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01 Nov, 2011

A True Comrade

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A True Comrade

Each time people call me ‘Comrade’, it fills me with pride. I started training for the first time on 1 September 2008 by running four laps on a soccer field in my neighbourhood. Thereafter, I found myself running 12 laps and two weeks later I ran for the first time on the road. As hard as it was, I never stopped since then.

My first road race was the Striders 15km in Springs in 2009, which I finished successfully. The same year I ran my first marathon in Eldorado Park, followed by the Soweto Marathon later that year. It was beyond my wildest dreams when I finished Comrades last year and then the Two Oceans Marathon this year.

I thank people like Sir Richard Branson, my former teachers, my nephew and my family who inspire me and who always encourage me to believe in myself and to live life to the full. I wish that more young people would take sport seriously and realise that it can take them to new heights in life. – Henry Mngomezulu

Lucky to be Alive
I’m lucky to be alive, and it’s because of you blokes. Sometime just before Good Friday, a fair-sized DVT had formed in my right calf, unbeknownst to me. On Good Friday, a big chunk of this broke away and travelled up the veins into my heart, where it should have stopped everything in my body from working.

However, my heart is in such good condition that it managed to pump it clean through all the chambers and valves and spit it out the other side without missing a beat. I thought I had some sort of digestive pain, but four weeks later the doctors decided that the symptoms weren’t those of indigestion, and worth looking into further. A scan showed a pulmonary embolism and a DVT in my right calf. If I was as fit as a normal 56-year-old, I would probably have had a heart attack and be pushing up daisies by now. But I’m not, and it’s the regular cycling at a good pace with all you blokes for the past 25 years that I can attribute that fitness to.

Thanks lads (and lasses), it’s probably a fair thing to say I owe you my life. You never know what’s in store for you, but being fit and healthy isn’t going to hurt your chances of survival. Keep riding and keep healthy. See you on the road in about two months. – WANDY

Thank You Hein!
It’s Friday 27 May and I have been to the Comrades expo, got my first goodie bag and am ready to run this gruelling challenge called Comrades. My numbers are attached to my vest and I am as ready as can be, but the nerves and ‘have I done enough’ haunts me. Time to put my feet up and read my Modern Athlete mag, which I collected at the Expo.

Well, if I ever had any jitters, a man called Hein Wagner has just inspired me. One becomes so introspective, and then I look at Hein’s achievements and his sense of humour and attitude, and I am humbled and know that I can do this and take his advice: ‘If you are at the end of the rope, tie a knot and hang on’. So thank you, Hein – you are amazing! And to Modern Athlete: The advice you give is sound and easy for greenies like me! – SANDY MULLINS

Run for Health
I am a very young runner and have realised there is no sport where running is not included. If you are a runner you are able to participate in most other sports which help you with your health. Some people may think that running is a hard sport, but what they don't realise is that running can be fun and has so many health and weight-loss benefits. – SBONISO

The Meaning of Comrades
I ran my first Comrades in 1997 and it does define you! For me it was a day to truly get in touch with myself. Spending 11:51 with ‘me’ was a fantastic experience. I realised how goal-orientated I was, how dedicated I was to achieve, and that Comrades is truly a mental race.

Nothing comes close to the people I have met along the way and the training buddies that have become close friends. I have finished four Comrades and as I sit here with my tender and bruised body, I am anxious to do it all again.

When I run and finish Comrades, it makes me feel like nothing is impossible. And nothing is... I have such a positive attitude and spirit, and I know that when I apply my mind I can do anything. I have truly defined myself, thank you Comrades. – JEANINE FOLEY

Why Run Comrades as Fast as You Can?
I suppose by now your magazine has been bombarded by letters from readers telling more about their Comrades experiences. Well, I will be no different, but have a question in my letter as well.

I completed my first Comrades this year, but it was my second attempt. Last year I did not enjoy myself due to overloading on carbo products and landing up just short of renal failure. This year I used nothing and felt on top of the world!

I finished in 11:32 and would not change my running pace at all. I don't know why people want to race through this race and not soak up everything on offer? If it was not for taking it easy, the people I interacted with along the route and the beautiful and breathtaking surroundings, I would have easily bowed out to the 'brick wall' I hit at about 30km.

I had a friend running his ninth and he has always run sub-9s. This year he ran a 10:30 and said it was the best experience he has ever had!

I know there are thousands of runners that will shoot me for what I have to say and they will say it is the Ultimate Human Race and you have to push yourself. I ask why? Is it not enough for us select few (and I say that, as there are not many in the world that can say they have run The Comrades Marathon) just to accomplish and enjoy the race and take in everything the Comrades Marathon has to offer?

A very big thank you to the Comrades Marathon Association and every person along the route. It was an awesome experience. It makes me want to run it every year. – STEVEN VIENINGS