“I finished school in 1979 and went on to do my military service in Bloemfontein in 1980. At the end of my 1st year I injured my back in a freak accident. Two years and three back operations later, the third being a spinal fusion in November of 1982, I finally managed to leave the army.

 

By then I was deemed 50% medically unfit by the military medical board and had doctors advising that I could not participate in running or any contact sport and had to wear a brace. By March of 1983 I couldn’t take the inactive lifestyle and limitations anymore.

 

I started to run. Mostly shorter distances but slowly built up to half marathons. I was so much healthier with so much less pain and discomfort. It took years of physio and exercises to get to a level where I could maintain a decent pace and be comfortable with my back.

 

Then one year I couldn’t get an entry for the Knysna half and I decided to do the full marathon. That was the beginning of a new era. I finished the race, but outside of the time limit so I went back the next year and finished it in time. And that was how the long distance running bug bit.

 

With the Comrades now on the radar, I started to train and achieved my first Comrades medal in 2005. Over the next few years, I completed 6 Comrades races. In 2016 I got to the halfway mark when I had to stop due to too much back pain.

 

Back home I went to the doctor and ended up in hospital 6 weeks later for another spinal fusion between the old fusion and the vertebra above that. Unfortunately, there were some complications and a year later, in 2017 I had another back operation to widen the spinal canal to release pressure on the nerves.

 

In 2018 I made a comeback and ran the Two Oceans. Now I am working my way back to get to the magical Green Number for 10 Comrades Marathons and between my back and my age, I can do with all the help I can get. The Arnica products will help, as that is what I use all the time. I’ll be back for Comrades 2021, aiming for number 7 in my 60th year.”

The winner of this month’s Arnica Ice hamper is Chris du Toit.