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By Trevor Stevens

Editor


You’ve got this, comrades

The gees, tradition and sheer drama is something very few other races can match.


Many believe you should run at least one Comrades Marathon in your life. Many brave people have fulfilled this remarkable achievement – and more.

Once completed, you’ll probably run the ultramarathon in the opposite direction the following year, against your better judgment, and possibly many more times back and forth in the years that follow until the body gives way … or common sense prevails.

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It’s the ultimate human race, those brave people say. The reason? It’s a truly South African race, they say.

You have to experience the school kids and thousands of strangers cheering you on from the side through KwaZulu-Natal’s beautiful valleys. You have to sing the national anthem and Shosholoza at the start.

You have to witness the camaraderie from fellow runners of all shapes and sizes, races and ages and, ultimately, see if you can cope physically and mentally with the challenges the race presents.

I obviously know nothing about road running, nor will I ever claim to. I always wanted to run the Comrades, but late in my 40s, I’ve realised this substantial chunk of meat is not going to make the distance from Pietermaritzburg to Durban or vice versa, other than in a car or plane. Horseback will even do.

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My bulging stomach and weak knees limit me to the occasional parkrun and very rare 10km, if pushed, and I don’t really have the desire to put my body through that amount of torture.

Since watching the start of the race with my late dad as a child, and witnessing the agony and sheer relief in the last hour before the cutoff, I’ve always been drawn to the allure of the Comrades.

The gees, tradition and sheer drama is something very few other races can match. It’s unique … and it is proudly South African.

This year, I’m going to experience the race up close and personal – as a supporter … a seconder if there is such a word. My wife, a colleague – a club runner – and I are making the trip down to support two other colleagues in their quest of madness.

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One will be attempting it for the first time, the other a sixth. I’ve loved watching their preparations and can’t wait to see them tackle this beast tomorrow. Boys, you’ve got this. I bet my bulging belly on it.

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