My great friend Derick Marcisz never ceases to remind me that his lifetime marathon personal best (p.b.) is exactly one second faster than mine. In March 1983 I ran 2 hours 17 minutes and 18 seconds at the Buffs Marathon in East London. A few months earlier Derick recorded 2 hours 17 minutes and 17 seconds at the old Transvaal Marathon Championships. He has reminded me of that one second for over 40 years.
Illustration by Daniel Yagman
“The reason you beat me in the ‘Comrades Marathon’, Bruce”, Hoseah Tjale once remarked, “Is that I start cramping with 10 kilometres to go in the race and you start cramping with 5 kilometres to go. While I’m fighting cramps in those critical few kilometres, you run away from me.”
Casting my mind back over nearly half a century of running I realise that I have very few regrets, very few moments where I think “if only”
Yes “if only I had run a little faster and been a little bolder in the 1980 Comrades marathon, I might have won the race”
But Alan Robb deserved to win that year, and I was a very young runner, and was delighted with my second-place finish that morning. And, besides, a year later I won.
Now that the dust has settled and Comrades runners all over the World are coming to terms with the idea of an August/early spring date for our beloved race let’s look at how some things are going to change, how much about Comrades will never quite be the same again and how some aspects of Comrades will always remain the same.
The most exciting news of course, is that we are going to have a Comrades marathon in which to participate, to enjoy watching, and to savour. After two years in the lockdown wilderness our beloved Comrades is back. I have a feeling that the 2022 Comrades marathon Read more “MARCH IS THE NEW JANUARY”
Sometimes bronze is the medal with the brightest lustre. Or perhaps the less gifted runners in a race are correct – the greatest reward is simply participating.
I think it was Bridgitte Hartley’s bronze medal celebration on the podium at the London 2012 Olympic Games that first had me thinking about the relative happiness and fulfilment of the three medallists who share the podium at any major championships or indeed at any sporting competition. (Bridgitte Hartley, for those who don’t know, is our much-loved sprint canoeist, whose bronze medal Read more “GOLD, SILVER, BRONZE”
I am sure that I am not alone in this wish, but when this whole Covid-19 “pandemic” nightmare is over (and hopefully that is very soon) there are some words and phrases I hope never to hear or speak again. These words include, “social- distancing”, “wear a mask”, “vaccine”, “sanitiser”, “pandemic,” “stay safe” “lockdown” “Covid protocols” “Ivermectin“ and,” for the greater good”. I hope also to see some phrases Read more “THE COMRADES CENTENARY HOPE CHALLENGE -VIRTUAL RACE”
A lesson from Space
It was May 5th 1961, and astronaut Alan Shephard had been sitting in his capsule Freedom 7 on top of a Mercury-Redstone 3 rocket for 4 hours. His mission was to become the first American in space and only the second astronaut to make this hazardous flight. (Russia’s Yuri Gagarin had beaten him to the “first man in space” honour a few weeks before.) Shephard’s mission in space was only supposed to have lasted a little over 15 minutes but several delays had led to him waiting a few hours for lift-off and also to his becoming increasingly frustrated. Several morning cups of coffee and orange juice had already resulted in Shephard having to urinate inside his spacesuit. Shephard was impatient to fly. He was the one in danger and he was ready. He took little comfort in the knowledge that every piece of his spacecraft had “been built by the lowest bidder “Nevertheless, he was prepared to fly. Several small irritating problems had led to mission control repeatedly delaying the launch. He knew mission control was ready. He was ready, and so he finally demanded “c’mon, let’s light this candle.” Read more “ARE YOU READY TO RACE!”
In Roman times a victorious general, returning from a successful battle or campaign, was often awarded a celebratory parade through the streets of Rome in front of an adoring Roman citizenry. This parade was called a Triumph and was accompanied by all sorts of pomp and ceremony. The conquering general rode a gold bedecked chariot pulled by Read more “THE MARATHON CAN ALWAYS HUMBLE YOU”
There was a bleak morning in mid -April this year when I thought my spirit could not sink any lower. It was an inky black dawn, and a watery sun was still an hour away from rising. I was circling our small garden for the umpteenth time and it had started raining. The lockdown blues were getting Read more “VARIETY AND VIRTUAL COMRADES UNDER LOCKDOWN”
“F**k you, Nobby Clark,” Bernie Liebman’s gruff voice seems to echo across the decades as I feel a slight twinge in my ankle while running Covid-19 lockdown laps of my garden. I’ve lost count of the number of laps I’ve run but my shoes are wearing a giant brown tattoo on a carpet of green lawn, and my ankle is Read more “COMRADES LOCKDOWN BLUES”