Tak­ing on Com­rades for per­sonal rea­sons

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - TANYA WATERWORTH

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.

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