Thankfully yes I managed to get recovered from my injuries in time to run the race
Here is (quite) a bit about the race, I hope one day you get back to good enough fitness so that you could run the race, to give you inspiration there was one guy running his 42nd race, he had had 2 hip replacements and a knee replacement, also the oldest entrant was 83 so plenty of time yet:
After doing all that training and going all the way to South Africa last year and getting ill 2 days before the race I was doing all I could to avoid illness again this time. Unfortunately my brother wasn't so lucky and he ended up getting ill in the week before the race but still flew out.
We got out to South Africa on the 31st May and went to the Expo to pick up our race numbers on the 1st and then went to visit some friends in the afternoon and spent the evening doing final route and race prep. Saturday was spent sleeping until 2pm and not much else!
My brother was still pretty unwell and we had come to the conclusion he wasn't going to line up. So at 1.15am on the Sunday when my alarm went off I tried not to wake him but he still woke up, watched me getting my stuff together and then jumped out of bed and said sod it I may as well at least line up and then I will always know one way or the other if I can run it. So he got ready in less than 10 minutes and we were out the hotel door by 2am and into the car for Durban city centre.
We got one of the many buses along with heaps of others to the start in Petermaritzburg and were there by 4am ready for the 5.30am start. The bus journey was great, some people were quiet as mouses (mainly ones who had run it before) whilst others where clearly very nervous and talking like it was going out of fashion (mainly those that had not run it before).
Sitting around in the cold in Petermaritzburg was also strangely really great fun, chatting to other runners about how they planned to tackle the race, getting last minute energy down you, whilst others broke out into song:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3smvNN0Nd8http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoiduCpU ... ure=relmfu
My brother's positive mind set started to wear out around 5am though and he started to think lining up wasn't such a great idea after all. I kept telling to just see how it went and if he was struggling to drop out as I had done the year before knowing that there was nothing else you could have done and go to the finish and enjoy the experience of that which in itself is worth the trip.
We agreed that I would drop back from my starting pen, A to his in D and that we would run together and try and get him through the race.
So we went and lined up in his pen along with the other 18,000 people taking part in the race.
Once the traditional pre race music and songs started the heart begun beating a bit faster. Then when Chariots of Fire the final pre race song started the nerves really got going. I have never experienced a start to a race like the start to a Comrades:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKmSDdaXclchttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZV2E8OYklsUhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TbQosDIm1c
It was pretty cold to begin with, so we kept the extra clothing on and set out at a very steady pace trying our best to avoid the various discarded clothes that end up on the road. Around 7am the sun rose and it began to warm up a bit. We had already got through a few of the 'hills' by then and my brother was feeling okay.
We looked to be running pretty well and reached halfway bang on 5 hours, some 28 miles in with another 28 miles to go. By no means the fastest I had ever run such a distance but the key to getting through the race is pacing and holding back in the first half as there is many miles still to come.
But because we had got through halfway in 5 hours my aim of running a sub 9 hour race (the time needed to make the cut off for a Bill Rowan medal) had also gone but I knew that was gone when I agreed to run with my brother rather than run my own race. We had 7 hours left to run the rest of the race which although my brother was now feeling pretty wrecked we were confident he could finish. So we agreed to run another 2 miles together and then separate and run the last marathon distance as our own races.
The beauty of the Comrades is though that you aren't running on your own and you get chatting with so many others in the race, the blanket ban on any mp3 players etc really helps as people don't go into their own music world. Unfortunately we had already seen a good few people pull out of the race with injuries and one guy having a fit. The organisation though is fantastic, there are 2 medical helicopters dedicated to the race and so much other medical help it is amazing.
In terms of refreshments over 2 million sachets of water are given out, 660,000 sachets of Energade, 800kg of bananas, 7.8 tons of oranges, 2 tons of potatoes, 1 ton of chocolate, 1.2 tons of biscuits, plus absolutely heaps of other stuff is given out. Plus so many of the spectators offer food and drink and hose pipes etc.
I ran the second half in 4hrs 39 mins, managing to make up 2,800 places and finished in 3,644 position over all.
I felt really good in terms of energy over the last 26 miles but my quads and knees were in a lot of pain in particularly running down Fields hill which is a 3km stretch all down a very steep hill with really bad camber. Though I managed to put in a really strong finish doing sub 7 minute miles in the last flat bit into the Stadium in Durban with the boost you get form all the crowds cheering and the music.
In total over the course of the 'Down' run as it was this year, there is a total ascent of 4,500 feet (so much for it being a down run!) and a total decent of 6,500 feet.
My brother managed to finish the race in 10 hours 47mins achieving the Back to Back medal which is awarded to those who in their first 2 years complete both the Up and Down run.
After finishing I felt so relived I had managed it, 15 mins later I was virtually unable to move as my legs seized up. Once my brother finished we both swore that we would never run it again as we were in so much pain.
By the time we got back to the hotel, my left leg had come out in huge bruising in the lower leg and my right ankle had swollen right up.
The next morning we both had a really bad pain in the back of our left knees and could barely walk, when we got to Durban airport it was hilarious seeing all the other people in the airport, it was like a scene from a battle field with people hobbling around, a few people were being pushed on the luggage trolleys by their relatives. It was great chatting with them all as everyone had their own race story.
By about the end of Wednesday we were both starting to feel better and the legs had eased right off but my previously injured left knee was still giving me some pain. But we had already forgot most of the pain and what we had said to each other post race about never doing it again. So we are already planning out next years trip especially as I have some unfinished business with the Up run.
The time limit for running the race is 12 hours, with various cut off times through the race which you have to make or you are pulled form the race. For each of the big finishing times you get what they call buses, basically pacers who run the race to finish in set times, the biggest are the 12 hour buses with often well over 500 people in them (from 2010)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfttPhmI-Kg
Then in the final minute you get a big countdown from all of the crowd as people try their best to finish the race having covered all most 56 miles. We saw a guy very similar to this person from in 2011 who we and the rest of the crowd felt so sorry for having run so far yet the exact same thing happened metres from the line:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEWuBasQUBc
If there are any other runners reading this I could not recommend the race enough, it is such a unique race. The atmosphere is fantastic, the spirit amongst all the runners is amazing and the support is fantastic. One final video which I just love as it shows this race isn't really about your finish time but enjoying the experience, like this guy who still had the energy to stop for a quick dance:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMU-Be9AIJw
Give it a go!