Beating Bruce

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By Craig Blewett

The start was dark, but the tension was palpable as we stood waiting for the gun that would herald the start of our 56km Two Oceans race. The gun sounded…and we stood, and stood, and stood…before breaking into a slow walk, shuffle, walk, shuffle, jog, and finally run. 9,000 runners were off on the most “world’s most beautiful marathon”.

As the early part of the race winds through small towns lined with shops, we developed the pavement dash. Darting off the clogged road we’d fly down the pavements – even getting in a chance to do some early morning window-shopping. Yet, before too long the twisting snake of humanity began to stretch out and the race was on. It was just before reaching Muizenberg that we spotted him – unmistakable in his poise, professional and easy style, and surrounded by other greats.

The king of Comrades, Bruce Fordyce was just ahead of us. This was our chance. Throwing caution to the wind we increased our pace and came “flying” past him. What euphoria – we’d passed the legend himself. But of course Bruce would not be so easily overcome, and a few minutes later- obviously trying to break us with an early surge – he came past us once again. Yet, we were not to be beaten. This was our day, and once more we drew from deep within, and surged past Bruce again. This time it would be final…as we clang to our precarious lead over peak and through bays till with joy we crossed the line to claim our place in the halls of fame!

OK…so maybe it was not quite like that. When we first passed Bruce he was nonchalantly chatting to the great Noel Stamper – another legend who has completed 41 Two Oceans marathons. I also overheard someone saying Bruce had run a marathon the week before in like 57 minutes or something. And of course, I never mentioned to Bruce that there was a race. And maybe Bruce was aiming for a blue medal to complete his collection. And on I could go. But this is the amazing thing with running. Ordinary people can run with legends. Ordinary people can participate in an event with people like Bruce and Noel. Ordinary people can be in the same race as the super athletes who win the event in mind-blowing times.

Ordinary people can be Heroes.

As we lumbered slowly up the energy and soul-draining Constantia Nek we came up behind a runner with 75 pinned to his shirt! That means he is 75 years old, or more! Unbelievable, so inspiring. If only I can be like him at that age. And here we are running in the same race with him, running in the same race with legend after legend. There is no other sport that lets you experience this quite like running.

And then the moment of pure exhilaration, where words fail – as roads thick with cheering supporters scream, and sing, and shout out your name as we approach the finish. The flood of music, the commentators voice, the television cameras, the rising crescendo of cheering fans, as we run down the final stretch to the finish line. It is an Olympic stadium in everyway. Punching the air in achievement, we leap across the finish line, and with bursting hearts, face-splitting smiles, we receive our medals. Wow, we’ve done it. We’ve run with legends and felt like heroes. We’re Ordinary Heroes…and there is no better feeling!

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