My Comrades Marathon journey has been life-changing and unforgettable.

You see, I was never a serous runner, so it is incredible that come Sunday I will be lining up for my third race.

Of course I was active at the gym and I ran 10km races now and then.

But having a brother (Sibonelo) who ran the Ultimate Human Race regularly it was only a matter of time before I took the plunge.

And I did back in 2015.

After completing my first half marathon at the 2014 Mandela Marathon, I woke up the next day to enter the 2015 Comrades. It was the opening day of registration and I happened to be the first person to enter the 90th edition of this incredible event.

But that excitement was soon dying out as, two months later, I got ordered to stop running. I’d sustained a severe injury and had to take a rest from races.

Naturally, doubts started creeping in and I considered giving up.

I thought maybe this Comrades thing was not for me.

I’m glad I didn’t give up. I started training in December and in February I ran my first marathon that I completed it in just over four hours to qualify for Comrades. A fortnight later I managed to qualify for D Batch.

A friend made sure that I could do more with my maiden Comrades by running for one of the Comrades’ AMABEA-DIBEADI charities.

The idea of running for a purpose and to make my first Comrades meaningful appealed to me. It sounded right that I was not going to run just for me but for those in need too as well as friends and family.

As if that was not enough, I was then chosen as the “Inspirational Runner for Old Mutual” and was thus part of their radio and social media campaigns before the race.

What a blessing ... What an experience. When I finished in Pieter-maritzburg, in 2015 in 10:12 of toil, in which I came across some amazing people whose encourage-ment kept me going, my life flashed before me.

From the time I had entered this great race, overcoming the obstacles and challenges, the 89km I had to conquer on my own two feet from start to finish, it all came back. And the emotions overwhelmed me I just couldn’t hold back the tears - tears of joy.

Comrades has taught me so many lessons, not just about running but about life itself. I still run for the Community Chest Charity and as their Ambassador, I’ve decided to make this year’s race all about bringing awareness to runners about the importance of running for a cause and the importance of giving back.

My goal and passion is to motivate people to start running and one day run the Comrades Marathon. I believe we can all inspire and motivate.

*Nontuthuko Mashimane is a nutritionist in Pietermaritzburg and a Community Chest Ambsassador.

The Star

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