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Veteran runner gears up for 12th Comrades Marathon

The Bluff Athletic Club runner Donovan LeLong aims to complete his 12th Comrades Marathon. LeLong shared that he will be running this year’s marathon on experience and positive vibes.

AS the 2024 Comrades Marathon looms, veteran runner Donovan LeLong is gearing up to tackle the gruelling ultra-marathon for the 12th time.

Also read: Bluff runner ready to take on 20th Comrades Marathon

Representing The Bluff Athletic Club, where he holds the position of vice-chairperson, LeLong’s path to the starting line is a testament to his dedication, community involvement and unwavering determination.

LeLong’s running journey began in 2010 with the Harlequins Harriet’s where he competed until 2016. His affiliation with The Bluff Athletic Club started in 2017, marking the beginning of a strong bond with his fellow runners.

“The Bluff Athletic Club is an incredible community,” LeLong said. “The camaraderie among runners is immense and has been life-changing for the better.”

With 11 successful Comrades Marathons behind him, LeLong’s track record is commendable. However, this year brings a new challenge. His training mileage stands at approximately 300km, significantly below the 800km typically recommended for the event. Balancing training with family commitments has been a key factor.

“Running, especially for the Comrades, demands a lot of time,” LeLong explained. “I have a five-year-old and chose to prioritise family because children grow up so quickly. So, I’m relying on my experience and positive vibes. I’m someone who never gives up easily.”

LeLong’s foray into marathon running began almost by accident. “One night, after a few drinks with friends, I met an old friend who had just completed the Comrades Marathon. Fuelled by liquid courage, another friend and I decided to sign up for the race. We thought if we broke it down into 18 times 5km time trials, we’d be fine. Little did we know about the extensive training required, especially to qualify for Comrades,” LeLong recalled.

Despite the rigorous preparation and the challenge of balancing life’s demands, LeLong has no regrets. His running journey has led to significant personal growth and the formation of lasting friendships. “I wouldn’t change how I started running,” he said. “It has been life-changing for the better.”

As race day approaches, with the support of his club and memories of past races feeding his resolve, LeLong is ready to face the ultimate test of endurance once more.

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