Verulam Athletics Club ready for Comrades epic

2016-05-26 06:00
Some of the Verulam Athletic Club’s brave Comrades entrants for this year. Back (from left): Andrew Dlamini, Simon Blose, Johnny Karanjoo and Strini Nadesan. Front (from left): Vukani Maphumulo, Anita Sewnarain, Marlene  Pillay , Krish Naidoo and Pravin Sewnarain.x

Some of the Verulam Athletic Club’s brave Comrades entrants for this year. Back (from left): Andrew Dlamini, Simon Blose, Johnny Karanjoo and Strini Nadesan. Front (from left): Vukani Maphumulo, Anita Sewnarain, Marlene Pillay , Krish Naidoo and Pravin Sewnarain.x

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VERULAM Athletic Club (VAC) pronounced their readiness for the 91st running of the ultimate human endurance race: the Comrades marathon.

This year’s race is a ‘down-run’ from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, with all eyes and feet attempting to reach Sahara Stadium before 5.30pm on Sunday, 29 May.

At Saturday’s Comrades pasta send-off, coupled with the weekend’s Comrades development challenge run, all runners pronounced that they are free of niggles as the countdown begins to the running world’s own ‘theatre of dreams’.

Although dubbed the ‘down-run’, the first 27km is anything but downhill as runners are braced for challenging route this year, with a slightly longer run. The large field also makes movement on certain parts of the route restrictive.

Nevertheless, the sheer magnitude of the event as the largest of its kind anywhere in the world and its snake-like field of runners makes the Comrades an awesome sight to behold.

With spectators lining up the route from dawn ‘til dusk, the adrenaline keeps one going, despite the pain barrier.

Young and old, frail and fit; the throngs of people at the race’s vantage points encourage runners from all parts of the world to keep going, which, according to VAC’s member, Anand Naicker, makes the Comrades Marathon a “must-run race”.

“The Comrades is an event where race and status mean nothing as all competing runners are comrades; helping each other to reach one common goal: Durban Sahara Stadium by 5.30pm,” said Naicker.

“The thunderous applause that awaits the runners as they take to the grass on entering the stadium is an indescribable and cherished moment, never to be forgotten,” he added.

Verulam Athletic Club’s team in the Comrades is led by veteran Krish Naidoo, having completed 23 Comrades marathons and now attempting his 24th.

Other VAC members taking on the Comrades this year include veteran Johnny Karanjoo and speedster Vukani Maphumulo, who is shooting for a personal best.

“I think that this year will be my best ever as I have stepped up my training and followed the club’s elite programme for A-seeded runners.

“The silver is now in my range,” said Maphumulo, who is going for his ninth Comrades medal.

The athletics club also has three female runners taking to the road, who are led by the talented Nokukhanye Nsibande.

She will be joined by the dangerous Marlene Pillay, who is attempting her eight Comrades this year.

Anita Sewnarain, who shed off the novice tag last year with an accomplished finish during the ‘up-run’, makes a return for the prestigious back-to-back medal for two consecutive runs – both up and down this year.

“Despite a long layoff from debilitating injury, her determination has brought her through to qualifying and she is determined to use the lay off as a means of coming fresh into the race,” said Naicker.

Marlene Pillay and Strini Nadesan are on course for a historic VAC double celebration: the Two Oceans Marathon and Comrades Marathon double.

Running star Siyanda Makhanya, with three consecutive silver medals under his belt, will be attempting his fourth silver in under the 7 hours and 30 minutes cut-off.

Sifiso Mbonambi; a stalwart in distance running, is attempting his fifth Bill Rowan medal, and he also “cannot wait for Sunday to arrive”.

As scores of runners take to the road on Sunday, one thing remains true about the historic Comrades Marathon; it will humble you.

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