Clivehaddow's Blog


Part 1 -Stuart’s story – Comrades marathon 2010

“One needs to remember that this is a story with a message. I hope that people will read this and think, yes, they too can achieve or overcome an obstacle. I hope that they can read this and imagine, laugh and feel the agony of this event.”

 “I hope that you like it, and doesn’t get to boring”


 Spare Tyre For Sale!

Stuart with his wife Gill

 Before I get started, I need to make one thing clear. I am not an elite runner, nor even a good runner. I am an average person who decided to challenge his body and do the long run in the allocated time, and get my monies worth out of the day. This is where the true spirit of Comrades comes in. The bondage and friendships that are formed over agonizing moments are forever in your memories. They say that you forget the good times, but always remember the hard times. Well, this is a good hard time. Some never want to experience it again, and then there are others that get hooked.

It first started a number of years ago. I have never been a good sportsperson. Yes, I participated and did sport, but alas my ball skills left a lot to be desired. I therefore tended to the non ball sports, but never took anything seriously.

Going back a few years, I turned 40 and found that my chest had slipped south. The scale continuously lied to me. In fact I think the mirror and scale were colluding against me. In my mind, I was still that young, virile person. Unfortunately reality set in when Gill (my wife) suggested that I start going to gym.

With much grumbling and embarrassment, I joined the local gym. It was great. I lost weight, developed muscles, but there was something missing. I started to go to the gym spinning class and really enjoyed it. I left behind a pool of sweat and a few grams lighter, and maybe slightly deafer from the loud music. But, I was a sucker for punishment, and went back again and again. Stephan the instructor either felt pity for me or wanted me out of his class, and suggested that I start jogging. He challenged me to come to Regents, a local running group in Durban North. Now; never challenge me to something, because I will go out of my way to achieve it. It becomes an obsession.

So, a new chapter of my life started. At first I couldn’t even run 2km, but slowly managed 5 then 7 and eventually the 10km. I initially started off running with Regents once a week, but once I saw the benefits and got fitter, started twice a week. In the beginning, I was always at the back of the group. I was so proud of myself for managing a full 10km without stopping. Slowly the weight and body shape was changing. I could look at myself in the mirror again. I had broken that relationship between the mirror and scale. They were not going to get the better of me.

  The Challenge

It was during 2009 that the build up to the 2010 Soccer World cup and Comrades 85th run started. Due to the world cup, the organizers had decided to increase the field to allow more overseas competitors to participate. They decided that they would allow 15000 experienced runners to register in 1 Sept 2009 and a further 5000 novices from the 1 October 2009. This was a huge field. Not only was it the 85th Comrades, but also a double down run. Never had this happened before.

Stuart with son Gareth and daughter Kerry

So the build up to the greatest human race began. The 89km race from Pietermaritzburg to Durban was set for the 30 May 2010. Up to this stage I had always marveled and admired the runners, never thinking that I would one day be able to do the same. The weekly run and social now focused on the upcoming race. The experienced runners were registering and getting their training programmes in progress. I would jog along  with all this banter going on in my ears. This one was doing this and that one did this time last year etc etc. The pressure became unbearable, and eventually I secretly buckled. The day came for the Novice registration and my intention was to go after work to register. Mid afternoon I downloaded my emails, only to find a notice that the Novice registration was closed. They had opened that morning and had got their 5000 entrants by lunch time. Was I happy or sad, I don’t know. Relieved that I now had an excuse not to do it, the idea played on my mind. Dammit, this is not fair. I was bombed out of the water before I had even started. No ways was I going to let this happen. I rushed to the local Postoffice with a few minutes to spare before closing time and managed to get my registration papers off via registered post (they would still allow postal entries that had been postmarked that day or before). I made sure that the clerk stamped the envelope and put it in the outgoing bag. Phew, ok now we wait and see. The second hurdle would be to tell my wife. Not too sure which I was more scared of, getting the confirmation or Gill.

It took a few days to pluck up the courage and tell Gill what I had done. By this time I had started to get serious about my training. I now had to put in serious effort and get my butt out on the road and get some mileage on those feet. Now, this may not seem hard for many people, but a 43 year old, 95kg, 6.1ft male this represented a challenge. I started doing an extra run, but all the while waiting with baited breath to hear if my registration had gone through. Was all this training all for nothing?  Eventually I saw that my check had been cashed, and I knew there was no turning back.

Registration had been unofficially confirmed.



August 15, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Good boy!!!

    Comment by Hildegard + Willy | August 15, 2010 | Reply

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