“My Comrades journey started around 2010 when I began talking to a South African runner, Kevin Boake (Comrades No. 49570), at my local running club in the UK. We became friends and he told me about a magical humbling race back in South Africa that every year captures the imagination of the whole nation. I loved hearing about the race and its traditions and history. I decided that I wanted to run the Comrades Marathon one day.
Each year for one reason or another I put off entering for another year. Then in June 2014, aged 49, I had a heart attack. I was taken to surgery and had 2 stents fitted into a blocked coronary artery. After the surgery I had no idea if I would ever be able to run again, but I knew that if there was one thing I wanted to do more than anything it was to run Comrades if I ever had the chance.
I went through the cardiac rehabilitation programme and remember a nurse telling us all that we needed to keep ourselves fit, “Of course none of us are going to run a marathon or anything mad like that” she said. I had a little chuckle as I thought, “If I get the chance, I am!”
I spent the next couple of years gradually getting my fitness back and after a couple of half-marathons I felt the time had come. I got myself checked over by the cardiologists who gave me a thorough check up with a full heart scan and tests. Can I run an Ultra-marathon was my only question. The answer came back that my heart was okay. My dream was still alive.
I then entered the 2018 Comrades Marathon. I trained hard for 9 months and set my sights on a Bill Rowan medal. My friend Kevin who had inspired me all those years ago, was with me as we arrived at the start line in Pietermaritzburg.
I felt a mixture of fear and excitement as the minutes counted down to the race. I couldn’t believe I was actually there. The race was everything I dreamed of and more. The crowds were amazing, the atmosphere incredible. I made memories that will last a lifetime. I ran the race of my life, everything went perfectly, and I came home in floods of tears as I picked up my Bill Rowan medal inside the 9-hour limit. It had taken almost exactly four years to get from a hospital bed to the Comrades Marathon, but I’d done it! I’ll be back in Durban in June for the Up Run, and all being well, will proudly claim my Back to Back medal.”
This month’s winner of the Arnica Ice hamper is Max Mladenovic.