This is a poignant tale of taking two novices through their first marathon. On 22nd March 2009, two unwilling victims – Arnold Paikin and Johann Scholtz – were dragged through their first marathon. This blog chronicles the pathos and pain of that experience. The first half of the blog is my experience of that baleful race and the second is Arnold’s plaintiff riposte to an uncaring slave driver – that is me. Tell me which version that you believe. His or mine?
My version of that momentous day
Clearly it would not be terra incognito for me having already done in excess of 90 marathons & ultras. Contrary to expectations, I have a view that, despite having completed so many, one’s body is not designed to run that far; especially mine. The reason that I say terra incognito is that if one has never run a marathon before, one probably extrapolates from how one felt after a half marathon & imagines – wishful thinking really – that another 21kms cannot be that difficult. Surely not? How can it? What is not factored into that equation is that the body exhausts its glycogen supply after approximately 30kms and then one hits the wall. Apart from that, the body at that point is no longer making timid suggestions that would the mind please desist from such stupid behaviour but now throws a tantrum in the form of pain, blisters & generally becomes bolshie.
It is not just the record breakers in Road Running, such as Bruce Fordyce, who are the heroes. Heroes come in a multiplicity of shapes, forms and even abilities. One does not want to detract from the winners’ performance, but these unsung heroes are what breathe life into a sport.
Recognition in sport is normally only accorded to the winners. They are lauded and receive the accolades, prizes and sponsorships. Many others also need to be recognised for their achievements. One such program that aims to do just that, is the 1000km Challenge.
Over the weekend of 16th / 17th August, two road races were held which highlighted Gauteng’s gracious & glorious past. Too focused on their running, many failed to notice or care. But I did. Isn’t that partly what running is all about?
What is the essence of a great race? What ingredients does it require before the majority of the runners will exclaim, “That was a superb race!” Of course all situations will all have their cynical detractors who will censure or dismiss with scorn even the best organised events. One such runner was Eugene. Perhaps due to his brilliant mind, he would deprecatingly scoff at the organisation of even the best organised events.
A recent spate of high entrance fees culminating in Old Eds charging R100 for a 10km race and R120 race has revived the issue. Does this herald the change in road running from a cheap to an expensive sport?
The race that leads the pack in terms of high fees is the 702 Walk the Talk which cost me R140 for a 20km walk. Considering that participants no longer even receive a free T-Shirt, I considered it exorbitant. For whatever reason in my mind, this race is viewed as an event rather than a “race” and hence it was forgiven.
This would be the coldest race that I have ever run in my life. With snow on the Berg and a wind off the mountain, there would be both a gusting wind and sub-zero temperatures to contend with
At five thirty on a wintry May morning in Warden it is usually cold. The tentacles of frost cover the fields as the subdued cattle in the stubble fields patiently await the first yellow brightness in the eastern sky.The desiccated mielies whisper in the breeze, shrugging off their frosty appendages. The pre-dawn mist hangs in the dips and valleys mapping out the twists and turns of the water course.
But this day was different. Extremely different. The temperature gauge in my BMW reads minus 5 degrees but with the wind chill factor from a snow covered Drakensberg, the actual temperature must have been below minus 10 degrees.
My Comrades Debut and Swansong, all in one Race
Standing amongst the throngs on a chilly May morning in Pietermaritzburg waiting for the starting gun, one is both inspired and in trepidation in equal measure. One banishes the thoughts of pain awaiting one and attempts to focus on the result: utter jubilation and delight at being able to conquer ones mental and bodily constraints.
The Journey from Searing Back-Pain in late 2013 to Running Races again in Respectable Times
Last Saturday’s [31st May 2014] 10km race entitled The Great Race produced an eponymous result for me: a great race. After battling for 6 months to run even something as short as a 10km race without leaving me almost comatose, finally I experienced a running redux.
A redux means to be brought back or to arise but it does not imply or denote any religious connotation like a resurrection but rather an activity that occurs in some non-religious manner.
Report back on the Dawn to Dusk 80km Running Race in August 2013
A few weeks ago [July 2013] I became aware that Nigel was becoming concerned about my running ability. Normally when one has a running mate and one beats them convincingly without even trying, one has no compassion. One just feels elated at thrashing one’s competitor.
Then it struck me. It had nothing whatsoever to do with empathy or even sometimes a mock show of compassion, but real unadulterated concern: the Dawn to Dusk was drawing neigh!
Nigel definitely had a Poisoned Chalice!
What did it take me to get over my mid-life crisis in my early forties?
Maybe the whole world was not aware that I was having a mid-life crisis but I certainly did. I was forced to confront the fact whether life was slipping me by when I received an invitation to the 25th Reunion of the 1971 Matrics of the Alexander Road High School in Port Elizabeth.
Up until that point I would have rated my Personal Satisfaction Index as fair to good. I would never have rated it is as excellent because intrinsically I realised that I could have done better. That feeling was certainly more visceral than intellectual. But now I was forced to confront the issue from a practical point of view rather than in some indecisive way.