Matshelane Mamabolo.
Matshelane Mamabolo.

In the grip of Comrades fomo

By Matshelane Mamabolo Time of article published May 12, 2019

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It definitely was a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out). Why else would I have had the kind of nightmare I did on the night that marked 30 days left in the countdown to the Comrades Marathon?

I took a break from running this past week to nurse a niggle I was feeling on the top of my left foot. And with that I also switched off from all matters Comrades. Sometimes you gotta do that, or else you will go crazy - such is the way that good old KwaZulu/Natal ultra impacts on those who dare partake in it. It takes all of you.

But then early on Thursday evening I spotted an email in my inbox from a little earlier in the day that I just had to read.

The Comrades Marathon Association’s Media and Communications Department had sent a list of the top contenders for this year’s male and female titles and my curiosity knew no bounds.

Typical of this time of the year, conversations among runners are always laced by who everyone thinks will reign supreme at the Ultimate Human Race. A few of my running club colleagues and I were in agreement that there is just no clear favourite for this year’s Up Run. The majority are of the view that reigning champion Bongmusa Mthembu might have just killed off his chances with that fabulous run he had at Two Oceans on Easter Saturday.

And so it was that my last reading before I went to bed was on those super human beings who have it in them to be the first to reach the Scottsville Racecourse on June 9, with us mere mortals likely to arrive at least two hours later - looking all the worse for wear and probably in need of some care out in the medical tents.

On Thursday night, however, I did not even arrive at Scottsville, let alone at the Durban City Hall for the start.

I had the kind of nightmare that would be worse than having a DNF (Did Not Finish) against my name for the 2019 Comrades.

And it felt so real that upon waking up from it I had to switch on the lights and walk about just to make sure it was but a dream. Funny I know, but when you have spent as much time as I have in training, nothing could be worse than not participating.

What made the nightmare worse was the fact that I’d actually made my way to Durban but for some strange reason I got too busy doing I cannot remember what that I missed the race.

The nightmare literally starts post-race with me arriving at Scottsville to find my clubmates already changed from their running clothes but with their medals dangling down their necks.

“Bra Jakes, where were you?” they asked, shocked that I did not rock up for a race I’d been highly anticipating.

The frustration for me was that I’d missed an Up Run and in the dream when they console me with that favourite line of Comrades runners - ‘there’s next year’ - I snapped. “But next year is a Down Run, it is not the same.”

You see, having done my back-to-back - ran my maiden Comrades and did my second one immediately thereafter to complete both the Up and the Down runs - I know that I prefer the run from Durban to Maritzburg over the other way.

So much so that my plan is that once I get a silver medal in the Down Run I am no longer going to do it.

And then in the dream I miss my favourite, the Up Run. Do you see why I awoke a very frustrated man?

It was but a dream. And all it told me was that I am teetering on the brink of wanting this way too much that I need to check myself and reprioritise.

Granted it is a good pursuit - testing one’s self physically and mentally while putting to use one of God’s given talents. But it should not mean so much that it dominates my dreams, does it?

After all anything can happen between now and June 9 to make me unable to participate. And I should be able to take whatever that is on the chin and move on.

Move on? Perhaps only after the FOMO had dealt with me.

Sunday Independent 


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