The weekend of Comrades 2014, my husband and I were in Durban, so we decided to go and watch. I got so inspired that I decided I would like to run the Ultimate Human Race, so in November 2014 I ran my first marathon in Soweto and qualified for Comrades 2015 by finishing in 4:29. Many other races and early mornings followed, and there was not only running, but sacrifices, tears and self-doubt. – BY COMFORT SELEBI
I am a mother of three. My eldest daughter is 21 years old and is studying at UP, my son is 16 and my last-born daughter is turning nine this December. For me to be able to meet my running buddies at the gym at 5am every morning, I had to find my kids transport to take them to and from school. Yes, I don’t see my kids in the morning. Thanks to my helper, she prepares the little one for school, and thank God I have a very supportive husband who understood that I had a goal that I wanted to accomplish. It wasn’t easy missing the family functions because I had to run, and some relatives didn’t understand why I had to go to training instead of being with my family… but I had a goal!
I remember crying in my car coming back from a Comrades Women’s Seminar in Pretoria which was on a Saturday, because when I looked at my watch it was 1:30pm, and my youngest daughter had a birthday party to attend which started at 12pm. I asked myself what kind of a mother I was. I didn’t have time for my kids during the week and I still didn’t have time for them on weekends… but I had a goal!
My son wrote me an inspirational letter and gave it to me just before we left for Durban: “As your son, I stand here a proud son. The reason why I say this is because you have inspired me in such a way that no one has. This tremendous race that you are about to take on is filled with many obstacles, but the fact that you are taking this head on, says a lot about you. I therefore take my hat off to you because it is one of the longest races in the world! It’s not for the faint-hearted and certainly requires a high level of training, dedication and determination. The collection of medals you have in your room is evident that you work hard to achieve what you want to achieve.”
“All these years, you have pushed me to great lengths and have always been quick to encourage me in everything that I do. Now it’s my turn to give back. As you run the Comrades Marathon, keep in mind that you have your friends, your family and most importantly God behind you. Even though we won’t be there when you cross the line, just know that you will be in our hearts. I only hope this is the beginning and not the end, because you are really good at what you do. I hope that you pray a lot, travel safely and arrive safely. You are the best Mom in the world and my best friend. Even if you don’t get a medal, it’s okay! Just focus on running at your best ability, and last but not least, have fun! Lots of love, Boyzaaa!!!”
With that inspiration, the day arrived and I got to the start. After doing my prayer, I told myself that not finishing is out of the question… this was a journey to go and fetch my medal, and I would not come back without it. At 35km I was worried, because I was told to start slow to reserve my energy, but it felt like I had no energy left. I remembered what I once read, that your mind gives up a hundred times before your body does, so I had to keep on pushing. As I got to the top of Polly Shortts, the last big uphill, one lady shouted, “Welcome to Pietermaritzburg!” Those were the sweetest words I’ve ever heard, and triggered something in me that said, “You made it!” I started sprinting – don’t know where I got the energy from, but I sprinted all the way to the finish line for an 11:06 finish.