Comrades focus

2017-06-06 06:00
 Photo: suppliedMichelle Donne at the Comrades Marathon ‘remembrance wall’.

Photo: suppliedMichelle Donne at the Comrades Marathon ‘remembrance wall’.

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AFTER a serious injury and being told she will never run another Comrades, Assagay mom, Michelle Donne, is back to tackle the ultimate human race, the 2017 Comrades Marathon on 4 June.

Running is something Donne is passionate about. She’s also the Hillcrest Villagers women’s captain, to top it.

She said her passion for the sport dates back to the eighties - the Bruce Fordyce “running era”.

“I watched Comrades every year on TV and I was mesmerised by the participants and I wanted to do it one day. I, however, was not the sporty type at school so I didn’t know when this would happen. However, in 1998 we moved to Pietermaritzburg so I had no excuse [not to run Comrades]. I overheard some ladies in the parking lot of my daughter’s pre-school who were chatting about their training. It was September 1999 and I asked if I could join, and that was that.”

Donne trained hard and ran her first Comrades in 2000 at the age of 26 - the millennium year with over 24 000 runners, and finished in 10:40.
“It still remains my best time. Unfortunately, I got divorced shortly thereafter and hung up shoes for many years as I had two young children to raise. But I knew I would be back, and fast forward a couple of years, I returned to run three more. Unfortunately, I did not finish in 2014 and have battled with injuries since. So, lining up this year’s race means everything because in January 2016 I was told I would never run another Comrades.”

She said her training this year have been fraught with set-backs. “I had a nasty fall in February, but after some rest I came back to qualify at PMB Marathon in 4:38, which gives me a G-batch seeding.

“It was only after this that I decided to give Comrades another bash and so I only entered Comrades at the end of March by way of a substitution entry.
“No sooner had I qualified when one morning at a training session I picked up a grade one calf tear which has also affected my hamstring.

“So once again I rested and have cut down on mileage and I have being seeing a physio every week. I have only done about 800 kilometres since January, but my mind is strong so I am lining up a tad undertrained, but still looking forward to the day and being a part of this amazing race that is in my blood.”

Donne‘s role model in the running world is Rob Collins. “He is a Villager member now living in Cape Town and he has run 38 Comrades and this year will be lining up at the age of 72. His passion for this race matches mine and we speak a few times a week about it and my training. His advice is very important to me and I can honestly say a humbler man you will not find. I am honoured to call him my friend.”

Donne says she is proud to be tackling the race again. “During a freak accident a few years ago, I nearly lost my big toe and all my troubles started there. One injury after another forced me off the road for long periods, but even when a surgeon said, ‘no more that's it’, I was determined I would run it again.
“Whether I finish it or not, every kilometre is a bonus but I am certainly going to give it my 150%. “Life is like a camera, focus on what is important, don't sweat the small stuff, capture the good times, develop from the negative and if things don't work out, take another shot.


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