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Around the World Home > Features > Around the World > Comrades Marathon 2010: "Well Done, Well Done"

Comrades Marathon 2010: "Well Done, Well Done"

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From start to finish the run is magical.

My trip to the starting line of the 85th Comrades started the week of the 84th running. My boss had talked about the possibility of a work trip to South Africa. I said that I had long wanted to take part in Comrades. “Get into the race and I’ll send you there.” November 1 was the opening date for first-timer registration. Would the boss remember the offer? September 1, October 1 and then again at the end of October I pestered him, just to make sure. It seemed like an offer too good to be true. “Yes, get into the race,” he said. Before the sun rose on November 1 in Milwaukee, I was on the Comrades website, credit card in hand. With the sevenhour time difference I didn’t want to wait too long. Within hours, the race closed, filled to its 20,000-entrant capacity.

A few minutes before the start, the South African anthem was played. Sung in a combination of Zulu, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Sesotho and English - five of the 11 most frequently spoken languages in the country - it is a reminder of the history of the country and its re-birth as a post-apartheid society. The gun went off and four minutes later I crossed the start line and was soon able to run my pace, surprised at how easily 20,000 people found room in the streets.

All runners are required to wear bib numbers on front and back, with our names printed on them; the color of the number indicates something about its wearer. International runners had blue numbers. People of multitudes of colors and accents came up to me and welcomed me to their country and to their race. “We are so glad that you are here!” I was told. And they seemed to mean it. Runners, volunteers and spectators had the same welcoming enthusiasm. “Welcome to South Africa!” I heard again and again.

As we slowly ran up an early hill a fellow runner told me, “Next year you will run down this!” Comrades switches directions each year and while I was only a few kilometers into the race I was already being encouraged to come back for an “up year.”

“Oh, but you must!” I heard over and over. “You are doing a fine job here today. Well done, well done!” Bottles or a hydration pack? Neither are needed. After the first few kilometers the aid stations are constant. How do 20,000 people move through an aid station? Very easily when there are hundreds of volunteers at each.
Ever wonder what it might feel like to ride in the Tour de France, with spectators camping out just to cheer you and your fellow competitors on? Eager fans crowded in the street, propelling you forward with their enthusiasm? “Well done, well done! Welcome to South Africa!” Coming through the main spectator sections one was surrounded by fans five, six and seven deep. In less spectator-friendly sections the fans were there as well, though smaller in number. From the top of bridges and even hanging from trees they were there. The encouragement of women to women was incredible. “Lady, lady, you look so strong! Lady, lady, I know that you will finish! Lady, lady, have courage!” And of course, “Lady, lady... WELL DONE!” The course felt like a paved cross-country ski trail without the snow. If you have done the American Birkenbeiner or Quebec’s Gatineau you have a sense of the terrain. Rarely was it flat. Up, up, up and down, down, down. This was a “down year” from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, so the end point was much lower than the start. For those who still had quads in the last 20-km it was a wonderful ride into town. For those who had lost them somewhere around 70-km, the end was a constant battle of pain management. “Well done, well done!” The shout took on a new meaning in the latter miles of the race.

I had heard about the stadium finish but had no idea of what awaited me. My jaw dropped as I entered. Thousands of fans were waiting for us. Cheers from every direction. Our entry flashed upon a jumbo screen as we came to the finish. So overwhelmed by the spectacle, I found myself laughing and crying all at once. Even the finish of mid-packers like me was broadcast on national television. “We saw your finish on TV!” said one of my hosts at the end of the day. “You are now famous in South Africa.” I have done many races, and been a part of many special sporting experiences. But this? All I can say is “WELL DONE!” What more can I offer to the South Africans than their words to me.

