There are only a few lucky enough to have run the Comrades marathon (89 km from Durban to Pietermaritzburg or vice versa) – in the history of the race, spanning back to the 1920’s, only 80 000 people have ever completed the race. Lucky, because there are many who do not have the time, resources or health to contemplate this insanity.
Many people will have a mental image of young, fit and slim people doing it, but it’s just not true – the event has a full spectrum of all sorts, shapes and sizes. Almost anybody could run it – all it takes is training and willpower.
One year’s motto – “It comes from within” got me thinking about why people are willing to submit themselves to such voluntary adversity, and what we hope to achieve by this submission, because certainly only a few have a realistic chance of winning the prize money.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” – Marianne Williamson.
In the face of difficulty, some are defeated and some rise above it. Any of the runners that start will tell you that they reached a point, beyond which they truly felt they could not go on. One of the leading contenders experienced this recently as he slowed to a walk barely 8 kilometres from the finish with victory in sight, but the body defeated.
So what is the “it” – is it the indomitable human spirit, mental fortitude, bloody mindedness or God, even? This pursuit of transcendence – moving beyond ourselves – is what makes the experience unique and worth the effort.