I’ve been a runner the past 13 years. Not one of the fastest and not last at races, but nevertheless someone whose way of life and personality incorporates being able to run. I started running by chance in 1997. A friend of mine asked me to join the local Run Walk for Life club with her in Kimberley. I told Elise Kruger, the club manager, that I can’t run. Elise’s answer was simple: I’ll teach you! When I ran my first 5km, it felt like completing my own Comrades. In 1999, I ran my first Two Oceans half marathon. I slept in my T-shirt and wore my medal for a week!
Then 8 years ago, I joined the Run Walk for Life club in Somerset West. There manager Marie Barnard taught me to dream BIG. I completed my first 30km, marathon, Two Oceans Ultra and last year my first Comrades, which I finished in just over 12 hours. It made me determined to go back and get my medal. Then this year, disaster struck. I was preparing for my 4th Two Oceans Ultra and my 2nd Comrades when I broke a toe. I had a splint on my foot and Two Oceans was off the cards. Then just as I was running comfortably again, I fell from our loft and shattered my heel bone! That meant 8 weeks in a cast! Suddenly I was completely dependant on my husband and son and friends for everything. To top it all, 4 weeks into my 8-week ordeal, I picked up a nasty bug and landed up in hospital.
When I was released, I was in a cast, on crutches, weak, pale and thin. I sat glued to the TV the day of Comrades, tracking my friends and saying to myself, I will never be able to run again. But I underestimated my running buddies. They would pop in and never talked about IF I’m going to run again, but always WHEN. I realised in these weeks how I took my ability to be able to run, to move without pain or discomfort, for granted.
Last night I ran 3.2km. Well okay, I ‘moved’ 3.2km, half running, half walking. I have no doubt in my mind that in a month’s time I will be running again and early next year I will be able to qualify for Oceans and Comrades. But even that is not so important anymore. The fact that I can run and move again is amazing and makes me extremely grateful. The encouragement of my running buddies from my club and from as far as Pietermaritzburg, my non-running friends and my family helped me to get through the last nearly 4 months. I will never take being able to run for granted again. – ZELDA GOODERHAM, RUN WALK FOR LIFE SOMERSET WEST
If the CMA go ahead with Comrades substitution (which I think is a great idea), please can I pick up my substitute at the 65km mark? – BRUCE CLARK
Losing the Plot
I have been participating in Comrades since 1995 and have many wonderful memories, but these are starting to be clouded with the idea that someone is losing the plot! Let’s start with the Comrades expo, where thousands of people wondered around with money burning in their pockets, but the items available were very limited and the wrong sizes.
At the start, the toilets were positioned right outside the seeding batch entrance gates and people were climbing over the toilets. There were panicked moments when people were pushing from behind and I believe I now know what it is like to get caught in a stampede.
The TV coverage again lived up to what we have come to expect. Why should my family, who watch all day in the hope that they get a glimpse of me, have to look at the people in the studio instead of what is happening on the road? And then there was the finish. There was no hot water in the green number club, which meant no tea, no coffee and no soup. Good luck with next year’s race. I hope to write a letter again, with a much more positive spin! – BELINDA SKINNER
Aren’t Pack-runs Great?
Pack runs are usually the cornerstone of a running club. They provide about half of our weekly training mileage (if not all in some cases). They also provide about half of our weekly social interaction (if not all in some cases). It is a time where you can learn a lot about yourself and others, and I don’t just mean how fit you are, or what rugby team your clubmates support. It is a time when characters and personalities are really on show, for better or worse.
The Myers-Briggs personality type indicator (Google it!) states that there are 16 general personality types derived from where you fall on four different poles. For example, one pole is the Introvert / Extrovert pole. All of us will be somewhere between the two extremes, but generally more to one side. The fun starts if we apply this to our ‘lab rats’ on our early morning pack-run. For example, the runner who usually runs just behind your group but never contributes to the conversation, is likely to be on the introverted end of the I/E pole. At the other end of this pole are the extroverts, also easily identified, or let’s say heard, because they seem able to carry on a conversation all by themselves for the entire run! The other personality type of interest is the structured runner, who usually arrives ten minutes early with hair perfectly done. The unstructured ones arrive just on time, or late, and look like they just went ten rounds with an obnoxious pillow.
The gadgets we use are also good indicators for this personality pole. The runners wearing the GPS monitors that take up half of their forearms will tell you your current running pace and distance. On the opposite end are the runners with the R50 stop watches, or even no watch at all. If you ask them for the running time, and they will likely realise that they didn’t even start their watch.
One thing is clear, there is no right or wrong behaviour, but it can be great fun to see these traits in action. Understanding why some people are a certain way helps us to be more tolerant and inclusive. At the end of the day that is what a pack-run is all about. Heck, that is what life is all about, too. – DARREN DUKES
Confessions of an Addict
My name is Ray and I am a run-a-holic. It all started back in high school with a 10km here, a 15km there, the odd 21km, nothing serious. Then in standard 9 I ran a 32km, that’s when things changed. Now I’ve run five Comrades. I find myself sneaking in a run wherever I can, in the early mornings before my wife wakes up, during my lunch break or a quickie after work. I just can’t stop, I love running. I’m addicted. – RAY ORCHISON