My 2012 Comrades experience
This year there was not much of anxiety compared to last comrades, may be, because this was my third comrades or maybe I stayed back in Durban after my last year’s comrades because of my personal commitments.
I never trained much this year compared to last two years. I only started training in the month of January. I did very few small runs in December. Only advantage I had here in Durban is the terrain here is of hills and valleys and every week end there was races. To run any race one has to have permanent licence number (member of a running club) or one has to pay temporary license fees for every race in South Africa. I have enrolled myself to Chatsworth Athletic club near to my place as International runner. If you have a permanent licence you are also insured in case if you meet with any accident while running. So I ran few full marathons and a ultra marathon representing Chatsworth Athletic club. One of the races I picked up a thigh muscles strain injury few months before the comrades and it never got a chance to cure, so I had my medicated bandage on my thigh and had to take few pain killers tablets before the race.
Every year it’s a different experience in Comrades. Even though you ran 10 comrades on your 11th race you might find it difficult to finish the race, so very important to respect the race.
This year it was down run starting from Pietermaritzburg to Durban. Down is as tough as the UP run, that’s why Comrades marathon is called as ‘ultimate human race’. What a gruelling race. Most enjoyed and suffered race.
This year there were 31 runners from India enrolled for the race out of that 22 runners ran the race and 18 runners finished the race, only 4 couldn’t finish the race. This year was one of the biggest numbers of runners entered from India, I am sure it’s going to grow bigger every year.
As usual Pietermaritzburg was very cold, as all the runners stand in their respective row just before the race start they play South African national anthem followed by motivational zulu song “ sho sho loza... , it’s nice to hear when all the runners sing. This followed by chariots of fire comrade’s theme song and blast of the cannon to mark the start of the race.
Since I was in C row it didn’t take much time for me to reach to the starting line. It would have been better if I am in F or G row, in C row runners are start of fast, when you are running with them you get carried away and tend to go in their speed & burn yourself, so it’s always better warm up slowly before getting into your comfortable pace. But most often we get carried away in the race.
As we were running the climate took its toll, it was very windy and cold unlike other years, it was very challenging to run in that windy condition. As you reach Durban weather was hot. Since last two year I have shown improvement in my timings this year I had that little pressure to better my last two years timings. May be because of that I was running little faster to cross the halfway mark, so second half I was little tired but because of my experience I could push myself without much pace difference from the first half and finish the race by better my last year’s time by half an hour. 1st Comrades - 10 hours 45 min , 2nd Comrades - 10 hours 15 min
3rd Comrades - 9 hours 45 min . I am very happy to finish each year with improvment of 30 minutes.
Next year I am planning to run with novices and all the slow runners from India , who want just to finish the race. I want to help them to reach the half way in comfortable time so that they walk run and finish the race comfortable, we are also going to have few South African Indian runners who will be running along with us and help our runners to finish race comfortable. Imagine big group of runners from India with all are wearing same India colours. It’s going to be an enjoyable & memorable experience for all the participants.
This year because of unavoidable circumstances I could not arrange for self cooking and cost saving & sharing decent accommodation and transport but for next year I am already started seeing the accommodation and transport as well as there are few South African running legends will share their running experience with our Team India before the race and take us on the route and we can also have a small run around one of the largest township of Indian migrants in Durban who all going to support us during our Comrades run.
With all you guys support and the hype we see in India in last few years for running, hopefully we can take running to the top of the sporting activities in India. Let’s all work together to achieve this target.