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30 Aug, 2013

Stand by Me

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Stand by Me

It all started at the beginning of 2011, when I relocated from Richards Bay to start a new and challenging career in Johannesburg. I soon found it very lonely, despite being in such a big city, and after months of pouring myself into my work, I realised that the city had become too much for me and that my work had become my closest friend. So I moved to the outskirts of Delmas, close enough to commute to Johannesburg but far enough from the hustle and bustle of the city. It was here where I could get on a bicycle and ride for hours through the mealie fields and dirt roads, reminding me of my childhood and just how much I missed being so free.

 

COMRADES RUNNER IN THE MAKING

A friend of mine from Pietermaritzburg needed help with the handing out of medals at the finish line of Comrades 2012, and it was the first time ever that I attended such a huge running event. After the last competitor finished, I set my sights on running Comrades 2013. I also wanted to be an athlete, a competitor, and a part of something good and beautiful, though I weighed 127kg at that stage!

 

But as the winter of 2012 arrived my excitement for Comrades had disappeared. That which I desired so much had disappeared along with the summer sun. Luckily for me, Juan Van Dyk, a friend I met on Facebook, and his wonderful wife, Pierretta, invited me to participate in numerous winter trail events and it was in the freezing cold bushveld where I rediscovered my love for running.

 

Juan and Pierretta became more like family and I let my good friends know that my biggest dream was to run Comrades. Shortly afterwards, I received an e-mail from Juan with a training programme attached and I suddenly realised that true friendship was the belief in the abilities of our friends. I started losing weight and getting fit. It was not always easy, but I was focused on the end result.

 

Kilometre after kilometre of travelling to races, early mornings and late nights kept me on track. My running partner truly stood by me, advised me, taught me and believed in me, and made me the runner I am today. There were good days and there were bad days, but it was only one more piece of the puzzle in gaining the experience I desperately needed to complete The Ultimate Human Race. And so, on 2 June this year, I achieved my dream and completed Comrades in a time of 10:33.

 

GIVING BACK

I want to give back that which I had received in the past 11 months, and therefore today I run for Sudan for Jesus (S4J), an organisation that helps to collect money for Sudan. Our entire club also runs for ex-Springbok Joost Van der Westhuizen, and his J9 Foundation. We are trying to raise funds for the foundation and make athletes aware of the illness Joost is battling with.

 

I have learnt many lessons along the way:

?         Never say never again.

?         Cherish and love the people in your life who are there to help you.

?         If you are not capable of doing something, assist those who are.

?         Give back as much as possible.

?         Remember: People are in your life for a reason, or a season – or for always.