I’m one of the 7 Jozi X DNF’s – Why did I not finish was asked by many – and it’s something I continue to ask myself – did I not train enough? I covered over 1100 km from Jan including 2 marathons and 2 ultras with no missed cut off and no DNFs – but then again there must be a reason this is called the Ultimate Human Race. Did I ever not finish a race? I’ve attempted many cycle races including Double Century, many triathlons including half and full Ironman, in running I even did the Two Oceans Ultra. I’ve never had a DNF not until the Ultimate Human Race.
The race nevertheless was an experience in itself – the atmosphere electric and vivid memories of lining up and starting – advice from all I spoke to was to start slow – and we did exactly that – first 20km went very well and comfortable but even though it was a down run the hills never stopped. I was fortunate enough to run with Zunaid Bulbulia who wasn’t feeling well on the day, so chose to run with me. I started cramping already at around 35km to 40km which had never happened in the previous marathons and ultras this to happen to me early in the race was a bit of a setback, so I slowed down and started walking a lot more. At the halfway point cramps still were coming and going, walking was easier then running. We crossed the halfway at 5h53 about 20-30min behind target and now needed to run almost even splits to complete, something I never did in any race . The only good thing was more downhills to come at least I thought it was going be good.
Around Bothas Hill about 10km after halfway still battling along the first 12hr bus of Bux Van Heerden passed and closely behind was Uncle Faisel’s bus and immediately we realized staying in there was the best chance of completing. The next 5km in Faisel’s bus was probably the easiest 5kms of my race. I forgot the cramps and pain. Shortly after 60km my family was on the road, big choice to stop for my 2yr old son waiting for his dad pretty much the whole day or carry on with possibly the best chance of completing. I chose to stop not for long but as I looked up the bus was already gone together with what must have been the best chance. Shortly after we decided to stop for Zohr prayer and potentially catch the next 12 hr bus. After stopping I felt a lot better and again started running more and walking a bit less – making the 70km cut off by a minute. Still feeling positive that I could possibly make it. When people say after 60km it’s the mind I sort of disagree because the mind is saying go and the body is sort of saying no. At approximately 75km looking at the clock we realised making the 12 hour cutoff was becoming less possible with still one stop needed for Asr prayer we decided to call it a day.
When they say Comrades changes your life I asked how can this Comrades experience change my life and when I reflected there were a lot similarities between my comrades experience and my life thus far. Comrades ultimate destination was Durban but how far away was I from my ultimate destination being Jannah (paradise) and how am I going to make sure I don’t come short in that goal.
I realised similar to comrades I identified weaknesses but didn’t do enough to address and conquer them ( excess weight and ability to climb were the major ones) – but am I doing enough to conquer my life’s weaknesses?
Another mistake – it felt easier to walk then run at times and I was in a comfort zone in life I tend to “walk” rather then “run” just because it’s easier and requires less effort.
My race also lacked a clear strategy of how to get to Durban – is my life’s strategy clear enough and will be I able to execute it efficiently.
On the whole Comrades definitely humbled me and even though I didn’t get to Durban or a medal – I have learned a lot about myself and I got to spend a good 10 hours with one of my role models, Zunaid Bulbulia.
I think now with a 3 year gap because of Comrades falling into Ramadhan (fasting month) there is enough time to go back to the drawing board and return someday to conquer this Ultimate Human Race……