Daily Dispatch

High tension as Comrades Marathon looms


Eight days to the Comrades Marathon and the tension and nervous reactions among those travelling to Durban for the “Up Run” is palpable on the streets, in offices, factories and at social gatherings.

Comrades is, quite simply, in the opinion of those that run it, the most important annual race on the calendar.

So what will the final eight like?

On Sunday there will be one last “long” run. Though it indeed fills that slot on the weekly programme it should of course be anything but long. More like a 12-14km outing that pales into insignific­ance when the long run schedule is looked back upon. days feel

A gentle Monday run, a controlled and supervised stretch of the legs on Tuesday, easy 30 minutes on Wednesday, and then it is all over bar the running of the 87km to Pietermari­tzburg.

The trip to Durban is filled with expectatio­n, silence or maybe nervous chatter. The mind will quite possibly still be playing games asking “have I done enough?”

Upon arrival a quick visit to the Comrades Expo to register and maybe a brief look around should be followed by settling into the accommodat­ion and relaxing as much as possible.

As important as all the training will have been, the nutritiona­l input in the days leading up to the race is paramount.

An early night does not always beckon sleep as the nerves reach new heights of unease.

If the evening was testy, the morning is simply something that only a Comrades runner can fully relate to. It makes no matter if it is a first (slightly protected by not knowing what to expect) or a 10th run, Comrades has a way of reaching inside the soul of even the hardiest of runners.

Joining fellow runners in one’s seeding batch offers little comfort.

Many stand in silence, staring ahead or head bowed. Others simply chatter away, powered by nervous energy.

Soon enough the Durban City Hall clock will approach 5.30am and the scheduled start, but first the race will dish up more nerve-tingling moments.

Groups will be singing Shosholoza, and soon enough the theme from Chariots of Fire will burst forth from the public address system, producing serious goose bumps.

Nkosi Sikelela iAfrika will be heartily embraced and, finally, the recorded cockcrow of Max Trimborn will alert all to the imminent start pistol.

At the start the elite runners get away immediatel­y, while the last group will not move for anything up to 10 or 12 minutes.

Once the climb out of Durban is met, the nerves subside for the runners and are transferre­d directly to coaches, families and the organisati­on.

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