fawzia suliman

Fawzia Suliman

Hope you guys are not completely tired of Comrades stories. Here’s mine…
I call myself the accidental Comrades runner. Comrades was never on my bucket list. It was not something that I felt that I had to accomplish as a runner. I stumbled upon it once I became a JoziX member and the cajoling started.

Yusuf (my husband) who had been training with me for the London Marathon was the first to commit to Comrades 2016 and once he had committed I knew in my heart that I wanted to do it with him and 9 weeks before Comrades 2016 I entered the Ultimate Human Race.

London Marathon was an utterly memorable experience but its significance had faded with Comrades looming on the horizon. As we entered May, with the hard physical training behind us, I started to think about my mental preparation. What was I going to draw upon when it became really tough, when my mind and body were starting to shut down? I searched for the answer and didn’t come up with anything. I worried that I didn’t want this badly enough and that this would ultimately let me down.

The start of Comrades 2016 was everything I had imagined it would be and the sound of Chariots of Fire brought tears to my eyes. We quickly settled into a steady pace, and I ran strong alongside Yusuf and one of my dearest friends. We joined a small bus at around 20ks and we steadily and quite enjoyably made our way to Drummonds. My legs started hurting early in the race and I realised that I had to focus and not allow it to consume my race. I followed the steady pace of the bus as I saw the markers go from the 60s to the 50s and then the 40s. I took up the rear end of the bus and heard Yusuf call my name every few minutes to make sure I was still behind him. We made it to Drummonds with good memories of Polly Shorts, Umlaas and the myriad of other hills I had heard about so many times during training.

After Drummonds, we lost the bus and my friend, feeling strong carried on ahead. It was just Yusuf and I. He kept our pace up and we watched the boards move from the 40s to the 30s. It was getting harder and going up yet another hill as I held onto Yusuf’s hand the answer I had been searching for finally came to me… we would draw on each other to get through this race. When he cramped badly at 60ks we were able to work through it calmly and get back into a rhythm. I knew then that we would make it and I said a silent prayer of Thanks…

We finished the race together and it will always be a special achievement. The Comrades is a race memorable for many reasons but ultimately it is a race as much about the individual as it is about the collective. I needed the constant advice from my experienced training partners and the validation of family and friends who believed in me more than I believed in myself. I needed the support of JoziX and all the supporters who came out on the day.

Perhaps we forget how much we need the love and support of our partners to get through the Ultimate Human Race. For me that support was a physical presence next to me but for so many it is a spouse who has sacrificed their time with you, it is a wife who sacrificed her own ambitions to run to be with the children, it is the smiling face waiting for you on the side of the road with a few words of encouragement or a silent hug…

The medals we collect on Comrades day is earned as much by our partners as it is by us..

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