Hello, and greetings from Durban, KZN South Africa. This Texan’s journey to Comrades 2017 is an epic quest for a back-to-back medal in the world’s oldest and largest ultramarathon.
It all began in March 2015 when my dad mentioned he’d like to chase a 30 year old dream and travel to South Africa to have a run at Comrades. As someone who has been inspired and motivated by him and his running my whole life, I thought I’d tag along.
Little did I know then how big a part of my life Comrades would become.
Comrades is a race that began as a living memorial to fallen South African WWI soldiers. Today it is an event that lifts the human spirit and galvanizes our sense of humanity moreso than any I have ever witnessed. There is something about a moving mass of humanity from all races and corners of the globe that sparked my imagination and captured my heart.
The 2016 Down Run was one of the most significant days of my life. From battling crippling pre-race anxiety to sharing the journey with my dad and our global running compatriots to assessing the event after the finish, Comrades 2016 is a day that remains vibrant in my memory.
For several months, I was uncertain whether I would return for my back-to-back. Undertaking Comrades is a significant financial and time investment.
Ultimately, I knew that if I did not give my back-to-back a try, I’d regret it.
Thankfully, my husband is an understanding, patient, and supportive guy. He could see that I was determined to return. He also knew that, given the significance of the event to me, we should entertain bringing our kids along for Comrades 2017. Travelling with three kids (6, almost 11, and 13.5) isn’t too bad– they’re well-traveled and are mostly really good kids. But we’ve never tried the two-overnight-flights-in-a-row thing with them before. Perhaps running for 87+ kilometers will be the easy part!
The truth is, I fell in love with Comrades, South Africa, and South Africans. I want my kids to see this place– this place so vastly different than anywhere they’ve been before– and realize the tremendous commonalities we have with the South African people. We’ve spent the last few months studying South African history and trying to recognize the similarities between our countries and our people.
For me, the appeal of running has always been about democracy. It is a sport that allows all people to be on a level playing field. We regular people compete with the elites on the same course on the same day in the same event. What could be more compelling?!
This Texan’s journey to Comrades will likely be complete after the 2017 race. It’s been a tremendous pleasure to work for something that unites me with people all over the world and inspires others.