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My Comrades Journey – Nobantu Ngumbela

My comrades journey began when I was a teenage girl, during the June 16 public holidays I would watch the race and I couldn’t believe that it was humanly possible to run for a full day. After a couple of times watching the race I then started to have an interest to one day run the race. I didn’t have a timeline but I just wanted to run the race in my lifetime. At this point in my life I was not into ANY kind of sport and was a chubby teenager.

Fast forward to 13 February 2015 I went on a valentines 10km run with one of my close friends and fell in love with running. From then on I never looked back, a weekend was just never complete without a weekend run. I did my first 21k at Soweto marathon and had a near death experience 😂.

Fast forward to October 2016, I was on an audit deadline and having a bad day, I need something exciting and decided to enter Comrades, there was not much thinking or deliberating I just entered the race as I usually do with all my weekend runs 😂. I now had a challenge to look forward to and in Nobantu style I trained consistently from November until I run my first comrades 4 June 2017, I didn’t have any eating or running strategy the plan was just to run to the end which was just dumb. Having to stop running with just 5km to the end and getting a DNF tore me apart. I felt I had lost a part of me. When I entered to run the 2018 race I had much more respect for the race, I started training consistently from November 2017 the road to the 2018 Comrades was not smooth and easy like my training for 2017.

I attempted to qualify at Sasol and finished at 5:10 I tried again at township Marathon, I had Mo pacing me for the first 21 and Yasien for the 2nd 21. The first 21 went reasonably well and the 2nd one was just a disaster. At both Sasol and township my energy levels would just significantly drop between 25 to 30km of running to a point where walking was also exhausting. For some reason I would become weak. I went to a sports physician and did a couple of blood tests which where all clear. The doctor proposed that I take it easy and not run. I thought to myself that the doctor was crazy and didn’t know what he was talking about and I continued training. I had the Deloitte challenge marathon in mind but decided to keep it to myself. I privately trained for it and was delighted when I eventually qualified. Now I was back in form 💪🏿.

As I didn’t qualify on time to do Two Ocean I decided on doing the Easter 100, I enjoyed the training but I injured my knee which meant I couldn’t train as much as I wanted in April. Closer to the end of April I was not sure if I could run comrades as my knee was taking long to heal and I would run with a limp because of the pain. I would see my Chiro twice a week because I wanted to heal and early May I was completely healed and Comrades plans where back on the cards 🙌🏾🙌🏾.  I trained very well during the month looking back I think I did a little too much but I couldn’t believe how amazing it was running with no pain and feeling fit.

Fast forward to the 10th of June. I was emotionally and physically ready for the race, I knew the day was going to be long and hard, I was going to feel pain and have blisters so I must just get over that and the nervous started to settle. As I was in the H seeding it took closer to 10 minuets to cross the start line running in the dark towards Polly’s was a traffic disaster. I decided to run with the 11 hour bus for the first 15km to catch up on time. After this I paced myself as planned and meet other Jozi‘ on the road which was quite fun. Overall I was in good spirits, blisters and all until the bottom of Fieldshill. From here on I really need to dig deep as it was very painful and tough but kept on telling myself “ Nobantu this is what u expected get over it” I got to Westville and the was a guy handing out ice Lolly’s. This was the highlight of the day I had the best ice Lolly ever. I continued on a walk run strategy until the last cut off. After that I saw the time was getting tight and just decided I’m going to run to the end. With 3 km to the end I fell on a cat eye. This was probably a wake up call as I stood up and ran even faster. With 1.5km to go a guy came behind me pacing a lady I asked him to pace myself as we and he ran with us until like 800 meters to the end when I entered the stadium with less than 3 minuets to spare. When I came in the support from crowd was amazing but my eyes where fixed on the clock I sprinted so hard to the end and when I finished I couldn’t believe it. I got my medal and threw myself on the ground because of exhaustion. During the time I was lying on the ground the decision to run the up run again was made. 🙈


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