CAPE TOWN – Mining engineer Daniel de Wet proved the power of the human spirit after he completed his seventh Comrades Marathon in 11 hours and 30 minutes, despite a 1.8-metre metal industrial crowbar having penetrated his body at a mine three years ago.
De Wet and his family never though he’d survive the accident, which took place 3.5km underground, let alone run another marathon.
This was his first Comrades after the accident. The biggest risk he faced was kidney failure, but he was determined to take on the challenge.
“My doctor advised me to make sure I drunk enough water, but not too much, and to eat well, and my plan worked out. I feel very good. It was very emotional; while we were running I was thinking of all the things that happened. It is a miracle that I’m still here today. I had a second chance in life.
“There are people out there with much worse situations than me. You need to stay positive, and you need to be strong and never give up.”
De Wet, from Joburg, said the race was not easy.
“It was tough, especially at the 60km mark. I was struggling to keep up, but I just went on and on. The supporters and my wife cheering encouraged me, so I managed to go on and finish.”
He said the highlight was seeing different people run alongside him, each with their own story.
“I could align myself with all the miracles that were there - that was special,” he said.
In January 2015, De Wet was working on washing out a dam 3.5km underground at a mine in Carletonville, using an extended crowbar to stir up the mud, when he slipped.
The metal bar penetrated his body, entering his groin and coming out his back, just below the shoulder blade.
De Wet was airlifted to hospital and placed in an induced coma for 19 days. The doctors found that the impalement had caused significant damage, destroying one kidney and damaging his small bowel and numerous blood vessels.
Two trauma surgeons, Professor Ken Boffard and Professor Elias Degiannis, operated on his abdomen and chest area.
His advice for others wanting to enter Comrades next year was: “Start training from next month, it will be hard in the beginning, but you can do it.
“If you want to finish Comrades you need to train your mind and stay positive.”