alsoran runners 2009 experiences:
Amit Sheth

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Comrade 21548
Amit Sheth
Novice from India


On Comrades day, at 51 k, for the first time in my life, I got cramps.  It hurt so suddenly and so much that I thought I would fall down.  I knew at that point that Comrades was gone.  I somehow distinctly remembered my son telling me two days ago in the hotel room "papa you must finish".  I exactly recalled his voice, his face, how he stood as he spoke those words.  I just started to cry at that point on the road.

At 11:20, I was at 82.5 and had missed the 83 k cut-off, the van came next to me and a kind lady asked me to get inside.  There was only one seat left inside as the bus was full of other runners, I sat there and then immediately we picked up another runner who just slept on the floor, the van had about 9 of us, it was hot inside and stinking of puke.  The smell was so overbearing that I thought I might faint or throw-up myself, so I asked her for a plastic bag to prepare myself, luckily I did not throw-up.  She then tore off the bottom half of my bib where my name was written and then put a cross with a large black marker, she then asked that I bend forward and she put another cross on the bib on my back.

The guy sitting next to me said that he had come all the way from Joburg and could not believe that this was happening to him.  I did not tell him that I came all the way from India.

The sweeper van dropped us off at the back entrance of the stadium.  When I entered from the back entrance, I was momentarily blinded by the light.  The first guy I saw as I entered the green was lying on the grass and was in pain and agony.  There were medics around him and I thought "he must have not finished" but then I saw the medal around his neck.  Then suddenly I realised that there were thousands of people all with medals around their neck.  I walked around trying to find the international tent where my family was waiting.  I looked across the barricades and could see the finishing straight where the finisher would have run over the timing carpets.  That hallowed ground.

As I entered the international tent, an older gentleman came up to me and asked where I got the alluminum blanket from, he was shivering, he had a medal around his neck.  Until that point I had just been thinking only of my run and that I had missed, I never somehow fathomed that everybody else had finished.  I regret that I did not have the presence of mind to give him my blanket.

Then Aryan, my son, came and hugged me, then Namrata, my daughter, and then Neepa my wife, they all had tears in their eyes.

The day after the Comrades, everybody in the hotel lobby was wearing Comrades t shirts and limping around.

My legs were hurting a bit but somehow I felt that I did not earn that right either to wear the t shirt or limp around.  I remember that book I read as a kid, " The red badge of courage", I think one has to earn that right to "limp" .

I want to tell you that although I did not make it that day, I would not have wanted to be anywhere other than on that road that particular day.  What a fantastic day!!  I think if we could live life as intensely each and every day as I did on that day, we would get so much more out of life.

Later on the way to St Lucia bay in the car, I wrote on the phones notes pad: "the challenge of the distance is like the challenge of life itself, the struggle to run longer and further and to perform beyond one's zone of comfort.  And there can be no challenge without the possibility of failure.  It is in that moment of time, when you are running on the road, tired and hurting, when the dice is not rigged in your favour, when the outcome is unknown and uncertain that you are really and truly alive".

I think that although I was tired and hurting, I was truly alive and I was never alone.  I have a great family and great running friends.  I will crack this next year.


External links: Official Comrades Marathon website



Copyright Nikki Campbell 2009
alsoran@webafrica.org.za