03 June 2014

Comrades 2014

June 1 - Comrades  2014

As I wrote about in my previous blog this event has been on my bucket list for a very, very long time.  It lived up to all the expectations I had and more.

First a little about the idea of the “run culture” here that this event has created and the biggest part of what has fascinated me nearly my whole life.
The main question I always had was “How could so many people believe that running this super tough Ultra was something they could do???!”
  These are “average” people, not athletes. The top 1,000 or so might be considered athletes, but all the rest look and perform “averagely” except for the fact that they keep on going and complete the damn thing.  Its utterly amazing that they think they can for a start, and then that they actually do it blows my mind.
  I’ve always thought that so many average people taking on this thing proves people are capable of much, much more than we normally believe.  I knew I had to experience it to fully comprehend it.  That’s what’s drawn me to this event as a test and as a spectacle to be a part of.  I certainly experienced that first hand.  As I was reduced to a walk for the lat few hours and thousands (seemingly) jogged on past me I could see they were able to keep shuffling along while I couldn’t. Absolutely humbling and uplifting at the same time.

About the Green numbers - when you’ve run Comrades 10 times you get a Green number and that number is yours for-ever.  They won’t give that number to anyone else.  On everyone’s race numbers (mandatorily worn on front and back) it lists how many Comrades you’ve run.  The amount of Green numbers is staggering! 
For a while mid-race for a couple of hours I was running with Alan Robb who had a 40 on his number.  40!!!  He’s won the race 4 times and watching him toil away was so inspiring I was brought to tears.  How can he still be running? I wondered ……  A life spent running - that’s a large part of the running culture here.

My race goals were minimal - I just wanted the experience of taking part of the event and hopefully run most of it.

Weather forecast was predicted to be warm and it did warm up a lot - hit 28c for a few hours with a good breeze which kept me dry, not feeling sweaty. Didn’t feel awful and I thought I was on top of my liquids and fuel. 
Main thing that affected my performance was the course - It absolutely humbled me.
6,600ft. of descent adds up and by the time I hit 69km I was done.  Cramps started so I walked and waited to feel like it was safe to run again.  After about 90 minutes of walking and drinking a ton and not having to pee I figured I would just half to walk it in.
So I did!

Our names were written on our race numbers so the crowd would cheer us on by name.  Music was pumping, barbecues were humming, a million beers were going down ….. amazing atmosphere.

 I’d recommend this event to anyone who thinks they can get through the training for it and the race without permanently injuring themselves.  Its a bit early for me to rationally discern what other Ultra goals (if any) are within my reach, but taking part in this feels so deeply rewarding I’d hate to think feeling this way - which to me is specific to endurance sport challenges - is beyond my grasp.
  What I always need to work on is remembering that I like my life better when I can run.  If I were to injure myself such that I could never run again I would really hate myself.  If I were to screw up my knees such that I couldn't even ride my bike decent either then I'd probably be a f... miserable prick.

I’d like to say thanks to my friend Albert who got me to commit to this before it was too late, and from the guys at the marathontalk podcast Tom and Martin for the additional inspiration to get here. 

Satiate the Need.

Cheers, Scott

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