Sunday, June 8, 2008

Running Comrades

In a week, over 11,000 people will line up in Durban, South Africa, at the crack of dawn to do something extraordinary: run 55 miles to Pietermaritzburg. The course wends through the Transvaal, covering the Big Five hills: Cowies, Botha's, Fields, Ichanga and the Polly Shortts. The race is renowned for the spirit of helping each other, sometimes runners literally carrying others to the finish.

Ever since I first heard of Comrades about five years ago, it's become a near obsession. Part of it is because the race is held in Africa. Part of it is the challenge seems almost unreal to me, just as the marathon itself was not something I thought I'd do. Running requires taking the long view, and I've tried to do that with my training. A couple years ago, I ran two 50k races. I found I could go beyond the marathon just so long as I reined myself in a bit. Right now, I'm focused on running a sub 3-hour marathon, but my ultimate running goal is Comrades. I know I'll do it eventually, maybe as soon as next year.

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