Local Comrades heroes celebrate success

2016-06-02 06:00
Photo: supplied VAC’s Comrades entrants (from left), Alan Govender (first Comrades finish), Walter Mthembu (Bill Rowan winner in first Comrades), Anita Sewnarain (VAC’s first female finisher) and Krish Naidoo (24 Comrades medals).

Photo: supplied VAC’s Comrades entrants (from left), Alan Govender (first Comrades finish), Walter Mthembu (Bill Rowan winner in first Comrades), Anita Sewnarain (VAC’s first female finisher) and Krish Naidoo (24 Comrades medals).

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THEY say that every long journey begins with a single step, and with 89.21 gruelling kilometres in front of them, thousands of brave runners had to take roughly 111,512 agonising steps before crossing the finish-line.

The same was true for all Verulam Athletic Club (VAC) runners taking to the tar on Sunday as they displayed sheer guts and glory on the iconic race’s 91st anniversary.

As the ultimate test of human endurance and personal resolve, runners had to battle looming deadlines at various cut-off points on the course while fighting their bodies’ natural urge to end the pain.

However, the exuberant crowd, together with support from club staff; erased the tiredness as team VAC was spurred on by the many words of encouragement coming from the spectators. This motivated the runners and jolted some into action to keep soldiering on.

Walter Mthembu, a novice runner in his first Comrades, chose not to use a watch to reduce his stress during the race, which duly paid off as he finished in a remarkable time of 9:57:26. This won Mthembu the only Bill Rowan Medal from VAC, who finished strongly as he crossed the line in Sahara Stadium, Durban.

“The long runs from Verulam to Durban Blue Lagoon certainly prepared me for this challenge,” he said as he collapsed at the finish.

Leading VAC Comrades campaigner and race veteran, Victor Nxumalo led the bronze medal charge by posting a strong time of 10:26, which secured him his 24th medal in the process.

“Smart, dedicated training and commitment took me to the finish this year. It was tiring, but a pleasing run despite those down-hills. I am eyeing out next year’s magic 25th medal,” said Nxumalo, who eclipsed his personal best in the down-run.

Unassuming Simon Blose, despite fatigue affecting him in the second phase of the race from Drummond to Pinetown and the punishing Cowies Hill that followed, he pulled off a gritty 10.46 to secure his seventh Comrades medal.

Johnny Karanjoo, another VAC Comrades veteran completed his 17th Comrades on Sunday and was very pleased with his result.

“Finishing is a feeling of extreme joy, despite the pain. I am now back on track for the Double Green number that comes with 20 Comrades medals,” he said.

VAC chairman and route support staff convenor, Bobby Ramlagan, together with Sundree Ramlagan, Pam and Tharushka Sookoo agreed that the performance of the VAC runners in this year’s Comrades was nothing short of inspirational.

“Our runners are inspiration to us all as despite the adversity, they all showed true strength of character in pushing through to the finish,” said Bobby Ramlagan.

“The never-give-up attitude of our women is pure gold, while the steely resolve of the men showed that they were not going to give up either,” he added, extending the club’s appreciation to all support staff and family members for their endless support to VAC runners.

The club’s ‘Aches and Pains’ post-Comrades event will be held on Saturday, 4 June at 3pm for runners to lick their wounds while they reminisce on the trials and tribulations of the race.


Bill Rowan Medal

Walter Mthembu 9.57.26

Bronze Medal

Krish Naidoo 10.16.40

Victor Nxumalo 10.26.14

Jacob Zitha 10.33.39

Simon Blose 10.46.34

Johnny karanjoo 10.51.15

Vic Clapham Medal

Pravin Sewnarain 11.02.46

Anita Sewnarain 11.31.20

Strini Nadesan 11.47.14

Marlene Pillay 11.55.01

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