The Uncharted Psyche

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By Thea-Mari van der Sandt

Hi all Comrades enthusiasts, my name is Thea-Mari van der Sandt.

I’m 36 years old, and this will be my first Comrades marathon, although I’ve qualified twice before, I couldn’t compete on race day. In 2003 I picked up an ITB injury and this year (2011) I had the opportunity to ride the Cape Epic, and realistically couldn’t fit in all the training that was needed to do well.

1995 I fell in love with road running. I was a first year student at Maties. Each morning myself and two of my girlfriends from res use to jog a 3km route. Although we only did it to stay sane, we used to think of ourselves as road runners! Two of the older girls in the res, who really were road runners saw the potential and encouraged us to take part in a half marathon.

I am always up for a challenge, so in my ignorance I entered my first race. I didn’t start small, the conservative way, no, I started with the Foot of Africa! In those days it was known as the hardest half and full marathon in the country! To earn a silver medal you didn’t need a time of sub 1h30, rather a time of 1h45 was good enough. I missed out on that time with 1 minute, I completed my first Foot of Africa half in 1h46. It didn’t matter, I was hooked!

I come from a mountaineering background. I basically grew up on the hiking trails of South Africa and later started climbing ice mountains all over the world. I love spending time in nature, thus it was just natural for me to become a trail runner.

Having said that, Comrades has been a dream since I was about 4 years old. My mom and I used to get up at 05:30 and organized all our snacks, blankets and hot water bottles for the day. We didn’t leave the couch until the final gun was fired to mark the end of the race.

Finally it is time to go and explore not only the famous Comrades route, but also that uncharted part of my psyche on June 3rd 2012. I can not wait!

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