Well, I have to admit it… I “quit” from the 2014 Comrades soon past the 75km mark, as I wasn’t sure I would make the final 13.5 km in time when there was just over an hour and a half to spare and I could no longer run, only walk.
I had a great first half but my wheels began coming off approaching Botha’s Hill already and by Hillcrest I was ready to call it a day. At one point I slipped and went down but was picked up by two other runners before I could find my own feet… I joined up with another guy who has also completed 10 runs but who was also having a bad day and could only walk. Eventually he went to sit down on the grass and I sat down on a guardrail. We saw the sub-11 hour “bus” (of runners) go by. But what I really love about Comrades is the motivation from runners and spectators alike who urge us on. We carried on for another 4 km or so and I found I could manage to jog down Fields Hill. My RPM ground to near zero as we went up Cowie’s Hill and we were passed by a group consisting of the 12-hour bus and my mind couldn’t deal with it… I actually went to sit down in a comfy green “director’s chair” for a few minutes – an unforgivable act for me! I soldiered onwards at the speed of a clockwork chameleon but eventually decided time would run out on me, and stopped at a physio tent. They did some tests and the results were all fine – a kind therapist drew some blood before I even realized what she was up to, but despite their ministrations, which made me feel much better, I sat with other runners to await a bus because I was daunted and I admit it…
OK so I didn’t have any Huns after me, but my mind didn’t feel up to dealing with the disappointment of not finishing in time so I gave in to the Huns in my thighs and back.
I’m actually glad I’ve had the opportunity to experience the race from the POV of someone who didn’t make it, just this once. There’s always a first time for something… One must always respect the Comrades route and cannot take it for granted!
I know without any doubt that there’s a medal waiting for me in 2015 which will be the 90th running of the great race which began in 1921. That’s why I’ve already pinned a note to my fridge door: “11 OR BUST!!!” I shall be preparing both mind and vintage body for the next assault on the tarmac between Durban and Maritzburg.
Never give up on a dream, even when it seems as distant as Proxima Centauri. Go to the drawing board, see what went wrong and make the necessary changes.
I had a thoroughly enjoyable weekend and stayed at a peaceful home deep in the countryside, not very far from the Comrades halfway mark. The three nights spent upstairs under rustic thatch did me a world of good, and nothing can take that experience away.
If anyone else would like to “give it a go” I would happily recommend it. After a few weeks’ rest I’ll be ready to insert my feet into my New Balances again and clock up a few thousand more kilometres…