My Comrades: Modern Athlete readers share their Comrades 2010 experience

A Family Affair


I have always been a family man. I live for them! I remember the days my kids were born; I was the proudest man alive. Over the years they have excelled at so many things, making me even prouder, if that is possible!

My wife, Daphne, is my soulmate. She has always supported me and never complains. My son, Clayton, is my driving force in life. When he is up I feel good and when he is down, I feel the same. And then there is my daughter, Candice (who I call Nunks). She is still young but I learn from her every day. I love her discipline and determination; when she puts her mind to something she does it. She also puts me back in place when I need it! I have always loved running and have excelled at it. I have a sub-30 minute 10km time and a 2:46 marathon PB. I have never really enjoyed the long stuff. I have completed Comrades but not in a great time. Over the years I have kept running, but not seriously or regularly. Often life just got in the way and I also dedicated most of my time to my family. My biggest passion is my family, but I always knew I would get back into running eventually.

When Candice and Clayton decided to start running in 2006, it ignited my passion to start running again too. We started training together in the mornings. Clayton and I ‘pushed’ each other; we were never overly competitive, but rather motivated each other. Also, I was so proud to run with my daughter. I can’t describe the feeling of training with your kids.

Initially my wife wasn’t interested in running, but she always supported us at all the races. In my heart I knew that soon Daphne would be running too! That’s why I wasn’t too surprised when she entered her first race! Our family started ‘living’ running. Running was all we spoke about. The first thing we would ask each other every day and on weekends was: “How was your run?”

Over the weeks my own running started taking a backseat and I started helping my family achieve their running goals. Seeing them get through their challenges became so rewarding. I was still running with them but my role started changing slightly to that of coach. I was happy to give of myself to see them succeed. One of my proudest moments was seeing my wife and daughter cross the finish line of the Harrismith Mountain Race together. Soon my daughter’s husband, Shaun, also started running! This was really turning into a family affair.

In October 2009 Nunks told me that she wanted to run the 2010 Comrades. I was a little surprised as I did not expect her to want to run Comrades so soon. I had always said that I would only run Comrades again if it was with my children. I guess it was my turn! “Let’s do it!” I said to Nunks. I entered myself and Nunks, as well as my niece, Cindy, who was also keen to do it. I was to run the Comrades with my daughter and niece; what an awesome experience it was going to be. As the days went by I had to remind myself to calm down.

I had to put together a programme for the two of them and take many things into consideration. The most difficult thing for me was my own training. At that stage I was racing at under 4min/km but was running much slower with the ladies. My wife quickly reminded me to put my own racing goals aside as I had promised Candice that I would train with her and get her through Comrades.

We started planning our races and slowly built up to our qualifying marathon. In between I was already prepping them for what to expect on the day. I could see my daughter becoming a well-oiled machine: stronger, fitter and faster. Daphne supported us at all the races and in many cases, also ran the race in her own time.

We prepared for our first marathon in February and were hoping for a D seeding. We had a great race and ran into the stadium in a time of 3:50. We got our D seeding. Our training was on target; we covered 1 390km from January to May.

Finally the big day arrived. The crowd sang the national anthem, the cock crowed and the canon signalled the start of our epic journey. I got cold shivers knowing that together, Nunks and
I would be running the Ultimate Human Race. I cannot describe the feeling
I felt as a dad being able to run with my daughter.

We looked forward to the halfway mark at Drummond and went through in 4:45. That was when Candice told me that she was so happy to run with me, and that she would love to run with her child one day. At the top of Drummond we saw our seconds (Mom, Clayton and Shaun). I knew from this point that I had to work with Nunks’ and Cindy’s minds and reassure them that they were going to complete the race. The crowds that lined the roads were amazing. They certainly helped us along. In the last 4km before entering the stadium, it hit us: we were almost at the finish! Finally we entered the stadium. We crossed the line in 10:07. We had decided beforehand what we would do when we crossed the line. When the moment came, we took each other’s hands and finished the Ultimate Human Race together! Candice immediately said that she would do it again in 2011. I felt overwhelmed and knew I have done my job!

Clayton was so inspired by our performance at Comrades that he asked me to run Comrades with him next year! What an honour it would be to run my son’s first Comrades with him! Since Comrades our family has kept running together. In fact, running has actually spread like wildfire amongst our friends; some of my son-in-law’s friends have even started running!

I am looking forward to another year of sharing the passion for running with my beloved family. There are so many races to look forward to. My wife has not shown interest in running Comrades, but who knows? Maybe one day we’ll be running Comrades as a family, or perhaps one day, I will run it with my grandchild! It would be awesome to cross that finish line hand-in-hand with the people who matter the most to me.