It has been billed by many as the ultimate single-day running challenge, bar none. Yours truly couldn’t agree more after a firsthand humbling experience of running the 89km Comrades Marathon last Sunday. You have got to reach far and wide to find a race that can provide such a spectacle of the invincible power of the human spirit.
In preparation for the race, I had put in the hard yards once I comfortably completed a 60KM up and down run of the infamous fluorspar run, four weeks out to race day. However, nothing can prepare you well enough for a 90km run and as D-day approached, there was some sense of apprehension of perhaps being too ambitious in entering this race in the backdrop of my maiden ultra-marathon (Two Oceans Marathon), barely 2 months earlier.
It’s a rare occasion for me to be speechless after an international running event but yes, the Two Oceans Marathon that went down last Saturday in the “Mother City” left me speechless! I have been privileged to participate in a good number of running events around the world and truth be told, I don’t think there is any sugarcoating in saying that Two Oceans Ultra Marathon is the world’s most beautiful marathon.
From the jaw-dropping beauty of the course, the world class event organization, near perfect weather condition, to the amazing support all through the 56km stretch, it took me time for it to finally sink in that I am still in Africa over the race weekend.
Ahem! Officer on deck! As you were…. I have always admired the brave men and women in uniforms. But for my dad’s objection, I came so close to joining the air force while still a young lad. How pleasing then to acquire a new nickname; “Major” from my peeps after finally completing the six races of the World Marathon Majors in Boston.
Boston was a very emotional run for me being my last race of the Majors series. The experience was literally the same as sitting for the final paper in high school. Indeed there is only one Boston and despite the awful weather conditions, I pulled out all the stops to make a big exit, crossing the finish line in Boylston Street in 02.49.33.
It was bound to happen, but never thought it would be this soon. That rare occasion when the stars align and the gods smile down on you. That was Tokyo for me.
Though I tried to maintain my training intensity over the laid-back festive period after my last major race in Berlin, the odds were stacked against a new personal best considering the slow course that is Tokyo marathon, in addition to the rightly predicted lousy weather on D-day.
Folks, it had to be Berlin. After all, this is where world records are broken and as one went down on the very day, how fitting that I also outdid myself cruising home at an official time of 2.56.43, a personal best.
Guys’, running a sub 3hrs marathon is the pinnacle of running achievement for most recreational runners and one would be hard pressed to find a more grandiose road race than Berlin to accomplish such a feat.
For folks like me with no natural talent or gait for running, a sub 3hrs marathon is really hard to accomplish, the holy grail of amateur running if you like. One has to be dedicated to a pretty all-encompassing training plan, literally training with same dedication as Wilson kipsang, but aside from the number 2 leading off your result time, there is no reward in waiting and yours is only a personal vendetta against the clock.
In many ways, this was one hell of a weekend that no doubt lived out the hype that goes with the London Marathon. Let’s start from the beginning. On what would have been my last taper run before boarding the plane to London, I sprained my ankle pretty bad about 100m from my doorstep. All I could think as I limped off to my humble aboard was that Jael must have passed her bad omen to me and indeed bad things happen to good people! With almost a perfect preparation, I was so gutted to get an injury last minute.
I wrap up my road races this year in New York in 3hrs 13mins 41secs. Indeed it has been a colourful running year for me and couldn’t have asked for more. Coming in the backdrop of a personal best in Chicago marathon 3 weeks ago, New York marathon was always going to be a big gamble and I am over the moon to have finished in a decent time without an injury. But boy, my body is hurting!
Finally, I get my ticket to Boston crossing the tape in Chicago in 3hrs 6min. It was a perfect day for running and what an awesome crowd!
One year ago I ran my first marathon in Lewa in 3hrs 41min which was a very painful experience; I promised myself I would never run a marathon again. Then I met the Swaras and running became a lifestyle with unlimited possibilities.
As others look forward to the golf course over the weekend, I am always excited about the new trails that the Swaras keep unleashing. Thanks Swaras for everything, couldn’t have done this without your support. Chairman, I owe you big time, no doubt the Flourspar run did the magic for me.
Trust me, if you ever think of running in Europe, then Paris should definitely be among your top list destinations. With 38,690 runners finishing the race this year, it becomes the second biggest marathon in marathon history only behind New York’s record of 46,759 in 2011. My recent experience in Paris was unbelievable. Coming out of an injury that had put me out of action for almost a month, I was not on top of my game but managed to run a PB simply because of the awesome atmosphere of running in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.