Tag Archives: Comrades Marathon

Never Quit

Winston Churchill was such a wise old goat. He inspired so many and he still inspires me today.

My Comrades history must look pretty shocking to those runners that cruise the distance every year in under 12 hours – four DNF and four DNS. DNS means failure to qualify and DNF means failure to finish in time. I’ve been close – 80km on my two down runs, 60km on my first up run where I panicked and quit. Plain stupidity and inexperience. 75km on my second up run because I knew that it was physically impossible to make the timing mat at the top of Pollys at 79km.

But I ain’t bovvered and I just keep on keeping on, my eye always on that insignificantly sized medal, and my mind full of quotes from that whiskey-drinking, cigar-smoking hero.

What made me think of this is my Banting group. They inspire me as much as I want to inspire them. Some of them have been extremely successful but it has been a long road. Others still need to travel that long road to reclaim their good health. There is always some stumbling along the way and there are obstacles big and small. It reminds me of my running, especially my Comrades journey.

37 years ago I was so asthmatic that I could not walk 100 metres, let alone run. I started with walking and I walked and walked and walked. My chest got so much better so I started a bit of running. In my thirties I thought a 5 kay run was incredibly far. In my forties I eventually worked up to the half marathon. I was 50 when I did my first full marathon. Imagine if I can celebrate my 60th birthday with my first Comrades medal next year!

So my message to my Banting peeps is this – never, never, never give up! You may stumble or you may fall but you WILL get to where you are going.


Last LSD for the OG before the Big C!


Apart from slightly sore ribs from his run in with a cow, Ysterbok is looking strong one week out from his first crack at the Big C. He turned 60 last weekend so even being ready to toe that start line is no mean feat.

We ran a chilled 16 kilometres this morning in the most beautiful weather EG has to offer – crisp and clear. We trundled along to the sound of bird chatter and snorting cows – the bitches are probably snorting because they haven’t managed to completely crush the Old Goat yet!

So now it’s just a matter of ticking over for a week, keeping healthy and making endless lists – what to pack in the car, what to pack in the fuel belt, what to pack in the bag that goes to the start in Durban, what to pack in the bag that goes to the end in Pietermaritzburg. Me? I’ll be packing a hip flask of the best dry red I can find and my sense of humour!

Fast and Furious

It’s so very hard not to be jealous of all the Comrades runners as they count down the days to the Big C. Yes, I even get jealous of their taper madness. The way they cringe when someone coughs near them. The way they furiously rub their weary legs with weird smelling stuff. The way they imagine they are coming down with the Black Plague or some sort of muscle paralysis.

So when I managed this run on Sunday – “fastest long run” according to TomTom – I was really, really chuffed. Maybe by this time next year I can join in the madness!

Day four….

It’s now day four of Blogging 101 and the assignment is to picture my audience (a person or group) and write specifically for them. I usually write with runners in mind. After all, this blog originated as my musings on a long slow journey to a Comrades finish.

I’m a country runner though, as opposed to a town runner. You may wonder what the difference is. We do have roads out here, albeit dirt roads, but there are lots of other differences.

We don’t run with a club and therefore there are no time trials. No problem. What we do have is the occasional bull squeezing through a fence, making a menacing noise with his nostrils, clearly intent on showing me who’s boss. The resulting sprint would have impressed Usain Bolt. I have also had to flee from an enormous pig with an anger problem, UP A HILL! So there is no lack of encouragement to go faster.

We don’t have garages for handy pit stops either. We have to make cunning use of ditches and long grass, all the while checking for malevolent wildlife. This is excellent training for those long ultras where there is never a handy porta-loo when you want one. The townies are at a definite disadvantage here.

We also have the most fabulous scenery, unmarred by buildings or traffic. I would love to run with my camera and share a picture from every run but I really need to concentrate on getting faster and that ain’t gonna help. My current focus is “don’t walk unless death is imminent” so stopping to take pictures may detract from that!

