Posted: 14/11/2014 at 08:01
Food and drink
I took some date and nut balls, a small bottle of Perpeteum and some Shotbloks. I'm glad I did, because although there was lots of food on the course, it didn't really start until about mile 15. After that all I wanted was sweet stuff - I mostly survived on Coke, sports drinks and bananas, plus a few potatoes. And water. Lots of water. I reckon I drank at least 6 litres, plus the other liquids. I thought I was drinking enough in the first half, but a trip to the portaloos suggested I wasn't, so I upped the quantities from then on. I also used electrolyte capsules, about 1 an hour.
A feature of Comrades is that there's lots of information on your race number (which you wear front and back). Your name, the number of times you've run and whether you're an international runner. So people chat to you - and you know that anyone with a green number (10 or more finishes) knows what they're doing. Near the start I was quite surprised by the guy who said to me 'you are a good runner. You are going to finish'. But that kind of thing went on all the way round. There was loads of banter. Possibly my favourite was the South African trying to explain the rules of cricket to an American, much to the amusement of a bunch of Aussies. The spectators were great too. At one point I missed an official water stop, so I went up to a running club table and asked if they could spare some. They not only gave me water, but some ice to put in my hat, which was great. My favourite sign was 'I am a tiny potato, and I have faith in you'. My favourite spectator was the lady who had clearly had a few beers but wasn't going to let that stop her ('you are all so sexy!' 'Nice rack!' - even though we all looked like roadkill by that stage).
The man running in a rhino suit. The woman dressed as a fairy, complete with wings, who kept overtaking me. The woman with a pace band round her ankle (?). The man with a penguin on his head (me - 'am I hallucinating?' Reply - 'no, after you run 10 a penguin grows out of your head'). The people running barefoot. The piper playing, in the dark, in the first mile.
By the time I reached Durban proper I knew I could walk the last few miles if I had to, but it was actually harder to walk than run, so I tried to run as much as I could. The atmosphere kept building as we got closer to the stadium and the crowds got bigger. I ran the whole of the last km, as I dawned on me that I really was going to finish. I will never, ever forget entering that stadium. It was getting dark, and the floodlights were on. The stadium was packed, and the crowd was deafening. I felt like they were cheering just for me, and lots of them were shouting my name as I came round the final bend. From somewhere I summoned up a sprint finish, and then a massive wave of adrenaline, and relief, hit me as I crossed the finish line in 11:23:50.
Dannirr was just a few minutes behind me, and I think we were both a bit stunned that we'd done it. We stayed to watch the cutoff. One man collapsed just short of the finish line, and started to crawl. Two people picked him up, and he staggered in just in time. Then at 12 hours exactly, the race official, with his back to the runners, fired the gun and it was all over.
It's a tiny medal, but it's the biggest one I have.