Comrades 2010 was a highlight for many and a disappointment for others. Whether you won a silver medal or finished a second before the 12-hour cut off, one thing bound all of us on the 89.2km long road to Durban… and that was the incredible and unique experience of finishing one of the most gruelling ultra races in the world. Six runners share their race day experiences with Modern Athlete.
Keith Reynolds, Irene ROAD Running Club
Race Time: 8:13
All preparations for 2010 went well; I clocked exactly 1 700km from January to Comrades and was running better times than
I had in the past ten years.
On the morning, I met up as planned with the ‘Silver Bus’ hopefuls. From the beginning I was on cruise control. I was amazed to see how easily we got up the hills. At one stage we were even running below 4:20min/km pace.
By the time we got to Drummond (close to schedule at 3:39), Dirk cautioned us to pull back on the climb out of Drummond. With 36km to go I had a personal time check – I was eight minutes ahead of where I was when I ran my best time in 1989.
At 65km I took a short walk (exactly 50 paces) to stretch out a bit and reward myself for having run further without stopping, compared to previous years.
Then all of a sudden, I felt I was going slower and slower.
I got incredibly dizzy and despite still running downhill the pace dropped to well over 6min/km. I walked and ran over the next 2km at over 7min/km. Tony (Benoni Northerns) came past and gave me an energy bar, but the damage had already been done as I had made the mistake of running only on supplements and not the normal food intake I would have had in previous years.
I battled my way through Pinetown knowing that the great Irene supporters were only a few kilometres away. I got to the tent and was fed a combination of sandwiches and whatever else was available. After a few minutes I felt less dizzy and proceeded on my way up Cowies Hill.
I had crossed over the timing mat at Cowies in 5:59:20 – still
in silver time but I realized it was just not going to happen.
The hardest part of the remaining 18km was trying to keep going, knowing that all the effort I had put into preparation, had still not paid off.
Wendy Fitzmaurice (Westville) passed me on Berea Road and made the comment we all know so well – it doesn’t matter who you are or what you plan before the race, the race will level all and make you humble.
All was not at a loss this year. Following the race while in Mooi River we came across a charity shop. For some strange reason, my wife Vanessa mentioned to the owner that we had just come up from the race. The woman got quite excited and led us to an elderly woman who was knitting squares. It turns out the elderly woman was none other than Elizabeth (Betty) Cavanagh – the first official female winner of Comrades in 1975! We had a
great chat and also discovered that Betty had ‘given’ her permanent number (462) to her daughter who completed her third run this year.
Now it’s time to sit down and work out what went wrong this year and fix it so I can pick up the pieces and plan again for a ‘better’ next year.