Comrades Marathon, 89 km
Pietermartizburg, South Africa
May 30

1. Stephen Muzhingi, ZIM 5:29:01

2. Ludwick Mamabolo, ZAF 5:35:29

3. Sergio Motsoeneng, ZAF 5:35:58

26. Michael Wardian, USA 6:02:36

46. Elena Nugalieva, RUS (1F) 6:13:04

47. Olesya Nurgalieva, RUS (2F) 6:13:05

74. Marina Myshlyanaova, RUS (3F) 6:26:03

90. Kami Semick, USA 6:32:55

186. Josh Cox, USA 6:51:29

278. Thomas Dmukauskas, USA 7:03:49

552. Nikki Kimball, USA 7:26:37

757. Paul Leslie-Smith, USA 7:41:37

817. Roger Moss, CAN 7:46:18

984. Marc-Andre Charette, CAN 7:55:44

1049. Matthew Leduc, CAN 7:59:43

1097. Darl Sutherland, CAN 8:02:45

1223. Nicholas Medica, USA 8:09:54

1413. Adrian King, USA 8:18:59

1418. Adam Chase, USA 8:19:03

Lorena Devlyn, USA 8:19:03

1484. Krystal Lebreton, CAN 8:21:11

1663. Timothy Englund, USA 8:28:25

1699. Errol Yudelman, USA 8:29:32

1819. Lisa Bliss, USA 8:34:03

2268. Todd Katter, USA 8:46:20

2454. Spencer Farrar, USA 8:50:30

2468. Tom Haines, USA 8:50:48

2591. Hannah Landecker, USA 8:53:27

2786. Ashley Long, USA 8:56:20

2883. Robyn Poulson, USA 8:58:39

2956. Jill Donak, CAN 9:01:46

2977. Russell Funk, USA 9:03:39

2985. Elizabeth Brundige, USA 9:04:23

3148. Kristin Cooley, USA 9:13:01

Colin Cooley, USA 9:13:01

3355. Michael Chitwood, USA 9:19:33

3398. Rex Fyles, CAN 9:20:48

3492. Gary Morgan, USA 9:23:53

3527. Jeffrey Moeur, USA 9:24:56

3587. Jan Lombard, CAN 9:26:26

3629. Frank Fumich, USA 9:27:43

3649. Phil Robinson, CAN 9:28:10

3768. Norm Rotter, CAN 9:31:39

3866. Mike Pastore, USA 9:34:44

3934. Douglas Killeen, USA 9:36:47

3963. Bryan Murphy, USA 9:37:47

4033. Mark Kugler, USA 9:39:10

4106. Tonya Littlehales, USA 9:40:55

4147. Dave Berkey, USA 9:42:18

4183. Robert Kazar, USA 9:43:18

4199. Patrick Kongsilp, USA 9:43:37

4282. Christine Bradley, CAN 9:45:15

4300. Eric Fogleman, USA 9:45:33

4355. Kendall Brubaker, USA 9:46:37

Andrew Baldwin, USA 9:46:37

4393. Michael MacDonald, CAN 9:47:14

4400. Joyce Forier, USA 9:47:25

4710. Andrea Moritz, CAN 9:52:52

4805. Alyn Park, USA 9:54:19

4889. Martin Fajardo, USA 9:55:27

Anthony Halaby, USA 9:55:27

5072. Matthew Worstell, USA 9:56:43

Logan Wright, USA 9:56:43

5114. Mary Gorski, USA 9:57:21

5169. Nathalie Vendette, CAN 9:58:35

5193. Brian Jackson, USA 9:59:04

5356. Tony Studer, USA 10:05:14

5382. Hamilton Hadebe, USA 10:06:01

5722. Elaine Acosta, USA 10:13:12

5726. Theresa Do, USA 10:13:22

5785. Catherine Belic, CAN 10:14:09

5924. Brad Fogleman, USA 10:16:40

5991. Paul Courtney, USA 10:18:07

6159. Muhammed Akil, USA 10:21:18

6170. James Crowe, USA 10:21:30

6403. Christopher Sullivan, USA 10:25:12

6419. Laura Yasso, USA 10:25:28

Tracy Hixon, USA 10:25:28

6454. Timothy Maguire, USA 10:26:04

6488. Dana Pasquale, USA 10:26:33

6543. Sean Mullett, USA 10:27:32

6589. Paul Jansen Van Rensburg, USA 10:28:27

Travis Blanton, USA 10:28:27

6753. Paul Martin, USA 10:30:36

6772. Sonja Adcock, CAN 10:30:47

6778. Susan Rouse, USA 10:30:54

6969. Cliff Congo, USA 10:34:21

Brian Flaspohler, USA 10:34:21

7037. Charles Buckland, USA 10:35:16

7303. Graeme Steele, USA 10:39:10

7359. Thomas Prendiville, USA 10:40:19

7520. Bridget Robinson, CAN 10:42:42

7571. Amanda Goddard, USA 10:43:24

7713. Melissa Johnson, USA 10:44:55

7736. Britta Dempsey, USA 10:45:03

7819. Jeffrey Collins, USA 10:45:37

7978. Katherine Fogelberg, USA 10:47:29

8005. Michael Crotty, USA 10:47:42

8106. Scott Couper, USA 10:48:30

8114. Catherine Hopkins, CAN 10:48:33

8732. Darwin Williamson, USA 10:51:18

8399. Jonathan May, USA 10:51:34

8632. Tony DiLella, USA 10:53:32

8666. Cameron Ferroni, USA 10:53:43

8753. Kimberly Meitzen, USA 10:54:23

8977. Matthew Hagen, USA 10:55:22

9266. Jacqueline Wilson, USA 10:57:35

9529. Christopher Good, USA 11:01:38

9601. Kate Stence, USA 11:04:36

9602. Admas Belilgne, USA 11:04:42

9633. Stephen Spear, USA 11:05:51

9639. Dave Obelkevich, USA 11:06:11

9779. Jack Jewell, USA 11:10:02

9897. Kerry Nino, USA 11:12:32

10168. Scott Cohen, USA 11:17:49

10248. Steve Flynn, CAN 11:19:04

David Tucker, CAN 11:19:04

10297. Lubica Elser, USA 11:19:45

10800. Robert Botto, USA 11:25:16

10873. Peter Breen, USA 11:26:17

19053. Scott Gibson, USA 11:27:02

11162. Christopher Watson, USA 11:29:46

11179. Edward Brown, USA 11:30:02

11195. Jon Powers, USA 11:30:20

11418. Donald Winkley, USA 11:33:20

11447. Tammy White, USA 11:33:36

11450. Terence Reuben, USA 11:33:37

11455. Bart Yasso, USA 11:33:38

11464. Marla Hendricks, USA 11:33:40

11813. Gokhan Ozuner, USA 11:38:00

11875. Fiona Philips, USA 11:38:49

Guy Philips, USA 11:38:49

11885. Jill Biddington, USA 11:38:55

12025. Kiel McElveen, USA 11:40:19

12026. Colin Saville, USA 11:40:20

12274. Jason Flaspohler, USA 11:42:39

12330. Jana Cole, USA 11:43:10

John Cole, USA 11:43:10

12421. Stephen Blum, USA 11:44:06

12447. Wayne Corlett, CAN 11:44:16

12599. Thaddeus Sweet, USA 11:45:14

12794. Jay Wissot, USA 11:46:50

13037. Manickam Krishnamurthy, USA 11:48:47

13058. Grady Harrison, USA 11:48:59

13178. Edson Sanches, USA 11:50:20

13184. Ricardo Zamora, USA 11:50:26

13459. Hamilton Costa, USA 11:51:13

13622. Mike Allpass, USA 11:52:19

14081. Stephan Elser, USA 11:56:31

14219. Pushpa Chandra, CAN 11:58:10