I joined Randburg Harriers last year when I decided I was going to run The Comrades Marathon. I never actually knew anything about any of the clubs, or actually anything about running at all at that stage. But, one of the first things I was told was that to run comrades you had to be apart of a club. We did all our training at Randburg Harriers and I actually never knew any other clubs so I just joined Randburg Harriers. Obviously joining a club didn’t need to be done so quickly, I could have actually taken my time and researched some of the other clubs first, but I became a running snob pretty much over night. I mean, flip, I was training for The Comrades Marathon, how much more pro do you get – of course at this stage all had run was two 10km races and one 21km race. The 21km race I need to tell you a bit about.
The night before the race I put the race location into my GPS and it turned out the race was exactly 21km from my house. I thought this was absolutely ideal, now I can drive the distance and sort of get an idea of what the race is all about. The drive went quick of course, and the hills weren’t bad, my car got up them with out me having to change gear I would be fine. Of course this wasn’t the same route we were going to run, and well, a car and my legs are two very different things, but hey, I was off to run a 21km so that I could run The Comrades Marathon, nothing was going to be too tough for me! I ran and I ran and I ran. I eventually started to think I must have run about as far as my car had taken me this morning and with a big smile on my face and a bounce in my step I asked the guy nest to me, who had a Garmin on, how far we had run. 7km. We had run 7km. I was thinking more like 20km. Its easy to have a bounce in your step when you think you only have 1km left to go. Realising you not even half way yet it a bit of a different story. My walk breaks became longer and my running stages became a lot longer. And then a walker came along! There was no way I was going to let a walker beat me. So I took off. It was a slight down hill and off I went, and when I got to the uphill I thought I could walk again. I was in the lead now and if we are both walking how can she beat me. I wasn’t even half way up the hill when the walker pretty much flew past me. That wasn’t acceptable! So I ran the rest of the way up the hill and passed her. After a while it became a bit annoying when I would catch up to her, run past her, keep running for a while and then finally decide it was safe to have a break, just to have her pass me again, so I decided to run with her. I must have run about 5km with her until she left me in the dust and at the bottom of a very steep, long hill. And then continued to walk the rest of the way to finish line. Which was just a finish line when I got there. I only just got in within the last few minutes of cut off, but the inflatable arch that was over the finish line before was already down, most of the spectators left and all the officials were packing up. I went to track the next day and walked most of the track session. I was so stiff and I felt I deserved to walk every session for the next month. I had just completed a 21km race! No one else seemed to impressed though, and Dave, my coach, didn’t seem to impressed with the whole walking thing. I was very confused.
So after joining Randburg Harriers and having only run two 10km races and really struggled through a 21km I felt like quite the pro when I stood on the start line of a race in my Randburg Harriers kit. But I did also wonder why everyone else around wasn’t wearing the same kit. Where were all these other clubs? Why hadn’t I heard of them? Why hadn’t I seen them before? I then decide to do some research. I asked around and found out which clubs all my fellow runners were part of and why they were part of those clubs. It was rather interesting – and again left me very confused. I never knew much about Randburg Harriers, or much about any of the other clubs for that matter, but even after having heard everyone else try convince me to move to their club I was glad I had joined Randburg Harriers. Oh and of course it was Randburg Harriers that got me through my first marathon – or more like a Randburg Harriers runner.
How do you run a marathon? Ok, I really don’t know the correct answer to that, but I know how I went about it. I walked around the start line before my race, picked out a few really good looking guys and chased them. Literally. One of those guys on my first marathon was a Randburg Harrier runner. The deal I made with myself was that if I finished, or more like I had to finish so that I could go to the tent and get my targets number. Of course by the time I got to the tent at the en of the race, after again just getting in before cut off, the guy I was chasing had finished hours before and was long gone. And I somehow got stuck in a chair at the tent getting fed and passed drinks.
So after not evening being part of the club for 6 months when it came time for comrades, I decided to go photograph the runners I knew and any Randburg Harrier that happened to go past me. (I had come to my senses by now and figured running comrades takes a lot more effort and a lot more training. And that you can’t walk all your track sessions for a month after running a 21km). Earlier this year when it was almost time for Easter 100, it was decided that I would photograph the runs and then later again photograph the annual Adrienne Hersch Challenge. And so I ended up photographing the comrades marathon prize giving. I think I may have actually spent the first half of the event with my jaw dropped while listening to Caroline Wostmann talk about her running journey and about her struggles on the day of this years Comrades Marathon. But I was just as inspired by everyone of the other runners who completed the race and were at the awards ceremony. These people are incredible! The club is incredible! And together they are just mind blowing, insanely incredible. I can’t wait to run the 2017 Comrades Marathon in my Randburg Harriers kit and hopefully next year I too will be able to go up and get an award. In the mean time I will be training hard, and training my new photography assistant so that they can stand on the comrades marathon side lines and be inspired while taking photos of all the Randburg Harriers runners.