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Comrades 2014

Dorette Muller

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Dorette Muller: 2013 Novice

With the worst weather conditions in over 20 years (as the newspapers reported) I was doing my first ever Comrades, a Novice (Up Run 2013):   The Ultimate Human Challenge, 86km.  With the temperature a staggering 31 degrees and the wind blowing at 40km/h , I as a Novice suspected nothing out of the ordinary. Excited and nervous I’ve started my journey, my only aim the FINAL DESTINATION.  I felt incredible! The best ever since I’ve experienced a severe injury (a cracked sacrum) in January this year. With no cramps or heavy nausea, I ran walked Fields Hill (4km uphill) with such ease. Midway my legs were still going strong. The first half I’ve paced myself as instructed by my fellow expert Comrades friends. It felt good ….. Inchanga (a steep 4km hill) WHAT A BREEZE! But things started to change. … Runners became hikers and were left behind.  The atmosphere became daunting as people started to cry, curse and beg for water. Not me …… no suffering for me! I was on a mission to complete my task and things were looking good.  Perhaps a na´ve state of mind was to blame or perhaps my intuition decided to run faster than me. I DON’T KNOW.

“Arthur’s seat” was in sight and the famous legend honored by placing a pink rose on his seat with a respectful greet.  My race was now a done deal. By honoring this legend the remainder of my race was guaranteed to be effortless. 

But somewhere along my race bad luck was lurking, waiting to reveal its face …..and with 38km left to go I discovered that something terrible is wrong with my feet. O NO BLISTERS!! Even worse I hardly had any soles left on my feet. How on earth did that happen? Maybe this was the result of wet socks or the heat of the tar or maybe this was mere bad luck.

 Barely able to allow pressure on my feet I gratefully noticed a friend. He grabbed my hand and helped me all the way up to Camperdown to our Club Tent.  With only 30km left, very sore and exhausted I sank into a chair.  My trainers were taken off and what was supposed to be a relief became a horror. My feet were covered with loose skin, blood and wet socks.  A strange man asked the inevitable “What are you going to do?” My friend declared “It is over”.  I sat there for 5min in a daze….and I heard a voice echoed in my head….”COMRADES BEGINS AT 60KM”….that was exactly where I was…..I AM NOT A BAILER! I will complete the race regardless if I make it in time or not.  The man asked me again “What are you going to do” and without hesitation I asked him to help me with my trainers.

The race continued. I was not far behind the 12 hour bus. I’ve tried my best to catch up but struggled to succeed and in all the hurry to get going again I have left my bag open and lost all my supplements. I had no backup……28km to go…..25km to go….I needed energy and quickly….but nothing!  I asked my fellow runners for a “GU” (energy Gel) hence no luck. Eventually one lady came to my rescue and offered me her last one. With much appreciation I accepted. With 20km to go my club members started to pass me one by one. With excruciating pain I’ve silently started to pray that they will complete in time.  By the time I’ve reached the 10km mark the Polly Shorts hill I had to face felt like a gigantic mountain.  By then I KNEW!  My time was up…. But still, I was going run to the top of the hill no matter what.  Halfway up the hill I could not hide my despair anymore.  Tears start running down my face.   I gave it my all but still missed cut off with a few minutes. I know only had 7km to go! Please Mr Marshall…..can I just finish the last few km and go over the finish line…..So Sorry girl….The road is closed!!!

WOW!!! What an experience! Once again I’ve discovered a lot about myself. My Heavenly Father carried me when I could not run. We had a good conversation just the 2 of us, hand in hand….sometimes I was in His arms…..that is how I remembered my first Comrades…..happy that I knew I gave it my best and also disappointed that I did not finish or tasted victory.
If you ask me if I’ll do it again even though the outcome will be the same?  My answer:  “Absolutely YES”

Why? I have discovered so much about myself and humankind that day:
I did not know I had that much endurance…..Encouragement …. Making me believe that nothing is impossible. The crowd along the road….one guy shouted at me on the last few Kays “looking good…you are still going strong” and I giggled and thought he is such a good liar….because I even believe him! Companionship of fellow runners - sharing my personal turmoil with me.  Kindness and selfless acts of giving. That special friend that tells you, even though you did not made it, he is proud of you. Your mother that awaits you with open arms so that you can hide a little while in her arms.  Your brother that carries his “little sister” on his back for a kilometer because she can’t walk on her feet and he is so proud of her.  My Abba Father who was there when I have opened my eyes that morning and jogged the whole way along with me….carried me…and spoke to me….and He told me “My Child…there is already a medal around your neck….the one that I have hanged there this morning…..I know your destiny…...” And it was not at the Bottom of Polly Shorts …..but on top op Polly Shorts!!!
Until next year!
Dorette Muller

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External links: Official Comrades Marathon website

Copyright Nikki Campbell 2014