It’s Comrades Eve.
Over 21 000 people go to bed tonight (most probably already with their heads to their pillows), getting much-needed rest before they tackle one of the toughest ultra-marathons on Earth.
Kevin and I are sitting here at Monkey Bay Backpackers bracing ourselves for a 3am cellphone alarm to sound so that we can cover and report on the race from an East Rander’s perspective.
While sitting here, we hear of a gentleman staying here from Edenvale Rand Road Warriors, a man who has completed 35 Comrades Marathons.
He, of course, has free entrance to the race due to his many completions.
This particular gentleman decided on Thursday to run the Comrades Marathon and quickly met up with a friend staying here at the backpackers.
He has run so many of these gruelling races, yet he still comes back, has an early night, and braces for the next big mountain to climb in his life.
And it is a montstrous mountain indeed!
We looked at a route profile graphic, displayed at the Comrades Expo at the Durban International Convention Centre this morning – this is no child’s play.
This is serious business.
There we met the backward-running Rastafarian beekeeper, Farai Chinomwe, who hits the road in reverse.
He is now going for his third backwards run.
Why does he run the Comrades (backwards, nogal!)?
He runs it for the plight of the depleting bee populations.
He runs the famous race for a cause.
Something that means a lot to him, and should to others.
Like the chap named “Spinnekop” who runs the Comrades in a full Spiderman outfit to raise awareness around congenital heart defects (CHDs) which is something important to me and my family.
The gents from Team Old Mutual Shongololo, a mix of runners from Benoni clubs, Northerns and Harriers, teaming up to get a fake worm across the finish line for a second year (a first up run).
Supposed rival clubs, aiming for a common destination.
I suppose this race could be run for many reasons.
Maybe it’s a personal goal and mental challenge to rise to, or run in memory of a friend or relative, or to get fit and take the human body to its limits.
Maybe it’s just fun for some.
Hell, I dunno, but tomorrow we will see humanity do what it can do best when a common goal is put before it.
It might be an individual effort, but there’s a huge team of supporters, family members, friends behind them as well on that long road.