New Comrades record holder for most finishes

2017-06-14 06:02
Louis Massyn after completing his 45th Comrades Marathon.Photo: supplied

Louis Massyn after completing his 45th Comrades Marathon.Photo: supplied

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ATHLETE Louis Massyn ran his first Comrades in 1973 and every consecutive year thereafter for the next 44 years.

He is the third of seven children and never participated in long distance running at school.

This year he completed his 45th Comrades and now holds the record for the most Comrades completed by an athlete.

For the past 15 years, Massyn has stayed over in Amanzimtoti in the week leading up to the Comrades.

Amanzimtoti Fever caught up with him on Friday before Comrades while visiting friends.

Massyn ran under his team banner, Goudveld Multisport.

In celebration of Comrades, before the race the 66-year-old gave 45 of his running friends a T-shirt, which was emblazoned with the year of his first Comrades - 1973 to 2017.

His achievement over the years is made more significant in that his best time is 6:25 minutes, which translates to a “very good silver” and thereafter Massyn palmed nine more silver medals.

“In the fifties, six hours 25 minutes was a winning time... When I got my 10th silver, I told myself this is enough, now I really just want to enjoy Comrades,” he said.

Massyn has also completed 42 Two Oceans Marathons.

“I am the only athlete who has completed 40 Comrades and 40 Two Oceans. The next athlete who will be able to do this can only do so in eight years.

“The Two Oceans is 56km, the Comrades this year is 86,7km. The Two Oceans is much more challenging considering the degree of difficulty, but the Comrades is emotionally more draining, given the distance.

“The time for earning silver in the Two Oceans is less than that for Comrades, but the distance is further.”

When asked what motivates him to return year after year, he replied: “I do it because my co-athletes motivate me.”

When he ran his first Comrades, it was his first road race. He initially started the Comrades after attending an Anglican Church service, comparing the Comrades Marathon with the race of the believer.

“It was a confirmation service for me and I ran the Comrades the next year.”

Commenting on this year’s race, Massyn predicted it wouldn’t be easy, with three big hills Cowie’s, Field’s and Botha’s. He ended up running his best time for the past five years and qualifying for bronze.

Visiting the Comrades Expo before the event, Massyn was inundated with questions from novice runners.

Massyn was also asked to sign 10 route markers which were sold at a fund-raising auction on Monday.

“If you were to tell me 20 years ago, these emotional moments were to happen, I would never have believed it,” he said.

He said one of his friends said to him: “One day you will become Mr Comrades.”

Asked if he will run again next year, Massyn said it is an absolute blessing to have done so many years, but he will decide at a later stage.

“I normally rest for two months after the race and very important, I listen to my body,” he said.

His advice to other athletes - “be yourself and run within your own capabilities”.

He said he is not physically strong, but very strong mentally.

“When I am in a stride, I do not change anything, I just carry on. One of the other runners, Marius Heiberg, having ran with me till the 50km in the Two Oceans said, ‘you run a very irritating pace’,” Massyn said.

He practises 50km to 60km a week, sometimes 70km to 80km. “In my prime I never did more than 90km, maybe 100km during the holidays,” he said.

Massyn says he learnt from legends like Bruce Fordyce and Alan Rob and on the marathon side, he followed the Bernard Rose exercise programme and succeeded, thereafter he adapted it to his personal style.

“I love that it is an individual sport, not everyone can be a Bruce or an Alan, but everybody that completes a Comrades even in 11hours 59 minutes is a winner.”

Massyn and Fordyce are friends and two weeks ago Fordyce stayed over for the official opening of a Parkrun SA’s new course.

“Bruce completed 30 Comrades and he often tells people we have completed 74 Comrades between us and nine wins. He, of course, having all nine wins,” Massyn said.

 

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