Run Comrades for more than yourself

Fazlin McCallum (right) showing off that medal.

Fazlin McCallum (right) showing off that medal.

Self-confessed “fun runner” Fazlin McCallum relives the emotion of the day that she ran the 89km of her first Comrades Marathon…

I’m an avid reader but not always a doer, so having a nagging, loving sister encourage me to go to a personal trainer for strength training wasn’t always welcome but I needed that kick and it paid off in the end.

Ridhaa Allie pushed me when I didn’t in the least feel like doing it. So a huge thank you Ridhaa for helping me stay on my feet throughout the race and for a great physical recovery.

Magedie Theunissen’s “hill pacing… don’t attack the hill guys” kept me going uphill and our very own legend, Aslam Galant’s pacing strategy were what I tried to copy during those last 20kms. At this point there were no more thoughts of catching up with the bus but rather survival instincts and strong beliefs coming to the fore.

My non-runner daughter telling me along the way that she can also do this race made it all worthwhile.

Post-race, the next two days I traumatised my sister Zaida by waking her at 5am to vent my anger and to gain an understanding of my state of mind. The poor woman needs her own medal for just sharing a room with me. She didn’t understand why I felt so angry and disappointed when I successfully completed the race, which was my goal.

Ever heard of a race bringing your anger to the fore? Well that’s how I felt after conquering Comrades.

Angry that my body let me down and my worst fear realised, of losing the 2.0 bus and having to run on my own. At the 15km mark this was the start of a no fun race and the constant questioning of myself. “Why am I doing this again? Oh yes, because I can.” That’s what happened to me when I ran this race with a runny tummy.

I’m your typical “fun runner,” just running to destress while enjoying the road and some good company.

Fazlin with her support crew.

Fazlin with her support crew.

I thrive on runners’ camaraderie and not having to push too hard. Quite a bit of work but mostly effortless child-like fun… it’s my escape from the world.

That is until the day of Comrades, where I had to “skoert” to stay in the race and get that medal.

Lazy runner that I am, pushing hard is no fun for me, so my day was dominated by thoughts of “why am I doing this” and the frequent disappearing acts from the bus for a toilet stop and to gather my composure, so that I could catch up with my 2.0 running family.

Having my father, siblings, daughter and friends waiting for me at the finish and imagining the joy on their faces when I finished, helped me to stay focused and pace myself. Of course, the happy memories running through my mind pushed me on with a lopsided smile. Hats off to the runners who always do that, especially Aslam Galant. I find it nerve wracking having to check if my pacing is right. I’ve learnt that being tense can mess up a race, so I tried very hard to stay relaxed but most of the time I forgot to enjoy the day, which is my main ingredient for a successful race.

Having my dad give me zam zam water at the 82km mark and my daughter’s obvious joy and delight at the finish were priceless.

Yes, it helps having a big entourage along. Will I do this again? Of course. I have unfinished business. Insha’allah I need to go back to show that road I can and will have fun on ALL my races and runs.

Pushing beyond boundaries might not be my idea of fun but it helped me overcome some of my weaknesses and focused on my strengths.

Once again having my Itheko family as support, along with encouraging words from a pang with his ever present camera trying to capture the moment, helped to spur me on. Hugs to my special supporters, Gadija Ryklief and Soraya Manie, for never once doubting that I would finish what I started.

So if you really want that medal, go out there, believe in yourself and run for more than yourself.

A few days before the race a running friend messaged me: “Comrades is a battlefield.” Not for one moment did it cross my mind that I would spend my day rehydrating, force-feeding myself and taking calculated steps towards the finish line.

With Yasmien Jadwat’s “you are awesome my friend” ringing in my ears I eventually finished in a time of 11.56.

By Fazlin McCallum

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