Comrades marathon : The journey

We interviewed 3 runners who braved the weather, the up hills and the distance to finish the Comrades Ultra 2011. Here’s what they had to say :

Jacob Boopalan

Q. Describe how you went about training for Comrades 2011?

A. My training consisted of somewhere from 50 miles to 80 miles a week.  It was tough running in the heat in Chennai, so I had to get up around 3:30-4 am to start my running, sometimes late in the evening. This immensely helped in South Africa where the weather was much cooler and I was able to finish the race without any serious injuries.

Q. How did you stay motivated through your training?

A. I wanted to run comrades marathon since I started running marathons in 2002.  When I signed up for the race this year, there was no turning back: I knew I would realize my goal.There is always a lot of support from my family and friends who keep checking up on me to make sure I am training hard enough for the race.  Of course, my coach who checks on me each morning to make sure I have done my runs.

Q. Give us some insights on your diet during the training period.

A. I eat a lot of raw vegetables.  Often my breakfast is a bag of carrots and some orange juice.  For dinner mashed potatoes, eggs, nuts, red/brown rice and a little chicken now and then. 

Q. For the benefit of Comrades aspirants, could you tell us the total expenditure incurred for the entire trip (Registration + Travel + Accommodation).

A. Registration:  180 USD

Flight:  Rs. 43,000 (stops over in Nairobi), if direct to SA Rs. 30,000.

Accommodation:  700 – 6000 ZAR, this depends whether you stay at a youth hostel or a fancy hotel.

Q. Describe your d-day experience. What did it feel like to be at the start line of the world’s toughest foot race?

A. On the race day morning, I got to the start line around 4:30.  I chatted with the runners near me and everyone seemed to have run comrades at-least 3 times before.  Some offered advice saying that I should slow down up the hills and conserve energy.  I was really hyped up seeing all the runners and the songs that some people were singing in their local dialect. It was amazing to see people from all backgrounds coming together to run the race. 

Q. What were the thoughts that crossed your mind when you crossed the finish line?

A. Of course, my first thought was ‘I am hungry, hope they have some food!’Just after halfway mark, I told myself I would never run this race again.  But at the end, all I could say to myself was, I am coming back next year.  This was so much fun. 

Q. Your advice to Comrades 2012 aspirants?

A. Before running Comrades, one should’ve run 100 kms in 12 hours atleast once.  Any long distance running is more of a psychological feat than physical. Comrades marathon is so psychological, as soon as you see the first uphill you would want to give up.  But if you push through the first few hills, you will see anything is achievable with all the amazing support from fellow runners and spectators. 

Though it is a downhill run next year, there are some uphills too.  Runners should do some up-hill running to prepare for that.

Abhijit Shome

Q. Describe how you went about training for Comrades 2011?

A. I did most of the training in Dubai which I must tell you has a great running community and people from different countries train together, running in groups. My training for Comrades included

  • Doing Yoga every morning, which is one of the best exercises for both mind and body.
  • Interval training on running tracks once a week.
  • Long Runs on weekends which should not be missed if you are preparing for Ultra Marathons or Marathons.
  • Hill Training – Two Bridges (Business Bay + Garhoud Bridge) Run 10 K on Saturday / Wadi Run on Full moon night.
  • Cross training on other days which included 1 hour of Swimming/Cycling.

Q. How did you stay motivated through your training?

A. Definitely you need to stay motivated for a 90 KM uphill run. For me, I get motivation from people closest to me. I shared my ambition with my mother and close running friends. It was great to see my dear ones getting involved and encouraging me throughout my training. I never had to look back and I got a lot of inner strength to complete Comrades.

Another motivation factor was my successful completion of 92 KM (12 hours) fundraising  Aloft Run for children at Abu Dhabi, 72 KM (9hrs :35)Wadi Bih run and 72 Km in 9hrs :35 Mins from sea level to 2200 ft Hajer Mountains in Oman to reinforce my mental preparedness.

