Musketeer-like bonds are formed on road to Comrades Marathon

2010-05-27 00:00

THE bonds that are formed through the Comrades Marathon are legendary and lifelong.

This year, both Kay Cottrell and Carol Crosley will be wearing yellow numbers as they cover the 89,28 km between Pietermaritzburg and Durban for the twentieth time.

If all goes to plan the pair, who run together on a daily basis, will receive their double green numbers, 16015 and 17534 respectively, having shared the road for just under 10 hours.

Crosley — who has two silvers and three sub-nine hour Bill Rowan medals in her collection — and Cottrell started running together in 1997, along with another Comrades stalwart, Wendy Bloom.

Bloom secured her 20th Comrades in last year’s down run. Crosley and Bloom were running about three days a week and would regularly bump into Cottrell on their excursions around the Emmarentia and Greenside suburbs in Johannesburg. It didn’t take long to evolve into a musketeer-like friendship that has lasted for the past thirteen years.

“We must have run over 30 000 km together, maybe more,” said Bloom, who explained that practicality also initiated the running relationship. “A friend of ours was attacked near the zoo. We made an agreement that we would all run together as we all had roughly the same goals.”

“It didn’t take long for us to be known as the ‘galloping grannies’,” said Bloom, who had expected to watch this year’s race on TV in the comfort of her Johannesburg home.

However, Crosley and Cottrell had other plans. A request was made and accepted by the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) that the pair be presented their double green numbers by Bloom, who was subsequently invited to a lunch and asked if she would be prepared to make the trip.

Having accepted the honour, travel arrangements had to be put into place, but this was quickly resolved as another friend and runner, Aliki Heistermann, earned her wings and pilot licence last year and was only too happy to fly them down in a private plane.

Bearing in mind that the Comrades has only been open to women since 1975, the trio’s combined 60 medal haul accounts for a vast wealth of experience. Upon hearing of Bloom’s availability, her knowledge was quickly snapped up for other aspects of organising the marathon.

Her day will begin on the media vehicle at the front of the race, assisting journalists with the identification of the lead runners, and then on arrival at the Kingsmead finish, she will assist Cottrell’s husband Tom at the international tent until her two running compatriots arrive at the stadium.

“It’s a far cry from lounging in front of the TV watching and inevitably missing the race,” said Bloom. “Now it’s seems like a hectic day ahead, but one I am looking forward to. It’s an honour and an experience that I never expected.”

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