Our love for children has expanded and our eyes are drawn to them wherever we go—in congregations, at church, in the airports, and at the grocery store. Financing mission trips to build houses for poor families in the United States. Helping churches pay salaries, utilities and other expenses. She and her husband and their seven children had gone to Idaho from North Carolina for a visit with her parents.
Running through the struggle like a golden thread was the indomitable human spirit and a capacity for self-sacrifice and discipline. The two of us strode forward slowly yet inexorably, like iron filings drawn toward the great white magnet looming directly ahead.
Every step brought us closer to our ultimate destination and the object of his desire: Moses Mabhida Stadium, its central arch rising in defiance against the afternoon sky.
Despite our conspicuous outer differences — his deep ebony skin and Old World accent vs. Eternal glory and an ice-cold soda beckoned. At that moment we were kindred spirits, brothers in arms and legsintimate associates pulling in the same direction and with the same focused fervor for the same compulsive cause.
Had it really been a year? The collective human electricity of nearly 20, tightly packed runners intermingled with the harsh electric floodlights, the latter sending the pre-dawn shadows into hiding along the back alleys of downtown Pietermaritzburg.
This, of course, is one defining feature of the Comrades Marathon: Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban The familiar face alongside me was also a welcome difference from the run. What better way to celebrate half a century on this planet than by traveling halfway across it to run 56 miles?
Having the three of them on the course armed with a beautifully detailed map courtesy of time Comrades finisher Rory — another Antarctica pal and our excellent host for Comrades — gave me a huge sense of confidence.
Talk about strength in numbers. The days in Durban leading up to Comrades are just packed Another notable distinction from the race was my nerves, or more accurately my unnerving lack of nerves. Sure, a lot of unknowns lay ahead on the 90 km journey to Durban, and for that the butterflies in my stomach were up to the challenge.
But this time they all seemed to be flying in formation, rather than each doing its separate thing — the moment brought to mind the 80s video game Galaga, with the enemy warships all flying in formation at the start of each new screen, compared to the ensuing swarm of every ship for himself.
And as the South African national anthem reached its conclusion, I felt relaxed and strangely at ease. Adrenaline flooded my bloodstream. The decisive crack of a gunshot followed and with that, every one of the 19, starters assembled outside Pietermaritzburg City Hall — from the eventual champions in Corral A to the final finishers in Corral H — was at the mercy of the ticking clock.
Because no matter our corral seeding or how long it would take us to cross under the official red START arch, we would have exactly 12 hours from the moment of that opening gunshot to cross the finish line in Moses Mabhida Stadium some 90 km away.
Even my palate had hurt the next day. In other words, what goes up must come down. Several local charities had set up tables to raise awareness, and we sought out the Ethembeni School for physically disabled and visually impaired children — the school itself is located near the 37 km mark of the down run — to make a donation.
In one corner of the exhibition centre we purchased tickets for the Sunday shuttle to Pietermaritzburg, while in another a convenient food court boasted a diverse selection of lunch fare. I could only imagine how claustrophobic this hall would feel come Saturday.
The earlier you can hit the pre-race expo, the better — things start to get very busy on Friday afternoon. Benny was clearly eager to embrace the opportunity and put his best foot forward; at the same time, he harbored no allusions as to the challenge ahead.
Breaking bread with Comrades first-timer Benny left and his wife Monica third from left Because that, in a nutshell, is what Comrades does to your brain — like your favorite childhood memory, it takes hold and never lets go.
As usual, the highlight of the reception was 9-time Comrades champ Bruce Fordyce with his waggish energy and bottomless quiver of amusing anecdotes. Durban North Beach parkrun clockwise from top left: After a semi-normal breakfast as normal as 2:The Elephant Vanishes Haruki Murakami – Analysis.
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