A tribute to the late Richard Monisi: SA’s blind veteran Comrades runner.
Tragically, blind veteran Comrades runner Richard
Monisi was killed in a hitand-run accident on Saturday 10 June. This is a heartfelt tribute to a brave, humble and inspiring man, written by those who knew him best.
Andrew Hall, Monisi’s guide at Comrades 2017
At the end of 2016, I was asked to run my first Comrades with a blind runner, called Richard Monisi.
I had met Richard before, when he finished his 12th Comrades in 2016. His guide had got him to 10km, and then he had run the remaining 80km alone, armed only with his stick, 5% sight, and a whole lot of heart.
My training was sporadic. The night before our race, I had a hard time convincing myself that I had done enough. But then I reminded myself that I had pledged to run it for more than just me: I needed to be someone else’s ‘eyes’.
Richard and I had spent many months sharing voice notes and messages of encouragement. It was a pity we never got to go on a training run together – we had the best of intentions, but work and life always seemed to get in the way.
But despite the fact that we lined up at the start of the Comrades as an untried partnership, the 87 kilometres that followed will go down as one of the best experiences I’ve ever had competing in an endurance race.
Richard and I found our groove instantly – it was as though I’d been doing this piloting thing for years. He set the pace during the first half, and I set it in the second. Hills were broken into what he liked to call “baby steps”.
( He also told me he had a strict nowalking policy – which scared the life out of me. Luckily, we did plenty of walking during the latter stages of the race!)
Everyone knew Richard
The participants we ran alongside were eager to help at water tables, and some even wanted to help me pilot Richard. “Monisi!” the crowd cheered – and that acted as a tonic on the long and winding climbs.
On quiet stretches of the route, Richard revealed more about himself, and the amazing feats of bravery he’d accomplished on the journey to his 13th Comrades. He came from a world that I could barely comprehend; we had lived in different universes. And yet, through running, we were so in tune.
The man also had a sense of humour. After we’d tackled one of the first major hills, I became more
News, Trends, and Regular Runners Doing Amazing Things
RIGHT: The running community heroworshipped Monisi, because he represented every South African who has to face adversity.