IOL Sport's Njabulo Ngidi will run his maiden Comrades Marathon this year. Photo: @NJABULON on Twitter

JOHANNESBURG – A month from today I will do the dumbest thing ever, and I will do it sober which means that I can’t use alcohol as an excuse for my stupidity.

On June 10 I will run my maiden Comrades Marathon, an approximately 90.184km down-run from Pietermaritzburg to my hometown Durban. 

A couple of years ago I thought people who ran this ultra-marathon were mad. Why put yourself and your body through that much torture, I would ask them. The grimace they wear at the finish line after their limbs have taken a beating for a whole day of running proved why this was dumb.

But in the last two years I have also lost my mind after being bitten by the running bug. 

I started running as a habit of leisure because I was ballooning out of control thanks to a diet of fast foods. I didn’t go to a gym because I find it claustrophobic and too pretentious, having to mix with the selfie and video-taking crowd who want to show their cyber friends the gains they are making.

The solitude of the road was a safer bet. 

What started as a way to control my weight turned into a habit and a therapeutic exercise that helped me start my day with a clear mind. It was also cheaper than seeing a therapist, well except for the running shoes. But it did my body and my head a whole world of good. 

I started doing 10km then pushed up to 21.10km before doing my first marathon last year on May 1.

It kicked my ass and I kept asking myself what the hell was I thinking. Limbs and muscles I never knew I had were sore. But the reward I felt for doing what I never thought I could made the pain bearable. 

That’s when I started entertaining the idea of running Comrades, as a step up from marathons and a test to see how much my body can endure.

I ran my first ultra at this year’s Om Die Dam and it made me believe I can finish the Comrades. 

But my biggest challenge was the 60km training run I ran in Midrand last month. It kicked my ass, literally and figuratively due to the constant bathroom breaks I took. 

Those breaks took a lot out of me physically but my stubborn side pushed me to finish. I dragged my body until the end, just over eight hours later and I would have missed the 57.610km Comrades cut-off in Winston Park with the time I ran.

That experience was an eye-opener. 

It taught me about the importance of eating clean before the race and taking good care of myself. My approach to running has been to wing it, seeing as I go because I am too cool to research and too stubborn to quit. But this is different, I am reading as much as possible. 

I think I am ready for it mentally. The run in Midrand made me realise that. I wanted to quit but I pushed myself to the finish.

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A number of people have been asking me why I am doing this? 

The logical answer is that I want to test myself. If I can do Comrades, there is nothing that I can’t do. I also want to stick it to my family who don’t believe that I will finish. But I am also running it in honour of my late father who would have turned 58 years yesterday. I used to watch Comrades with him when I was young without ever thinking I would run it. 

Now I have lost my mind and will be part of those running. 

I know he’ll be watching.

The Star

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