This post marks the first of my “Running Stories” series.
I’d like to introduce Russell Mackintosh – Russ ran his 10th Comrades Marathon this year – this entitles you to a permanent number and entry to the exclusive “Green Number Club”
Here are the questions I thought were important along with Russ’ answers:
How long have you been running for?
I started running to keep fit for rugby in 1985 when I was at UCT. I eventually took running up as my main sport when I gave up cricket in 1993. I ran my first marathon in 1994 (Winelands Marathon) and my first Comrades in 1996.
Out of the 10 Comrades you have done, how many were good runs?
I had one absolute “dream” run (9:05 on the up run in 2006), probably 4 more runs that were not too shabby, and the rest were in the “I’m never doing this again” bracket.
What made you decide “I think I’ll do 10 Comrades”?
When I was in std.9 I watched the Comrades on TV and saw a guy called Colin Goosen collapse on the final bend and then crawl the length of the home straight to claim the last gold medal. I decided then that I wanted to run the Comrades some day. JUST ONCE.
And I did that in 1996, and I was content. But then you go down to the club and the guys are standing around having a few beers, and eventually the talk turns to Comrades, and before you know it the trip to Durban is planned and you’re on it. I can’t believe they caught me like that . . . 9 times!!
What type of mental preparation do you do?
A couple of things: I try to develop a positive mindset by focussing on the good races I have run recently; I go over the route in my mind and try to recall how I felt at various stages on my good Comrades runs; I remind myself that bad patches are nearly always temporary; I like to drive the course before the race, because it scares the sh*t out of me and reminds me to treat the race with respect.
When do you start training and how many km’s do you do?
I start training about 6 months before the race and generally do about 1200kms in that time, although this year I did 1500km – obviously too many junk miles, because the extra 300kms had no positive effect on my performance. Ideally I like to have five runs of 42km or longer in that period, and generally peak at about 100km a week, about a month before Comrades.
What is the most important thing you have learned by doing endurance sports?
Participating in endurance sports has taught me that if I set myself a goal and work towards it, the seemingly impossible gradually becomes possible, and eventually achievable.
What does your family think about it?
I’m fortunate in that my wife has run 7 Comrades Marathons and we do a lot of our training together. It helps that your partner can relate to your mindset and emotions in the lead up to Comrades, and vice versa. I have a daughter (15) and twin boys (11) who have grown up in a running family and so don’t know any different. My daughter has been up to Comrades twice and loves the vibe on race day. Hopefully one day I’ll have the opportunity to take one (or more) of my kids through their first Comrades Marathon.