For My Father

Neezaam Mohamed hitting the finish straight at the 2016 Comrades Marathon.

Neezaam Mohamed hitting the finish straight at the 2016 Comrades Marathon.

It’s a new day, a special day, a day that has been on my mind for months. A day I dreamt about the previous week. Entering a roaring stadium waiting to consume me. Is this dream the closest I would get to the reality I so badly wanted?

I woke up on Sunday morning feeling chuffed that I had managed four hours of sleep. I shuffled around the room doing final adjustments to my combat gear. On departure, after fetching my friend Siraaj, my wife Lameez tells me of an unscheduled stop that we need to make. In confusion I sit in anticipation. Low and behold, it’s my friend Majdie. Due to an injury, he had decided not to run a few weeks prior to the race but then decided to surprise me, and flew down the night before to accompany me for a few kilometres. This pleasant surprise set the tone for the day.

After the war cries, we’re off to slay the beast known as the Comrades Marathon.

What an eventful day. The culmination of one’s hard work clenched between the fingers of dawn to dusk. A runaway train of mixed emotions.
Majdie left my side at 22km pacing me perfectly for the first quarter of the race. Soon thereafter I found myself paced by a man and his daughter, Dr Mulla and Nabielah. I’m honoured to have met such kind-hearted and motivating people. All their support became my support. What I loved was the factoring in of quiet time by Nabielah in the remembrance of our Creator.

As the hours ticked by, my legs became temperamental and the mind challenged me occasionally, trying to instill doubt. I was unscathed by all temptation as I was committed to finishing this race.

After last year’s third failed attempt I came home to my father’s disappointment. He asked my mother why everyone was finishing and I wasn’t. I was totally amused by this as he had never shown any interest in my running before. If I knew he was watching the telly waiting for me, I would have made a greater effort. He passed away in December. When the road seemed too long and uncompromising, with a lump in my throat, I found myself thinking of him and how I wanted to make him proud.

A life changing event indeed. A road where people unite, strangers become friends and lasting friendships are forged. A road where mountains are toppled by our greatest strength, the belief in ourselves.

By Neezaam Mohamed

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