So close, yet so far for Comrades first-timer

2013-06-03 00:00

SHE almost made it; but her feet just couldn’t carry her far enough to touch the red carpet at the halfway cut-off in Drummond.

Spectators were cheering for her to go on and she was sprinting and panting.

But the gun was fired at 11.40 am just seconds before Thembi Nhlapo of Benoni could cross the halfway mark, and the red tape ended her hopes of completing her first Comrades Marathon.

She was so close, yet so far away.

The bystanders felt her frustration and photographers and journalists engulfed her, quizzing her about how she was feeling.

Everyone felt her disappointment, but Nhlapo said she didn’t feel too bad about it herself.

“That was very hard hey. But it’s one of those things,” she told The Witness, adding that she had worked extremely hard for her first Comrades.

“I’ll come back next year and I’ll finish it,” she vowed, as she chewed on ice to keep cool.

The 41-year-old runner said the race isn’t child’s play.

Even though she gave it her all, she admitted that she knew she wasn’t going to make it.

“The more I went, the tougher it got.”

She also almost gave up at the 37 km mark, but she pushed her limits and said she is proud to have made it that far.

Nhlapo, who works at O.R. Tambo Airport, said she was the only woman in her team from work.

Ronette Swan (45) from North West was the last to just make it through the halfway mark.

“It was terrible to have been the last one. I normally get there in five hours,” she said.

Although she persevered, she didn’t finish the 86,96 km race.

She battled through cramps, but eventually couldn’t go on.

Swan finished all her seven previous races but this time, the wind, extreme heat and flu stood in her way.

“You must know when to stop. I’m fine, but I’m a bit sore,” she told The Witness.

Asked whether she was going try it again in 2014, she gave it a long thought and laughed before she said: “I must come back to do this thing.”

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