Taking on Comrades for personal reasons
FOR some Comrades Marathon runners, the pain in their hearts will overcome the pain in their feet as they hit the home stretch tomorrow.
The famous ultra marathon in Durban is estimated to have an economic impact of over R600 million. It’s also expected to bring in millions for charities and organisations in need of financial support.
For veteran Comrades runner Denise Towell, her race will be in memory of her nine-yearold nephew Matthew, who died from cancer on Thursday.
An emotional Towell, who will be running her 16th Comrades, says her run will raise funds for the Rainbows and Smiles organisation, which assists children with cancer.
“Last year, when Matthew was diagnosed with cancer, I told him every step I take in the Comrades is a step for him to heal.
“He passed away on Thursday, but I will still be running for him,” she said.
Her teammate Bonni Suckling will celebrate her son Jed’s last words, “let’s make today the funnest day ever”.
Jed, 6, died from brain cancer in 2011.
“When he died, I was a couch potato, I was taking too many anti- depressants and I tried to take my own life,” Suckling said.
“When I was in hospital, I thought about Jed’s last words. I decided to live life and started running, and I just ran and ran.”
In 2014, she completed her first Ironman, followed by her first Comrades in 2015. Last year, Suckling completed an Ironman, the Comrades, and climbed Kilimanjaro, raising funds for children with cancer on each occasion.
Another parent pushing himself to the limit is Oupa Ratlhagane, whose five-year-old son Amo was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer three years ago.
It will be Ratlhagane’s 15th Comrades.
“I am dedicating this race to him. He is such a brave little guy and I want to bring him to Comrades next year,” he said.
The Comrades officially supports six charities, with 500 entries open to runners supporting a cause.