One look at my training diaries and you'll see my distances increased dramatically. As they should.
However, the first week of 1986 took me to Mala Mala, a stunning game park in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, for a speaking engagement. This meant I ran fewer kilometres… but I more than made up for it the following week.
It’s important to note that speed work and long runs should never mix. Speed work is still essential. But not in long runs, where the emphasis should be on the time spent on your legs.
As I wrote that, it reminded me of a conversation I had with the runner who most deserved to win Comrades, but didn’t. Hosea (Hoss) Tjale won every major ultra in South Africa, including the Two Oceans, which I have never won. He came so very close many times. In fact, in the 1986 race he broke the incredibly difficult 5½ hour barrier, and still only finished third.
Hoss and I had a number of great battles, but I felt that the combination of my speed over the shorter distances and my hill-climbing ability gave me the one slight edge I had over Hoss. If you take my 5 or 8 km times, they were always a little bit quicker than his.
However, if you were to speak to Hoss, a nickname we gave him based on a character in the old TV-series Bonanza, he’d probably argue that the difference between us was that he started cramping with 10 kilometres to go and my cramping only started at 5 kilometres to go.
Cramping is one of the most worrying issues for Comrades Marathon runners, and it’s something I will definitely discuss later in my diaries.
Image of Bruce Fordyce and Hosea Tjale used with the kind permission of Tom Cottrell.