My Fifth Comrades Lesson

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By Lisa Nevitt

T’was the minute before Oceans and all through Cape Town,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a seagull.
Over 9 000 runners stood at the start line,
Hoping to run 56km and cross the finish line.
But up in the sky grey clouds began to clatter
And in response how sets of teeth did chatter
‘At last,’ I cried, perhaps a little too loudly,
‘Victory will be mine!’

After a season of having the energy sapped out of this British runner by boiling hot marathons, rain was the order of the ultra. Perfect if you grew up somewhere below freezing. My energy and spirit levels were high as I crested Chapman’s Peak. Gliding gracefully across a muddy finish line and ploughing straight into a Coke table, I giggled like a school girl. This was my moment.

Despite torrential rain, ultra marathoners were out in full force for the world’s most beautiful marathon. Feet squelched through duck ponds that had formed in Kalk Bay and blinded runners comically ran into each other in Noordhoek. Spectators huddled beneath umbrellas, strong pillars of encouragement. And the race was well organised; cheerful helpers, brass bands and wearers of outrageous costumes manned the refreshment stations.

If the essence of ultra distance running is overcoming the odds, this is true of the people who got me to the finish line; my running friends. One had back problems during the race, one had only just recovered from a broken toe, one had a dodgy knee, one had to start in a lower seeding group because of gastro problems during a qualifying marathon and another ran a sub five, desperate to get out of the rain. They all ran 56km.

The Lesson: Runners are resilient.

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