And so it was that me who took on the Comrades Marathon in 2014 and finished in bronze medal position. I then went back the following year and got a Vic Clapham medal, mainly because that year I did a lot of interviews on the road encouraging people and telling them that it is possible to do this mighty race.
But the experience of the first one lingers the most.
I remember how emotional I got at the start as we sang the national anthem. It felt like I was about to represent the country. And then I look around to see all these other people with fancy gadgets on them and you are just wearing a watch and you start doubting. Being in the G batch I only got to start running after about 30 minutes.
Yet my Comrades journey really started after the 70km mark. It was at that point that I lost my toenails; my nipples were so chafed they began bleeding, I felt so sore under my armpits and my face was burning from the sun. And I had put on sunscreen, but after 70km it was all gone. And being the novice I was, I did not know I had to put plasters on my nipples to protect them.
Sure a few of my clubmates from Zwakala AC were there and they’d shouted encouragement early in the race and my running partner Phumzile Manzini had been of great help. David Mashile was very supported and gave me some pasta and energy boosters at the 65km mark.
But thereafter I was all alone and that’s when I realised the testing nature of Comrades.
Everything was aching, I was fatigued, and the cramps were kicking in.
And I learnt that day just how powerful the mind can be because it took over and the word finish took over from pain.
I started drawing inspiration from just about everything. There was a guy who shouted my name from seeing it on my top and that kept me going for a kilometer or so. Of course when I started I believed I was ready; I’d trained hard; my diet had been good and I believed I had on the right equipment.
But after 70km all that was gone and even the willpower couldn’t carry me. I knew then that “only God could help me” and scripture power stepped in. I started thinking of my wife and kids who were back home hopefully watching on TV and cheering me on.
At some point though I started hallucinating. I started feeling like I was in space. I blamed myself even for the lousiest of things, like why in the world did I choose green shoes of all colours.
But you know what, I went on and finished. And when I finished Comrades, I felt like I have this superman power. I felt like I could conquer anything in life - hence I will be doing the Iron Man this year.
Comrades taught me a lot. It was, to me, a perfect metaphor for life because in life you go through highs and lows; there are difficulties that make you wish you could just give up or quit. But if you hang on, the rewards always makes up for it all.
* Ole Ledimo is owner of House of Ole and also a Kine Influencer