In no other country in the world, is an endurance athletic event the pinnacle of achievement for the average citizen. Over 90 kms of arduous hills, the Comrades winds its way between Durban & Pietermaritzburg in South Africa. How did this race become an institution and receive the acclaim that it does?
Having completed this race, the Ultimate Challenge as it is known, I have also been drawn by its allure and experienced the mind altering odyssey that is Comrades. Unlike other athletic events, this race attracts not only athletes but also the athletically challenged, as I am, to endure the mental and physical challenges of a race that is, upon sober reflection, beyond one’s physical capabilities.
Main picture: Wally Hayward at 80 years old completing the 1989 Comrades with Les Hackett just within the 11 hour cut-off.
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.
Quite frankly by rights Kurt Radzom should have accepted a formal leadership position in Quo Vadis on George Malan’s hasty departure from the Club after the 120km Amatola Hike in 1989. Instead I naively accepted the role. Not that it conferred a large stipend or prestige, but insofar as the duties were involved, it was more akin to that of an Executive Secretary’s role.
Gauteng requires a big city marathon on the scale of the London Marathon but the Gauteng Sports Challenge doesn’t fit the bill
With all the hype & a large dollop of prize money, one would expect world class organisation, a stunning route a la the Two Oceans & the excitement of a large-city marathon.
Instead the Gauteng Sports Challenge of 2013 had none of these attributes.