alsoran runners 2010 experiences:
Cornelia Smuts

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Comrade 34238
Cornelia Smuts - Novice

I had decided that 2010 would be the year that I would run comrades.  Just thinking about running Comrades made my inner voice scream out loud that I was a stupid girl and definitely not a Comrades athlete.  But on the first of October I entered comrades with a running heart and a sense of disbelief.  Now I have only run one marathon so needless to say I thought I was so out of my league.  Not knowing what to do I started reading about Comrades and started the Runners World sub 11 program.  One day in January I stumbled upon Nikki Campbell's brilliant website and discovered Don Oliver’s training program.  This was definitely a defining moment in my journey to finish Comrades.

I started with Don’s training program and I mailed Nikki whenever I needed advice, or I asked Don some important questions.  I also had the priviledge to run two ultra distances with Fish Hoek Club and what a wonderfull experience it was.  During those runs you could just run as slow or as fast as you like with moral and nutritional support along the way.  I must confess that those training runs really motivated me to run long distances and enjoy it.

Having three daughters and training for Comrades was not always easy.  But with a patient husband and wonderfull girls who supported me during my training I managed to run 1300km from January to the start of Comrades.

Flying down from Cape Town to Durban leaving my kids alone proved to be very hard and I was in tears.  In Durban I registered with no problems and started the journey to Pietermaritzburg.  Driving in Durban was no picnic and it was rather stressfull.  Saturday I really started to wonder what the hell I was doing.  Suddenly I felt as if I can’t run and the thought of running 89km was overwhelming I had serious second thoughts.

Morning of Comrades arrived and with the Grace of God I felt totally relaxed and calm.  I ate breakfast, put my club kit on and applied sunscreen.  My husband took me to the starting point. I said my goodbyes and went to my starting pen.  I had a feeling of relief that this day had eventually came and I could not wait to start running.  I took in the vibe, sang Shoshalosha, the anthem, heard the cockerel and then I heard Chariots of Fire.  Then I stood still for a few minutes before we could move.  Then all of a sudden I started to jog/walk due to the large crowd.  I concentrated to take it very slowly and to definitely take the downhills slow and to walk when needed.  Running between all those athelete and seeing all the spectators along the road was amazing.  All of a sudden the kilometers went by without me really noticing it.  At 30km I started feeling stiff but I concentrated on my nutrition and walk when needed.  I even took some chocolates along the way and gave some to a small boy.  The people encouraging you and bringing some refreshments were amazing.  So far I did not shed any tears but all of a sudden when I saw those kids in wheelchairs well, it brought tears to my eyes and I felt humble.

At 50km I started to feel rather good after tiring after 45km.  Although my legs felt stiff my spirit was strong and I told myself my journey was nearly over.  I saw my husband once along the road and I was thinking the whole time about my kids and family and friends following me on this special day.

In the last 10km I could not believe that I was going to finish Comrades and that I was actually feeling fine.  The last 2 kilometers were magical.  I was excited and so thankful and absorbed the atmosphere.  In a time of 10h32 I finished my first Comrades and accepted my bronze medal with pride and disbelief.

I phoned my husband and met him at the finishing line.  Walking to the car I felt faint and had to sit on the road.  I could not believe my eyes when I saw Don Oliver walking past me and I felt that my journey to do Comrades was complete.

The journey to do Comrades starts when you decide yes I am going to do Comrades.  It takes a lot of commitment and a strong willpower to do.  But please remember that everyone can do it and yes it is a life changing experience.  You will realize that you are so much stronger than what you thought you are and the feeling of finishing is worth all the pain and effort. Keep your loved ones close to you because they will also be part of this journey.

Thank you Nikki thank you Don - you were instrumental in me finishing my first Comrades marathon.

External links: Official Comrades Marathon website

Copyright Nikki Campbell 2010