My lesson in running for fun

2012-06-04 00:00

IT doesn’t get easier, no matter how much you run it, but by my third Comrades this year I had learnt one thing: how to have fun.

And it seems that most of the 13 000 people who started had the same goal. We walked up hills and ran down, and high-fived the kids and thanked the amazing volunteers at the food and water tables.

And of course the crowds were awesome as usual. The weather meant that people came out in numbers and camped out by the road. Seeing them in their camping chairs, I made a resolution to sit for a week.

Politics hardly featured this year in the race, unlike the past two years. In 2011 the election brought branches out next to the road, and in 2010 there was still Zuma-euphoria, and of course the World Cup.

This year I saw a man with a cardboard cut-out of his son, almost four years old, who had “helped” him. I hear the runner made a bronze.

There was also a man with a cross, another with a flag proclaiming “Jesus is power”, and a blind runner running with a sighted athlete.

It was a race where the feel-good factor brought tears to my eyes. Deciding to drop back for a Vic Clapham medal (a finish between 11 and 12 hours — I finished in 11 hours and 13 minutes) helped me see a lot more than I would have had I missioned for a bronze. I waved at the spectators and stopped to take pictures of the station from the highway bridges.

The weather really played along. It wasn’t too cold this morning when we started; there was some cloud, but no rain and the finish was warm. It was only the wind that challenged us a bit in the first half.

Tweeting the race also helped with the “slow down and enjoy it” part.

I tweeted most of the race, but went somewhat quiet around the 50 to 70 km mark.

That was the most difficult part of the race, with tiredness setting in and the finish line still just a tad out of reach.

The Twitter crowd was amazing, cheering me on from their beds, coffee shops (with cake and coffee in front of them) and their lounges or office. My friends and family also followed and sent through messages of support when the going got tough.

It was enough to pull even the most despondent runner through.

A cameraman also met me at a few points in the race to put together a story about the tweeting journo runner. It’s set to air on SABC next Sunday.

As great as yesterday was, I don’t think I’ll be back next year. With age comes wisdom, sore knees, and achilles problems. The doctor will be pleased, for one.


Texting as she ran to arrive with a bang — and a crampy little whimper

CARIEN du Plessis (@carienduplessis) kept up a constant stream of tweets as she ran. Here are a selection of her musings at #comrades2012.

• Nkosi Sikilel’iAfrika sung. Now shosoloza. I want to cry. This is so far from spear. Why can’t all politicians just be #Comrades2012

• Chariots of fire. The crowd cheers. 5minutes to go

And the gun. We’re off. More of a walk than a run

• Passed 88km mark a while ago. Man on middlelman of rd shouting for friend. Everyone shouts: hier is ek!

easy pace. Feel good

• Sweating now. 85km mark approaching. People throwing their warm clothes to locals. Doing our 1st uphill

• Blind guy just passed me. Holding hands with another. Another man wearing stockings. 2 sing Siyaya e Durban.

• 80km to go. This must be Polly Shortts. Downhill. Better than last year’s uphill. This is where I died #

• 72km to go. Wind. A woman loses her cap. A yummy braai by Lion Park water point. The cruelty of SA marathons

• 60km to go. Some men wee standing up by the road and that gives me spear envy. I need a loo. Sun out, salt on my face, wind

• Cato Ridge I think. 1st cut off at 10.40. Made it. Workers in orange shout woza

— Spectator shouts go Japan. I thought Tokyo’s maybe running but no, it’s an international athlete

• Guessing this is Inchanga hill. People walk. We’re not in a hurry. Walking about the same pace as running anyway

• With a standard marathon to go, Game waterpoint tells us Mamabolo won. Every­one on road is cheering the South African

• 40km to go. Walking up Botha’s Hill. Rest of body too tired to think of ­achilles tendencies.

• Bailers bus tempting us. It’s filling up. We keep going. Big in Japan plays. We think of international runner. About 30 to go

• About 15 or 16km to go. We walk on highway. Speed limit 100kmh. I wish. I wish. Passed Mark Heywood (sp!?) and TAC, stretching

• Walking up N3 past mosque. Massive crowds. Some drink. I envy those who sit. I want to sit for a week. 8+ to go

• Thanks for wishes all! You’re a dream twitter crowd. I’m getting there

• Now a man with a white cross passes me. Earlier a man with cardboard of his little son, who is ‘helping’ him

• Guy just collapsed in road with cramp. His woman friend is fixing it. Maybe that’s why men get cramps

• This is the longest 1km in human history. But I’ll have to slow down for gun. I’m 50 mins early!

• Done!!!! In about 11hours13min. Battery died right on cue before I entered stadium. Crampy but happy!! Shed 3 tears too

• The finish gun has sounded and its all over. Chariots of fire playing. Want to cry again. Right, let’s see if I can get up now

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