Comrades Centenary Hope challenge
2021 virtual run shows the importance of teamwork
By Davison Chihambakwe
Having been running since 2014, my best friend convinced me to register for Comrades 2020 down run which was supposed to be run between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.
However, Covid-19 happened and the race could not take place. Subsequently, the 2021 edition was also postponed because of Covid-19 but we could participate virtually in our own countries.
I decided to assess myself if I could run 90km. I had previously run 53km as my longest run.
During the Easter holiday,my friends and I had decided to do 100km endurance training run over three days starting with 50km, followed by 30km and lastly 20km.
This gave me confidence that I could withstand the sweet punishment of 90km in one day.
I decided to run from Harare to Shamva with my fellow running buddies Tracey, Fay and Kira.
13 June 2021 at 4:30 am we hit the road from Mount Pleasant , starting along The Chase, into College road, Churchill and then Enterprise.
The temperature was freezing and we had come prepared, but still, we felt the low temperatures. The run was going on at a very moderate pace with Fay pacing us.
The pace was averaging 6min30s/km which was a very comfortable pace for the four of us as we subtracted the kilometres towards Shamva.
The running was enjoyable with motorists hooting and encouraging us as we went on with our run. Along the way people from the surrounding villages would cheer us on and some would ask us what we were running for and to where, and they would encourage us to push harder.
Around 30km the terrain started having some rises along the way and the sun was now also hot and the pace went down to around 6min50s/km.
Our target was to get to 45km in under five hours and we continued without much worry because we were sure we will get there before the five hours.
By this time the bus was now in the hands of my pacer and very good running partner Tracey. The rhythm was flowing so well I felt very strong running besides this great comrade.
We would chat about the brutal terrain we had encountered during other runs like Kariba, Vumba and Nyanga and others during our trainings.
That gave us the strength to take on the challenging parts we met on the route.
We got to 45km under five hours and took a pit stop. Tracey and Fay do not just run, they have got a very good fashion taste whether they are going to work or running.
For the first half they had come up with a dress code. Tracey was wearing red, black and white while Fay was wearing black , green, black and white.
I could not escape this dress code thing: I was also donning red shorts with black tights.
We all had t-shirts themed with the Zimbabwe flag. We changed at 45km into fresh shorts and tights and we also peeled the compression tops as the weather was getting very warm.
We shared the road with fellow runners who were also doing the Shamva route.
We continued our journey towards Shamva, we felt good as we went towards 60km , the road was now much more deserted and quiet as a large number of runners had finished at 45km.
We pushed and covered 60km is just over 7 hours. It was looking good and the thought of finishing just above 10hrs was looking bright.
We continued putting one foot after the other and around 68km my left calf muscle was in pain. I put on a medical patch, and it felt batter for some kilometres.
My running mate was also complaining of thigh muscle pains and we encouraged each other to soldier on. The pace was now as low as 8 minutes per kilometre after 70km. At 77km the struggle was real, the pain got worse, and the pace dropped further.
We started to implement the run a kilometre and walk 200m strategy. This continued until around 89km.
The excitement of finishing 90km gave me rejuvenated energy, I convinced my partner for us to go for 91km just for good measure.
She looked at me and said :” Are you insane? “ To which I replied no deliberately avoiding eye contact because at that moment I knew I may become lenient and cave in. She just wanted to finish the 90km and stop, but once we hit 90km I kept going oblivious to her protests and she had no option but to join the craziness.
We completed the 91km just over 11hrs. I was very excited and thankful to my pacer, my motivator and running partner for running with me all the way to the finish.
Thank you Tracey, Fay and Kira for the push and encouragement, we will do it again and hope is not lost to do the comrades run in South Africa one day.
Hope is perpetual.
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