MOKOPANE – After a motivational evening at Oasis Hotel on Friday, they are now more ready to take on the ups, downs and 90 km.
Before enjoying a lovely meal, motivational speaker and Chairperson of Run Zone, Graham Block, gave the anxious yet excited athletes tips on how to go about the Comrades. Treasurer of the Potties Athletics Club, Katijah Essack, handed out a tracksuit, buff and goodies to every runner. She also thanked one of the athletes’ husband, Niel Kruger, for his support during every run or practice.
This year Potties Athletics Club has three novice runners, Andrea Ferreira, Pius Gandidzanwa and Tiki Kruger Lekaowa. More experienced runners, Cecilia Ferreira, Annemari Kruger, Rudine Jansen van Nieuwenhuizen, Sarie Coetzee, Estelle Geerkens, Gert Pretorius, Aubrey Baloyi, Philbert Seabela, Johannes Molokome and Collins Bopape will also join this year to run yet another Comrades ultra-marathon on their list. They will be running 90 km from the City Hall in Pietermaritzburg to the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
Thousands of runners will kick of at 05:30 on Sunday morning.
“First of all, good luck to all of the runners who compete for various different reasons. To be able to partake in this event, you should not only be physically prepared but also mentally. Your body will get tired, but it’s your mind that keeps you motivated to keep moving. If you get tired, just keep moving. Just finish,” Block said.
He advised athletes to not drastically change their diets or eat new food the day before but to give their stomachs a rest, to keep hydrated throughout this week, to not wear clothing that they have not tried and tested as it might start irritating them while on the run and not to put sunscreen on their foreheads when running as the sweat will make it burn their eyes.
“I was a runner myself and through experience I know there can be many aspects making your run uncomfortable. When athletes feel like overheating, only drinking water will not help. You can also smear water or an ice cube on your shoulders, the back of your neck and on your wrist to help cool of from the outside.” He promised the athletes that he will be standing at one of the resting stations if they need any advice.
For the novice runners, their first ultra-marathon is not only exciting but nerve-wracking. They trained the whole year for this one moment. Andrea Ferreira said: “I am running the Comrades for my mother who recently passed away. My twin sister is also running again this year and my mother always wanted to see her two daughters run together. I am nervous but I trained hard and I am ready”.
Pius Gandidzanwa said: “I started training with the club a year ago just to lose weight but I started loving it. A while ago my knee gave me problems but I hope it will last through the Comrades. I will finish it whether it’s on my knees or in an ambulance”.
Tiki Kruger Lekaowa said: “I am shivering with excitement. I am also participating with an injured knee. I work in an office every day which means I only sit. I run to keep fit, but now I am doing my first Comrades and there is no turning back now. I will only look forward and take part in it for years to come if I am able to. I cannot wait for this big challenge”.
Essack wished the athletes all the best on the challenging but amazing journey.
“To our novices: take it all in! Your first is always the most epic and memorable one. You have done the work and now it is time to reap the benefits. Go out there, create memories and enjoy every moment. It will be tough but u can all do it,” she said.
Bosveld wishes the runners all the best.