Maponopono

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

Copyright Nikki Campbell 2011