MENU
26 Nov, 2015

Running with Jed’s Voice

2247

For months leading up to the event, I visualised crossing the finish line with my chest puffed out and the biggest smile on my face, but no matter what I achieve, my son isn’t with me to share the elation. Cross a million finish lines, Jed is never going to be there, his big blue eyes looking for his mommy in the crowd. I knew that going into Comrades, and I knew that when finishing… because my pain is always with me. – BY BONITA SUCKLING

The Comrades Marathon start line was surreal. I looked over and saw a man holding his hand on his heart, like a US soldier going to war, while singing the words of our National Anthem. I guess that was my ‘a-ha moment’ and I realised “damn, I’m gonna run 87km!” Chariots of Fire had me snotting a little, as I thought of the meaning of the Comrades, while hugging friends and strangers next to me. I had spent six months eating, sleeping, chanting and worshipping this event (of which six weeks was spent reading and not running due to an injury).

The race started and immediately, from the first kilometre, I felt my ankles hurt, my knees felt strange, and my PinkDrive sock had an annoying crease. By the fifth kilometre I knew that it was going to be a long day out, but I didn’t need to conserve energy or hold back – I have one pace, and I just ran at that pace. Instead, I want to remember every highlight of the event in every detail, but still, these are the ones that stood out for me…

Getting to the point where I knew I only had 56km left… I knew I had run 56km before and kept telling myself if I could get to 56km to go, then I could finish. I would just press repeat on my physical ability button. I forgot that at that 56km mark I would have already run 31km (or 33km, as my Garmin says we eventually ran 89km), but seeing that 56km sign was incredible. I also took out the names of the other 55 children I have printed on my hankie and wiped my tears away...

Meeting my close friends along the route was another highlight, but I needed a pee badly, so I had picked up the pace as I saw a massive rock with an invisible ‘pee behind me’ sign. I sprinted to the rock, but it was also at that point that I passed my friends. I can only imagine what they thought as I sprinted past them! All I was thinking was get to that rock; they were probably thinking psychosis!

Passing the school of disabled children, seeing their smiles and high-fiving their hands as I ran past… a highlight I can’t put into words. Anyone who knows how much I love children will know how much this moment meant to me. I pictured hitting Jed's hand as I ran past. If only…

Meeting up with my mate Gavin was another highlight. I am forever indebted to him for my Comrades time. I never doubted I would finish, but I would never have done a 10:45 without his enthusiastic “Dig deep, girl, dig deep… remember why you’re doing this.” Reaching for Gav’s hand at the 75km mark when I was in a dark patch, looking into his eyes and saying, “Thank you, Gav.” He knew I was talking about my son at this point and just said, “It’s okay, girl, it’s okay.”

Of course there were massive lows and dark moments, too. The reality that no matter what I achieve, it will never bring my son back. The reality that they may never find a cure for cancer, and that no matter how many times I run Comrades (or do the Ironman), research budget constraints will remain a concern. But the little voice in my head kept saying, “Go Mommy, make today the funnest day ever!” That little voice was what the day was about... Jed's voice, and the faces of the mommies who were waiting for me to cross that line in memory of their children. #CozJedMatters.

Bonita heads up Rainbows & Smiles, a public benefit organisation that provides emotional, social and financial support to families and caregivers when a child of that family is diagnosed with cancer. More info at www.rainbowsandsmiles.org.za, or contact her on 011 609 4392 or bonita.suckling@gmail.com.