Local athletes last week participated in a virtual Comrades Marathon.
There is no doubt that Covid-19 has changed everybody’s lives. With the lockdown restrictions, running races have been cancelled all over the world.
It was a huge blow when the iconic Comrades ultra-marathon was cancelled. It is the most nostalgic race and runners were devastated at the idea of missing out on Comrades.
That’s when the South Coast Striders decided that something should be done.
“We decided to hold a virtual version of the 90.2km race right here at home. The challenge was, we had certain lockdown rules that we had to adhere to,” explained Mark Smith, the club’s former running captain.
“It was decided that the runners would have the week of 8 June to 14 June to complete the distance. Rules were no more than three runners, social distancing and running between 6am and 6pm.”
A total of 40 runners took part, six of which were in teams of two.
“We even had three runners from other towns and one runner from the UK,” said Smith, adding, “Many of them completed the challenge in less days than they anticipated.
“It was amazing to see how the runners pushed themselves to new heights. Some of them had never completed half this distance in a week before this.”
Although it was never about time, all but three actually managed to complete the distance in under 12 hours, which is the official Comrades cut off.
South Coast Strider speedster Brino “Peter” Chidzungu smashed the 90.2km in three days in a time of 6h35.
The fastest lady was Marsha Muller who completed the 90.2km in three days in a time of 08h57.
The fasted team was Moira King and Gail Sutton who combined efforts to complete the 90.2km in 08h03 over four days.
Five brave runners completed the distance in one day – Daan van Niekerk, Wendy Makhaluza, Anton Rossouw, Deborah Berridge and Keith Reynolds.
Reynolds finished in a blistering time of 08h45, while Rossouw pushed himself to the limit by emulating the Comrades down run elevation gain of around 1000m.
“It was amazing to see how runners could motivate themselves and complete this challenge whilst adhering to the rules of lockdown,” concluded Smith.