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More than just a road race

If Comrades was just another long road race,  an “up”, a “down”, and a silver medal would be enough for an ordinary runner like me.

But Comrades is much more. Partly because of what I do with it, sure. You seem I’m a magician. I make it big, rich, fulfilling, especially if I can finish in time. But I couldn’t do that without what Comrades is. So I go back. If I skip a couple because I want to do something else or can’t that year,  it’s ok.

A part of me is always a Comrade. Even when I can’t. I’ll be there. Part of the story of me is out on that road.

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After the 2013 run

I’m still full of Comrades.

I got my medal, a couple of pints of drip afterwards and all the goodness that Comrades gives.

Plus I had the week after the run in the Durban area winter sun, with my supportive family. Their time after my time.

The best thing was that I could walk freely even the day after the run, unlike its been sometimes. That allow me to get the most of playing with the, time with friends and family, soak up the mild sun and the Comrades afterglow, get sand in my toes.

The next challenge is to ease back into everyday life, keeping the Comrades glow. I know how to do that. Its not hard. I’ve practiced that too. So I don’t let Comrades go. This recovery, that after party, learning from this years run, glancing at next year’s run all help to make it one.

Then too there’s lot to think about remember, capture, explore from the 2012 Comrades experience.

More on that to come.

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Pilgrimage

The journey to the start

The journey to the start of Comrades is part of  its richness. A pilgrimage, a journey to a place where something special happens so that we too get some of what makes it special.

Mine starts tomorrow early, the long drive by car from Cape Town to Durban. There is a practical reason for it, but the journey to the start is part of my Comrades glow.

So is Van Morrison swirling through clear, chilled-cold Karoo starlight,  as I stop to stretch, shiver and marvel, family asleep in the car.

The slowness and effort of the journey allows my mind, me, to deepen its engagement with what’s to come; to take the focus that has driven my training ever closer to the place where its goal will be realised. Different to flying there, so quickly disjointed from home

Behind us will stretch the sparkling connection to home.

And I see the glitter-trails left by other runners making the same journey.

Some of us will meet at a petrol station along the way, creak out the driving seat in tracksuit bottoms, connect, nod, know.

 

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2013 Comrades – Not yet

I don’t want to run Comrades yet. More of this taper-happiness in my legs first. And I want that long trip up to KZN all sparking with hope and fear. And I want to stand in the Expo and feel the buzz. After  that, the last meal and a bit of sleep,  I’ll be ready for that long road.

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1935 Comrades Marathon humour

 “As one would expect in an atmosphere charge with common suffering and endeavour, there is a lot of spontaneous, unconscious humour of the type that the written record cannot adequately capture. One pictures the exhausted 1935 athlete lying on the roadside on Alverstone Hill with his legs stretched up the bank for greater relief.”  

A motorbike came racing around the corner. There was to be a bike race the next weekend on the same route. It nearly hit the nearly upside down runner.

The writer remembers how the athlete “promptly forgot his weariness and ran off as hard as he could”.  

(Story from The Comrades Story, Morris Alexander)

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That medal

That Comrades Marathon Medal

Even before my old shoe-box was full of medals for doing runs between 10 to 160 km, they had kind of lost their value.

Not the running, the medals.

At best I could see myself old, one had holding a rattling teacup, the other hand in the medal box lingering in the residue of running.

The story of me

The story of me

 

 

 

My Comrades medals aren’t in that box. When others want to see, I get them.

It’s a funny thing looking at those unassuming medals, rich with the story of me.