“Every Comrades is special but my 2014 Down Run was an experience that I will never forget. I had previously attempted the Down but did not finish my race due to cramping. I subsequently put off any Comrades attempt for many years until I tried again.
So in 2014, I did everything by the book. I trained properly, did my stretching, did weekly visits to the physiotherapist to ensure that my calves were not going to let me down and I was ready. As I approached Comrades race day, I felt mentally and physically ready. I stood on that start line outside the Pietermaritzburg City Hall and thought, ‘This is my year to finally get my Down Run medal.’
As I plodded along and felt really good, I came down into halfway and started to feel the all too familiar feeling of the tingling in my calves. My soul was destroyed as I thought, ‘Here we go, my race is over!’
However, I pushed through, mile after mile, and walked when I had to, in order to release the cramping. I had filled my running shorts with pieces of ice at each refreshment station and thankfully, the coolness of the ice helped ease the cramping.
However, with 20km to go, there was no more ice.
This was the only thing that was helping to ease my cramping calves and I felt helpless at this stage. As I descended into Durban, I slowly came past the last refreshment station and basically, fell down.
Both my calves had gone into severe cramp mode. The paramedics came running towards me, ready to assist like angels. I remember them applying ice and massaging my calves.
It could not have been more than 10 minutes of me lying there but it seemed like an eternity. Suddenly one of them turned to me and said, ‘You have to go now otherwise you will not finish your race.’
I immediately tried to get up but couldn’t. The paramedics also tried to help me get up on my feet, but I just cramped. They then gave me ice which I held onto my calves and tried hobbling along.
Thankfully, after struggling for about 200m, I was able to get into a little jog. How I was able to finish that race with just over 4 minutes to spare is beyond me. I had multiple tears in both my calves but I had finally achieved my medal!
Such is my love story with The Ultimate Human Race.”
The winner of this month’s Arnica Ice hamper is Wendy Janssens.