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Comrades 2014

Shazad Ali Khan

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Shazad Ali Khan, 46987

Our accommodation in Zimbali was fabulous. We were joined by Comrades Ronel Wienand, Ruwaida Sirkhot , Jolene Sunjich and the Profie Pauline Du Plessis. Decision was made to rather travel with the bus to the start instead of driving down. We were supposed to collect Jolene's bib number as she was arriving late on Friday. After arriving at the expo, finding the parking with great difficulty (As you would imagine), just to find out we left Jolene's paper work at home. Okay let's go back to Zimbali. When we returned, there was a 3 hour long wait in the queue for registration. Unfortunately, the expo was not very exciting. I normally like to buy comrades shirts for my nephew Salman. We got up at 1:30 Am to get ready. Ronel, Jolene and I were dropped at the expo to take the bus to Pietermaritzburg. We started the race after the whole ritual of National anthem, Shosholoza and the rest of it. For me it was a Deja Vu.

Up to the top of Polly's short I had lost complete sensation in S1 distribution on the right. As usual, as I started running down the Polly's Short, everything came to normal and I took a sigh of relief. For the first 20 km I was pacing comfortably for a Sub 11 finish. Then few things started making their presence felt. I realized I have identical spots under the ball of my both big toes which were not very happy. At that time, some very uncomfortable spots appeared on my arms and legs. Possibly cheving spots. But I soldiered on. At Drummonds, I realized I wouldn't make the Sub 11 finish. Botha's Hill as usual made me very humble. I found my friend Lucky drifting to the side and I had this horrible feeling he may not make it. Soon after I saw Poopedi also drifting back and it struck me that he may not make it the second time. I knew how desperately he wanted to finish the Comrades. The last 30 kms were downhill but painful. I was running ahead of the Sub 12 hour bus lead by Shakir from Rochies. Soon Vlam Pieterse and Derrick Sub 12 hour buses joined us. I switched off my mind and decided to just run with Vlam. He drove that bus very professionally till the 45th Cutting. I was left with 70 minutes and 7 km to go.I said to myself even if I walk from here I'll still make it easily. There were still runners falling around like flies on the downhill after 45th Cutting and I wanted to make sure i don't get cramps at this stage. My feet were killing me, my legs felt like jelly and I walked with a broad based gait as my thighs were cheving badly by then.

The last km into the stadium was lined by people with a deafening noise. As I was about to enter the stadium, Ian from Morningside club tapped on my back and said we have to run into the stadium. He said come run with me. That was my one minute of fame as there were few runners in the arena. Sonnie, Jolene, Ronel and Kimon shouted my name and that was the best sight to see them. I was sure I'll be in safe hands at the finish line. I had forgotten everything I went through in that moment. I sprinted, jumped, and the TV compere commentator ran to give me a high 5. We both jumped almost a meter in the air. As I crossed the finish line there was few meters of grass area. I just needed a moment to myself. So I lied down on the ground. One lady ran and asked me in panic if she should call the Ambulance. I told her I just need a moment to myself. I have never been through so much pain. She was just like my mother sitting on her knees, with her right hand on my chest. She said I can cry, men do cry. Nobody would know what you went through but the good thing is you made it. She helped me get up, hugged me and kissed me on my shoulder and took me to the queue to collect my medal. I went to thank Vlam Pieterse for carrying us through when the chips were down.

I would like to thank you thousands of people who braved the heat of the day to stand outside their houses, along the road to cheer the runners. People who stood with ice cubes. Those who had pulled the hose pipes and showered the runners were truly God sent. Without them many of us wouldn't have made it to the stadium.Thank you to all those who brought out bananas, oranges, potatoes. Most of all thanks to my wonderful team who met me at all the cut offs to offer me energy drinks. Just the sight to see them meant so much and was the main source of inspiration to carry on regardless of the pain.
Human brain is amazing. I ran into the stadium with a lot of pain but as I crossed the finish line, all the power to fight vanished and Comrade Ronel Wienand and the most beautiful woman Sonnie had to carry me to the car.

I am certain I am not the only one who in the last few kilometers promised themselves that, let me reach the Stadium this time I will never return to run the Comrades! But then when you reach the comfort of your house you wonder ag, it was not that bad and you already start imagining yourself at the start line. Two days later most of the pain has gone but the pleasure of finishing the Comrades is still there. The two big blisters under my big toes are painless, cheving is much better, I am certain to lose two toenails Bye Bye Comrade 2014. Bring on the Comrade 2015. Siya ya Comrades Marathon 2015.
Shazad Ali Khan

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External links: Official Comrades Marathon website

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