HOW DID I EXPERIENCE MY FIRST COMRADES? BY A NOVICE
years ago I lived in the USA. I moved to Cape Town South Africa
and married my husband. The following is my story about the 2010
Comrades Marathon, this year the down run.
would like to thank everyone in the Strand Athletic Club who helped me
reach the starting line in Pietermaritzburg. Thanks to those who
trained with me, advised me, told me their stories of Comrades, and
encouraged me when I was sure I could not run this race, much less
finish it. Thanks also to the members of Strand Athletic Club who
were an example to me of excellence and determination.
first heard about Comrades from Sallie Whitmore in Carrboro, North
Carolina in 2000. We met running on the treadmill in the gym.
Sallie was training for Comrades. Having never heard of the race I was
amazed she was willing to fly to South Africa and run 89k
the SAC I learned more about Comrades. Last year after completing
my second Two Oceans Ultra I felt it was possible for me to run
years run was a special one to commemorate the 85th running. It
was also special because of the World Cup beginning in June. Entries
were open to 20,000 previous entrants. Only 5000 novices were
eligible. On November 1st 9 AM my fingers were poised on the
keyboard to register as a novice. Within 20 minutes, my money
spent, nervousness ensued. All eligible novice entrants were
scooped up in 4 hours.
husband and I flew to Durban on the 28th of May. Friday was spent
at the expo. Saturday we drove the route; I became seriously
nervous. How was I ever going to run this distance?
morning I got on the bus at 2:30. It would take us to
Pietermaritzburg for a 5:30 start. I piled on after three club
members. For my superstitious mind this was good luck, compounded
by the fact I had 3 Americans sitting behind me.
waited in Pietermaritzburg with more club members. As we walked
to the corral I met 2 other Americans. I found a place on the
middleman. Fifteen minutes later the cock crowed and my watch
said “battery flat.”
took 5 minutes to cross the starting line. This wasn’t bad as the
G corral took 15 minutes. This race is chip timed but also gun
timed. You have twelve hours, according to the official clock, to
cross the finish. We were off to the cheers of clapping and
yelling. These were the families of runners, the people of
Pietermaritzburg, and others whom had just come out to see the crazy
from the G and H group began to pass me, pulling me along. I
remembered the advice “if you think you are running slow, run even
slower”. An awe striking moment came at 5k as the runners
stretched as far as the eye could see.
the 10k mark the 11hour bus finally materialized. There was my
friend Candice Winterboer We had run the Peninsula Marathon in
February and 4 Hills for Lindsay 56k in early May together. Her
friend Craig joined us at the 20k mark in Comrades.. It was great
to have someone to talk to, to complain to, and just be silent beside.
a down run there sure seemed to be a lot of “opdraanders” (up
hills). Candice and Craig’s fathers met us with sweet potatoes
and hugs. Thanks to Robert and Phillip for all they did along the
route. I later saw two club members cheering us on the course,
Lester had on a lovely pink wig, and Margi was offering peanuts and
halfway, barring any unforeseen accidents, I knew I could finish
Comrades. Odd that your mind turns over from “can I?” to “I
can!” I ate oranges, bananas, Marie Biscuits (cookies), chocolate
biscuits and more potatoes than I can count. Coke, Powerade,
water and water, and then some more water washed everything
hill, what can I say about Field’s Hill? My question to Candice
and Craig “was that it?” I had barely noticed it. My mind
was mush by that point. Then we hit Cowie’s Hill and
walked. The entire race was a walk/run series.
Mayville I began to feel nauseous. It will be weeks before I eat
another potato. We walked some, which helped. I felt better
and off we went. Craig had been keeping track of our time and
pace. If we picked it up we could cross before 11 hours.
our strength off we went. The 2nd 11-hour bus loomed ahead of
us. I was thinking “Finally we can slow down.” But NO,
Craig picked it up and we ran around the outside and then in front of
them. Pulling away, rounding a corner, there was the 1st 11-hour
bus. Staying with them I hoped, but …… NO we passed them as well!
the 1km mark we RAN, not that piddly little run we had been doing, but
RUNNING. Entering the stadium was amazing. The crowds were
clapping and yelling, the vuvuzelas were blowing. There were so
many people there. Crossing under the finish line was one of the
best feelings I have experienced. I got my medal, my patch and
official finisher’s card and smiled!! I had now completed
Craig and I posed for photos. We headed to the soup line.
Vegetable soup was warm and soothing to the stomach. They went to
find Candice’s mom; she finished in 9:55. I stopped to talk to
Mars, Charl and Karin for a moment. Mike was in the bleachers
waiting for me.
was in the bed around 8. My alarm went off at 3:30.
Catching a 6:30 flight out I dropped the car off and went inside the
airport. I was pleased to see I was not the only one hobbling
around. Everyone smiled and/or grimaced at each other.
Tuesday, I am walking better, not great but better. I have a few
new black toes and blisters. Most importantly I can say to people
I ran the 2010 Comrades and finished.
External links: Official Comrades Marathon