“I started running at the age of 27 after my father, Henke Ackermann, introduced my sister, Stephanie Smith to running. He took her for her first 5km run when she was in her early twenties.

I saw how my sister progressed and how much fun they were having while training. I slowly started to train under my father’s guidance. It was memorable and addictive! My father did his 8th Comrades Marathon in 2017 and his experience on the road has been invaluable to my sister and I.

He did his first Comrades Marathon in 1989, took a 20 year break and then ran again from 2009. In 2012, I had decided to do my first marathon (42 km). In February 2012, I ran the Buffs Marathon in East London and qualified for the Comrades Marathon.

I managed to get a substitution entry for the Comrades and was quickly on my father’s training program to do my first Comrades. It was long hours on the road, where we discussed life and everything else. It was special, the build-up and training towards the Comrades Marathon is very much a part of the actual day.

My first Comrades Marathon was a very difficult Down Run and my knees hurt but my father carefully guided, motivated and distracted me from my pain. We finished in a time of 11:44 and that moment over the finish line was priceless. This first experience with my father pushed me to where I am now training for my 6th Comrades Marathon this year. I never wanted to look back.

My sister, Stephanie started with humble beginnings under our father’s wing. He coached her and advised her on running methods, carbo-loading and pacing. Stephanie has since achieved a golden 9th position at the Comrades Marathon in 2017 with a time of 7:00:30 (while training with her one-year old in a running pram).

Our father has taught us that anything is possible if we put our minds to it and dedicate ourselves. The Comrades Marathon offers a platform where many treasured life lessons can be experienced and for this reason, it is hard not to enter this monumental event every year.

It is now a family tradition where we three (with our mother, brother and husbands) go to Durban/Pietermaritzburg and where we experience excitement, courage, a good shot of nervousness and comradeship - all in a proudly South African style.

Our father has introduced us to a very precious gift – the gift of running, for which we will always be grateful.”

This month’s winner of the Arnica Ice hamper is Harriet Knot.