I’m counting down the hours rather than the days now. I leave on Thursday and arrive in south Africa on Friday morning. I should be arriving at the Comrades Expo at about lunchtime.
The hairs all over my body stand on end whenever I enter the Expo. I remember the first time being very emotional. You can almost slice the atmosphere in there and bottle it. There is an air of anticipation in the air and you are surrounded by thousands of people in peak physical condition.
The stands are very interesting and reflect a country where running is extremely popular and almost on a par with footy here, at the very least in terms of participation.
I’ll join the long line for a massage, even though at the end of it you strip to your daks in front of everyone. I’ve given up caring! [I do make sure I’m wearing half decent ones though!]
Saturday will hopefully be spent off my feet, and getting enough carbs and water into myself. About 3 alarms will ensure I rise early enough for the taxi ride into the city for the 5:30am start.
The start is very special. Chariots of Fire plays through the booming sound system, punctuated by new rituals like the singing of the working song ‘Shosholoza’ which mimics a steam train climbing a hill. We also sing the national anthem and then a Zulu praise singer extols our courage.
Just before the start the music fades and we hear a recording of the famous cock crow, a tradition started in the 40’s by Max Trimbourne. Then the gun goes off, which sounds more like a cannon through the sound system. and 11000 runners set off in a stampede in the direction of the hills that lie in the hinterland.
I try and avoid getting tripped and trampled on, and try settle into a rhythm as quickly as I can. Before long the darkness recedes and an African sunrise begins behind our backs. Hopefully I’ll finish long before it is ready to set!