I’ve been the best prepared in terms of training but I had my worst Comrades ever. At least I know it wasn’t just me but everybody. Normally about 20% of the starters at Comrades fall out, this year it was 30%.
It was like a war zone, people falling in the road and just staying there, people crawling, people puking, people crying and sitting and lying next to the road. The silence was eerie, none of the normal chatter, laughter and jokes. Not even running, just a grim silence of people trying to walk to the end.
The heat was a definite factor and then a dry head wind picked up and blew you backwards, it really was two steps forward and 1 step back.
And then the shins that didn’t give me any problems during the year flared up. The pain was beyond believe. I was too tired to run but it was too sore to walk.
With about 15km’s to go I stood next to the road, with my hands on my knees, not knowing where I’ll find the strength to carry on – a man from Katlehong club grabbed my hand and told me he’ll stay with me, we stayed together for a short while and he talked and talked and talked to me. After a while I couldn’t anymore and I told him to go.
With about 8 kilometres left – on the infamous Polly shorts I saw a bail bus driving up the hill – I turned around, burst into tears and flagged the bus down. As I was getting in, the other runners pulled me out and chased the bus away. They promised the bus driver that they’ll look after me. So I started again, walking in agonising pain.
And then I just sat down, in the dust next to the road on Polly shorts. Crying, watching the tears make little dust bombs in the sand. Praying for help, help to finish or help to stop or help to alleviate the pain but any help. And God send me two angels – a man and a woman who has done 27 Comrades’ between the two of them. The girl ripped her sunglasses off and mine as well and told me to look at her – and she told me that I WILL make it, she knows I can and that there is enough time. The man asked where it hurts and I told him and he told me he’ll show me how to walk and run to make the pain less but I must get up. And I took this man’s hand and he helped me up and he showed me how to walk like a flat footed duck and he stayed with me to the end and we did finish.
And once again I realised how powerful running is and how powerful my fellow Comrades are and how colour, religion, culture and political viewpoints has no relevance. I walked hand in hand for more than a kilometre with a black man from Katlehong. I cried in the arms of a Coloured man and I put my trust in a man with the kindest eyes in the world, I had now idea who or what he is but it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered, we were suffering together and we pulling together to a common goal. And it was all that mattered and it just makes me so sad because if we can do it when running, why can’t we do it for our country and our children – just put our differences aside and work to have the save and prosperous South Africa we all want.
Anyway – today I’m sitting with a leg that is about 3 times as big as normally and the colour of raw liver. I don’t think I’m going to run for quite a while. My appointment with the doctor is in a short while because this leg does not look good.