All of a sudden, just minutes later, from blissful carefreeness, Comrades appears big and bold on the radar. OK, Not so big…or so bold yet, as we are still recovering from the late night as we bade farewell to the awesome 2010. Wow South Africa, you rock…or maybe it should be you vuuuv!
So, it’s now time to think about Comrades 2011. Being a GRE number runner, that’s halfway to the magical GREEN, it seems like just a few years ago that it all started. Oh, I suppose it was only a few years ago. But the love that started it all makes it seem like only a moment. It was our anniversary, and being a real romantic I knew I had to come up with a winner. Not flowers (too cliched), not chocolates (too fattening), not diamonds (too expensive)…of course, it’s obvious, the perfect romantic gift – a book on how to run your first marathon. Why had I not thought of it before; the gift that keeps on giving. Aah, I remember the tear of joy in Nicky’s eye as she unwrapped her gift. And as they say, the rest is history.
OK, I’ve had to improve on the quality of my romantic expressions, but that gift started an amazing journey. A journey of self-discovery, achievement, adventure, and experiences beyond what we could ever have imagined. After 16 weeks of training we stood at the start of our first marathon. Someone had forgotten to tell us to bring a snorkel and a wetsuit as the rain bucketed down. But we literally danced in the rain as we ran our very first marathon. It was amazing. But, with firm resolve, Nicky said she had achieved her goal and she would not run further. Six months later we stood, packed like smoked snoek at the start of our first Two Oceans 56km ultramarathon. Maybe it’s my good looks, or maybe it’s my flattering persuasion…or maybe it’s that my wife is just awesome…but whatever it was, we experienced the “world’s most beautiful marathon”.
It was amazing. It was beautiful. It was epic…Oh yes, and it was sore too…but that’s forgotten when sitting on a rock, sharing stories, sipping sparkling wine while witnessing God’s brush of pink and orange and red on the canvas of the sky. “But of course you realise Craig, I’m not running Comrades!”
“Yeah…More wine, dear?”
“Eish, it’s cold for Durbs! I never knew it could be this cold.” The smell of Deep Heat mingled with the nervous and excited chatter of the runners. Soon a wave of emotion washed over the 12,000 tightly huddled runners, as the epic, stirring music of Chariots of Fire swept all conversation away. Moments later the iconic sound of the rooster pierced the air followed by a loud boom, startling flocks of dozing pigeons. Comrades 2005 had begun…our first, and most amazing running journey ever.
It’s called the “ultimate human race” – but only those who do it really know this. Being part of a tide of humanity flowing up and down hills, all with a common end, all with common pains, all with common fears, all with a common bond – is just incredible. And then comes the moment when you enter the stadium. There are few runners, that trained for, that imagined, that journey to, that prayed for this moment, who will not feel the indescribable emotion as you set foot on the grass of the stadium. The cacophony of the announcers booming encouragement, the music, the cheering supporters, the recognition of loved ones, draws the weary runner, in a euphoric dream to that line and the medal beyond. And then finally…finally after 10 hours and 32 minutes we stop moving. But our world continues to move…on and on and on. A race had ended but a journey had begun – running for the pure love of it – whether the world’s most beautiful marathon or the ultimate human race – whether the familiar roads of our suburb or the dusty tracks of a game reserve.
And so, Comrades 2011 will see us joining thousands of others, huddled together in our human pens, nervously chatting as we ponder the epic adventure for the 6th time. All that remains is to shake off the festive fat that is clinging tenaciously to my waist like an unborn twin as we set off on our journey towards the ultimate human race.
Also published on Runners World - http://comrades.runnersworld.co.za/come-come-comrades-by-craig-blewett/