alsoran runners 2009 experiences:
Michelle Cowburn

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Comrade 47740
Michelle Cowburn

"As it goes with 2 novices training for their first Comrades this year, my fiance and I were in the final week of preparations - Tapering, eating right, drinking right, sleeping well. Pretty much everything that RW and everybody tells you to do. Having followed a training program from September 2008, we were not about to let anything get in our way of that 1st run.

Tragedy strikes - my father is stabbed and killed while out running the Tuesday before my 1st Comrades. Needless to say all preparations went out the window as the family rushed down to Cape Town on Wednesday morning.

We did not know what was going to happen, but I made my Fiance, Mark promise that he would get me to the start of the race. That is what my dad would want.

Having only really been part of the running community for a few months, the support and outpouring of emotion was amazing. The blog that followed on RW was incredible to see and follow as more and more people added their voices of condemnation for this senseless act and their support for "that" family. Our running club, Pirates, were great - already commenting on the blog before even knowing that it was linked to one of their runners.

So there we are, on the starting line, terrible preparation - lack of sleep, emotional, bad eating and drinking in days leading up to the race.  But we were there, Chariots of Fire rang out, the cock crowed and the gun blast went. Suddenly this 89km feat seemed manageable, easy actually - having wanted to try get through this race under the "radar" and not too many people knowing about it, suddenly it was a crusade, a mission, a vehicle to carry an entire family's emotions and hopes. So much for under the radar. It seemed like the entire world knew we were running...

We were never alone. My father looked over me while I ran and the other thousands of runners did as well. The camaraderie during the race, the support on the sides of the road, I did not realize this is what it would be like - it must have been sent by my father... Little did i know this was the Comrades experience year after year.

Before entering the stadium, I passed a fellow runner - Penny, she was hunched over in tears, saying she could not go on. A few words of encouragement and she was back on the road, only to come past and thank me and say how difficult this was because her father had passed away 3 days earlier. She was running for him. Wow.. I was blown away.. I was not alone in my crusade.

Thank you to each and everyone for their support and encouragement, not only for me and my family, but for Penny, and for the thousands of other runners. This is only my story, there are thousands others like this.
This truly is the Comrades and it did define me. Thank you Ian for running the ultimate human race for your family!! We love you"

External links: Official Comrades Marathon website

Copyright Nikki Campbell 2009