Archive for June 25, 2009

Comrades Marathon Green Number Club

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.


Trail Running Series

I’ve been talking about thinking about starting to trail run for ages and on Sunday I decided to stop talking about thinking and actually just DO

Montrail and CapeStorm have a trail running series which is coming to the Western Cape in July.  It consists of 4 runs of which you can choose to do the long (12 – 13km) or short (5-6km) routes, in different locations ranging from Durbanville Hills to Groot Constantia.

I had heard about this trail series from friends of mine and before the Comrades it was a lovely plump carrot on a stick to look forward to – with the promise of a change of scenery, some new faces and hopefully a rekindling of my motivation to run (although my lack of motivation could be due to the horrid weather we are having at the moment).

Have a look at the race details and if you are in the Cape area sign up, would be great to meet you!


Running Stories

I’ve decided to start another series, this one is called Running Stories and will involve interviews with different runners and their experience with the Comrades Marathon and other endurance races which have the potential to be life changing.

I’d like to cover categories like First time Comrades runners, Bus Drivers (Pace setters), People who have overcome insane things to go on to run the Comrades, Green Number runners (10 Comrades or more), Seconds and foreign runners who come over here to take part in this crazy race.

I’ll be making a few changes around the blog too, just to make it a bit more stream line (especially since my occupation is online marketing and specifically social media – which is embarrassing to admit given the fact that I’ve done so little on this blog), so please let me know what you think along the way.

Looking forward to interviewing some great people and sharing what I find!!


Photo Credit:  PakyuZ

Running Charity Round-Up…

It seems the final numbers are in…

All pledges were honoured and with Ryan’s efforts in Canada coupled with mine, it seems we have managed to raise about R10 860 – that’s 17 kids whose school fees will be paid up for the entire year!!

I also want to thank a few people who had a huge impact on this little endeavour of mine:

  • Everyone who was so generous and managed to spare some cash, especially since we’re all feeling rather pinched at the moment – Ryan’s friends (you know who you are), Shaun & Nicola, Ariane & Mdu, Brendan & Rebecca, Andy Duncan, Collin Budge and Russel Mackintosh (Russ was the one who said he’d double his pledge if I beat him, I came in 8 minutes after him!!).
  • Ryan, for your enthusiasm and encouragement
  • Craig for running the whole way with me and waiting for me when I needed to make pit-stops, that is what I call running-friend-loyalty!!
  • Dad for maintaining your title of Worlds Best Second
  • Mom for being my greatest fan and for all your support
  • Barry for flying down to surprise me on the route (and for sending all the race updates on Twitter) – sorry I couldn’t stop and chat 🙂
  • Stuart the bus driver who did a fantastic job of getting us all over the finish line in under 11 hours

Thanks to everyone who donated, wished us well, followed us on the day, sat through blow-by-blow accounts of the race and supported us every step of the way.

I’m thrilled with the positive response I’ve had regarding this project, I’ll keep everyone updated from time to time on how the little guys and girls in Red Hill informal settlement are doing.

The little guys and girls from Red Hill

Comrades Marathon Numbers

The final stats from the Comrades Marathon are in!!

Of the 11 346 people who started the race (12 952 entered which means 1 606 people didn’t feel like running on the day) – 10 006 people ran (or crawled or dragged themselves) over the finish line in Durban.  That’s a whopping 88.1% finishing rate, for a race of this length I think that is pretty awesome!!

Women made up 17.5% of the finishing field, while men made up the remaining 82.5%

It also seems that at this stage people are starting to contemplate next years run… It is the 85th commemorative race and will be from Pietermaritzburg to Durban again (there has never been a consecutive “down” run) and because it co-insides with the 2010 soccer world cup they are expecting a record number of entries, resulting in the powers that be deciding to limit entries to 20 000.

Now I don’t know if this is an interesting marketing ploy but what is it about making something “Limited” that drives people (especially those who had said NO MORE), to start thinking about entering again,  barely 3 weeks after the race?  Actually what is it about an 89km race that has people coming back year after year…?


Running Theory

I have a little confession to make…  You know when I wrote about Ostriching and that as a running strategy it is probably sub-optimal – weeelllll

Since January I have been keeping a log of all my training and race kilometres, I’d decided to do this just so that I’d know how off track I was, but as it turns out I only ever plugged data in, I never actually looked back to check how far off I was – yes, (head hung low) I was ostriching it because I had a sneaky suspicion that my training wasn’t anywhere near where it had to be.

Of course the story doesn’t end there…  The day before the race when I met up with other runners from my club, everyone was comparing how many kilometres they’d logged in training which ranged between 1 000 and 1 200km’s since Dec/Jan – I stealthily stayed out of these conversations because when I thought back to my training calendar I remember it being rather sparse…

SO, this weekend I decided to count up how much I actually did and finally go cold turkey on the ostriching,  an exercise which made me realize that luckily I did ostrich with this particular thing because as it turns out I had to round up – to 600km’s!!!!

No really, I’m not joking I even counted again to make sure which has lead me to start thinking about this whole training thing.  Do we train incessantly for the Comrades (or any longer race for that matter) to help our bodies or our minds?

My theory is that mental training is totally separate and has nothing to do with running or how much you have trained.  Sure if you know you can do a marathon then you’d be more confidant to tackle an ultra, what I’m talking about is the fact that on most of these races I’ve found that it is my mind which determines how well my race is going to go, not my fitness…

I’m going to think about this a bit more, what is your theory?

My Comrades medals for 2009

My Comrades medals for 2009