Please indulge me while I share a few pics from country runs taken before the “don’t walk” era:









Introduction revisited


Okay, so I’ve signed up for WordPress’s Blogging 101 to see what I can learn. I love learning new stuff – I’m currently about a third of the way through a course on freelance writing for magazines – my dream job, apart from breeding sausage dogs, of course. Or maybe being a professional runner that regularly wins the Comrades Marathon.

But I digress. Our first assignment involves revisiting our original introductory post and updating it.

A lot has changed (I’m nearly two years older for a start) and so I’ll attempt to define my “Long Slow Journey” here.

The Holy Grail is still a Comrades medal and in my attempts to get faster and stronger, I have completed 15 marathons, 7 ultras and 4 attempted Comrades ranging between 60km and 82km. I have researched every method under the sun, from Maffetone to “Balls to the Wall”. I’m currently training with Mo Van Rensburg from Soul Running and am LOVING it. And there lies my next magazine writing assignment!

If a genie suddenly popped out of the lamp on my desk and gave me three wishes, they would be:

  1. An end to all animal abuse
  2. A home and food on the table for every single man,woman and child
  3. World peace (obvs)

If the genie said “Bullshit woman! These wishes are for you!” then:

  1. Long flowing blonde hair that I would put up in a pony tail and nonchalantly flick from side to side as I win races.
  2. Beautiful golden brown legs that stride effortlessly across the finish line, nothing jiggling or wobbling.
  3. The ability to cross the line in aforesaid manner (or, in some cases to cross the line at all!)

In the meantime, until my genie sees fit to out himself from my lamp, you may have gathered that I love running and will continue to do so, Comrades medal or not, for as long as I can. I’m hoping for another 30 years so that at 88 I can be the famous Galloping Granny of East Griqualand. There may be some jiggling though and I may be sporting a wig.

Sunday running at it's best...

Sunday running at it’s best…


Comrades 2015


What a Comrades!  The OG and I seconded on our KLR650.   All those that know me well,  know that I am terrified of the freeway.  I won’t drive on it – I take all the back roads even if my journey is longer.   And as a passenger I’m impossible.

Anyway there I am about to embark on a motor bike trip on said dreaded freeway.  I had no choice – the traffic congestion at Comrades has become so bad on the up run that a bike is the only way to go.

Seconding goes like this.  You agree with your runner on where and how often to meet and you carry everything they may need.  And I mean everything.  Nothing is more indecisive than a runner deep in the pain cave.  I know.  As the race progresses they don’t know what they want any more.  Simba chips, ice chips? Food, drink? Maybe a  small revolver?

Luckily we now have apps to see exactly where the runner is so that we can calculate the next stop – without the app you rely on the runner sticking to their pacing chart.

The route itself is closed to traffic so one has to go from A to B on the freeway and then take various back roads to get as close to the route as possible.

Fear of the freeway be dammed!  I had a great day. We watched the sunrise as we sped towards Gillits.  We managed to see our runner as well as others from the club several times, we ducked between trucks, rode on the grass bit in the centre of the freeway and dodged numerous traffic cops.

The highlight of my day though was being there to see our two daughters and son-in-law conquer this beast of a run.

Sean (he with no off switch or pain threshold) battled with nausea and vomiting but still managed a very solid 10:10.

Our younger daughter Steph smashed a whole 90 minutes off her previous up run, sailing in at 9:57.  Yay for Banting and the Phat Girls!

But the one that really blew my socks off was my older daughter Lauren who felt “pap” right from the beginning.  She had a mouth infection during the five days before the race plus antibiotics.  Right from the first 30 kay’s she started falling behind her pace and the race was a 12 hour battle.  At 15km to go we did some quick maths and decided that she would probably beat Polly’s but would come into the stadium 5 to 10 minutes late.  She decided to keep going and just try.  That takes immense guts after already having run upwards of 70 km.  I know because I’ve faced the same situation twice – and each time I’ve bailed.  When I saw her come around the corner at the finish with 4 minutes to spare I was delirious with excitement.  They probably heard me scream in Camperdown.   That was true vasbyt – I salute you Lols!