Q. Give us some insights on your diet during the training period.

A.

  • Breakfast    – Almonds / Sandwich
  • Lunch          – Indian meal
  • Dinner        – Fish / Omlette / Milk / Fruits

Q. For the benefit of Comrades aspirants, could you tell us the total expenditure incurred for the entire trip (Registration + Travel + Accommodation).

A.

Travel –  1,00,000

Registration –  10,000

Accommodation – 15,000

Q. Describe your d-day experience. What did it feel like to be at the start line of the world’s toughest foot race?

A. It was a splendid experience and I remember each and every moment of the race. The night before I was very excited about the race of my life and couldn’t sleep beyond  12AM.  I, with no doubts in my mind, was mentally prepared to complete the race next day. At the start line in Durban the enthusiasm of more than 19,000 runners was mesmerizing and I could gather a lot of strength looking at cheerful, excited and motivated fellow runners.

Shosholoza and National Anthem were sung, followed by the gun fire and the camaraderie began their steady march. Running up the hill along with 19000 runners, I was enjoying cool breeze and cheering of different communities along the way. At one of the aid stations I collected pink roses and offered my bit to the wall of honor, saluting the comrade’s winners from the past. I was running quite steadily until midway, when I injured my left knee on my downhill sprint. I had to stop at the next aid station for getting my knee strapped. Now was the time when I felt it even more difficult to run downhill with strapped knees and sharp pain. It required a strong will on my part and I fought against all the odds pushing myself more while running uphill. From  65 K mark onward ,  I stuck to the 11 hr bus lead by  Tabohe that helped me to overcome last steep hill, the dreaded Polyshorts at ease . Running the race of my life with 2 kms left to the finish line, I started pacing and soon was inside the Oval stadium which was full of cheering crowd. It was an awesome spectacle and I sprinted in the end to cross the finish line in testing 10 hours and 51 minutes.  Truly I must say, completing Comrades was a life time experience and I felt elated and like a champion.

Q. What were the thoughts that crossed your mind when you crossed the finish line.?

My eyes were moistened, realizing that my dreams have come true. I wished my late mother who was my inspiration should have been there, seeing her son complete the Comrades. I looked up and dedicated my Bronze medal to her. I headed for international tent and met fellow runners and felt euphoric. I engulfed myself with joy. 

Q. Your advice to Comrades 2012 aspirants?

Downhill training and knee strengthening and be positive through the training and  the race day.

Sunil Chainani  

Q. Describe how you went about training for Comrades 2012?

A.  Longruns/speedruns – several hill runs – took the advice of experienced comrades runners -2 longest training runs were Mumbai marathon and Delhi 50 K – did many runs at Nandi Hills ; also practiced hill runs and walking on the tread mill.

Q. How did you stay motivated through your training?

A. Had a great training buddy – Manoj Bhat – owe him a lot for the fact that I survived – this helped – also stayed in touch with experienced Comrades runners – best advice I got was to keep moving and never stop….

Q. Give us some insights on your diet during the training period.

A. Nothing specific except for pasta in last week

Q. For the benefit of Comrades aspirants, could you tell us the total expenditure incurred for the entire trip (Registration + Travel + Accommodation).

A. Regn – 180 USD, Chip 12 USD, airfare – about Rs 50K – hotels vary depending on your choice. What is expensive is local transport in S.Africa.

Q. Describe your d-day experience. What did it feel like to be at the start line of the world’s toughest foot race?

A. Nervous and scared and excited!! Also went there determined to give it my best shot and be sensible….

Q. What were the thoughts that crossed your mind when you crossed the finish line?

A. Just done it in-spite of the cramps and bloody toe nails….and I know I can do it better!!

Q. Your advice to Comrades 2012 aspirants?

A. If you set your mind to it,you can do it…..but need to train hard and be sensible….

Pin It

You may also like...