To conquer Comrades simply was the toughest and
best thing I have ever done, its lasting impressions left me with '' testimony
of greatness of our human spirit and all that is good in our world '' God, I
Love this life.
Every goal that has ever been reached, began with just one step – and the belief
that it could be attained.
Dreams really can come true, but they are most often the result of hard work,
determination, and persistence.
When the end of the journey seems impossible to reach, remember that all you
need to do is take one more step.
Stay focused on your goal and remember…each small step will bring you a little
When the road becomes hard to travel and it feels as if you’ll never reach the
Look deep inside your hear and you will find strength you never knew you had.
Believe in yourself – and remember that I believe in you, too.
- Jason Blume
The Comrades Marathon is known as greatest ultra-marathon in the world where
athletes come from all over the world to combine muscle and sinew and mental
strength to conquer the approximately 90km (56miles) between the cities of
Pietermaritzburg and Durban? The event owes its beginnings to the vision of one
man, World War 1 veteran Vic Clapham, maintaining that if a sedentary living
person could be taken off the street given a rifle and 60lb pack and marched all
over Africa then surely a fit and able athlete could complete the distance.
With the outbreak of the Great War 1914-1918, the 8th South African Infantry,
fought and marched 1700 miles of the eastern savannahs of Africa in pursuit of
Glen Paul Von Lettow-Vorbeck’s askari battalions. The pain, agonies, death and
hardships of comrades he witnessed during those awful days left a lasting
impression on the battle hardened soldier, especially the camaraderie engendered
among the men in overcoming these privations. Thus honoured in a unique way,
where an individual’s physical frailties could be put to the test, Comrades
became and remains a “living memorial to the spirit of the soldiers of the Great
Comrades Marathon is a ‘up run’ starting at the City Hall in Durban at 05h30 and
finishing at the Pietermaritzburg Cricket Oval in Pietermaritzburg at 17h30.
The route for this year’s race is
as indicated on the Bonitas Route Map/elevation and follows a similar route to
the 2008 up run. PLEASE CLICK AND ENLARGE MAP
How do you condense 12hrs into a short read, well here goes : Athens marathon
2010 was part of the training plan, the ascents in particular however it was
only when we drove the route on the Saturday, the reality of my task hit home
and helped me prepare mentally. 4.30am Motorbike ride started the day, then
amongst the singing and jubilations whilst in the holding pens, wishing good
fortune to my peers, my prayers were said, my legs never felt weak with the
enormity of expectation. As I walked along with the mass of humanity to the
start line, I was not scared of the race nor daunted by it’s hills and distance
with over 19,670 runners, seeded according to their ability, it was simply
atmospheric and I was excited. The famous ‘big 5’ hills of Cowies, Fields,
Bothas, Inchanga and Polly Shorts awaited us.. (to give you an idea, almost
42kms are ascent (a marathon in itself) My run/walk strategy was in place.
The gun went off, setting off in the dark night running crowd lined streets into
a new day dawning and sunrise, following the mass of energy and coloured shirts,
I knew I would not get lost !!. Up and down, up and down we ran into continuous
blue skies, vistas, panoramas and 27 deg C temps. Comrades is run on a well
paved road, a huge local spectacle in their social calendar, crowds line the
route, brai’s, fresh cooked food smells wafting, deck chairs, parasols, you keep
on following the mass, at their pace, and ‘Hey ho, another one bites the dust’
as another KM mileage marker passes. I was delighted that our back-up support
saw me every place they stopped along the route.
Major points of interest were 45th Cutting, Wall of Honour, Arthur’s
Seat, Valley of 1000 hills, Cato Ridge, Camperdown
Whilst focusing on the present like never before, engaged in a personal mental
battle, no Comrades runner will forget the experience of running past Ethembeni
handicapped school about mile 34, singing & cheering uniformed schoolchildren in
wheelchairs and stretchers, my gift of 15 union jack flags was received
joyfully, lifted my heart to see the courage of these children, how I felt
physically was temporary high 5’ing them on my way through made me count my
blessings. Onward we ran, one foot in front of the other. Along the route I
walked with some who were really struggling, encouraging them, some sought their
green numbers, their only goal was to complete, I felt an honour to support them
in my small way simply chatting, truth be known it probably helped my own energy
conservation efforts to.
I lost focus about mile 47, the spell broke, I was detached, there was no pain,
no longer running, I had to walk, take in fluids, solids, and legs ached, I had
hit a huge dip, and needed a spike badly. This came in the form of young
Physiotherapists at the next medical stop, massaging firmly both legs with
Arnica and the refueling tables gave me the much needed sustenance, plus
painkillers. On and on, up and down we ran. Finally after Polly Shorts, downhill
all the way and I resolved to strike for home, my body relaxed, I found peace
overtaking everyone in the last 5 miles. The wearing of Russ Abbott’s ‘hey
Jimmy’ hat into the final arena to the cheering crowds and crossing the
finishing line was pure pleasure and sheer exhuberance. It was great to cheer
the stragglers in the last 28 mins, with timekeeper’s back to the runners, the
12 hr gun went off, security blocked the finish line, race over. Much emotion
and sadness of those who failed to complete within time.
Into the international runners tent, legs seized completely whilst getting the
essential recovery foods, couldn’t sit down, couldn’t stand up, had to be helped
, Monty Pythons Flying Circus sketch ministry of funny walks came to mind, and
needed help with my clothes. Leg massage afterwards was a must. Got to keep
moving I told myself. Brian, Noel and Tanya my back-up support were crucial on
the day, and their contribution of photos I share..
‘’Madness’’ I hear you say, it certainly helped. Gun time : 11:32:06
thanks to Comrades team and all volunteers, so slickly organized, the day was
disciplined by the management. Health and Safety on route included 8
Physiotherapy Stations, 4 Diabetic stations (where blood sugar can be tested and
Insulin will be available) and 2 fully staffed medical facilities on the second
half of the route. Ambulances, and Helicopters standing by.
mention and thanks to our Exilda’s Angels team member Brian Merryweather, who
went out of his way to make it a most memorable stay for all guests,
entertainment, hospitality and distractions keeping my mind off the event (and
bringing a cup of tea every morning) logistics to and from the race, made my
time in SA even more enjoyable
last year came together with meeting again the lads from last year’s 7,000km
epic motorbike safari trip. Meeting up of Noel, Roger, Pat and Co, reminiscing
over a brai and even planning ahead for attending the school’s opening ceremony.
memorable moments :
-making new friends and meeting international ambassadors of the event
-meeting our Durban office team
-being overtaken by Keith a 75 yr old, (his 12th Comrades and
never saw him again !! )
with my own support for those less fortunate, The CMA has designated five
Official Charities to benefit from the 2011 Comrades Marathon, namely the
Community Chests of Durban & Pieter-maritzburg, The Sports Trust, the Starfish
Greathearts Foundation, The Pink Drive and Wildlands Conservation Trust.
Comrades’ fund-raising efforts are embraced in an initiative known as "AmaBeadiBeadi"
wherein runners, supporters, spectators, volunteers and members of the general
public are encouraged to support the charity initiative.
EXILDA’s ANGELS, my next fundraising goal : £10,000
important of all, the very reason my life’s journey takes me to South Africa to
run and fundraise, our new LR250 Primary School in Chita, nr Mpika, Zambia.
Angels has now gained charitable status, registered charity # 1141241 and we are
currently applying for a justgiving website.
pledges exceed 60%, and yes certainly am still begging hard towards this one-off
capital cost, so please do help us, you to are now part of the school by your
Do hope you
enjoy the photos below, ‘’ are inspired, to perspire, and aspire (not expire) ‘’
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