A One-Legged Santa Passed Me On The Way…

Running is the ultimate leveller. When you’re on the road, there are no CEOs, there are no housekeepers, there are no housewives, there are no gardeners, there are no managers. There are just a whole lot of people on the same road experiencing the same pain and the same sense of achievement. Even those that are winning the race are experiencing the same pains and same worries and same fears. It’s such a beautiful metaphor for life. I really love that about running.

On Sunday I ran the Wits Kudus 21km. I think its the most difficult 21.1km on the Joburg running calendar. I’m led to believe by those who see more than the tarmac under their feet when they’re running that it’s a very pretty run. I’ll take their word for it! I was lucky to meet up with Jean at the start of the race. Jean and I met the week before at the Old Eds 21.1km and we’d run together for a short while. So this time, we started at a pace which we both found comfortable. Along the way, Jean met a client of hers who, as it turns out, is also a client of mine. Very strange, I know. The client, who shall henceforth be known as “The Client” Lyndon because he’s a Pinnock lawyer and well….you know lawyers…., ran with us the whole way and it was while we were discussing that we love running because it is, indeed, the great leveller, that The Client told me this story:

The Client has run several Comrades Marathons and it was on one Comrades marathon at a time when he was really struggling up a dreadful hill that he was passed by someone. That someone was not only dressed in a Santa suit, but that Santa had only one leg. Well, I never! A one-legged Santa? A one-legged Father Christmas passed me on a hill at Comrades!

I laughed so hard, I had to stop running. The Client told me he wanted me to go away. I wasn’t making fun of him. I was just astounded at the magnitude of the analogy for running being the great equaliser. What a surreal moment that must have been for him. What an incredible runner that one legged Santa must have been. The Client is no running slouch at all and that one-legged Santa passed him.

Thank you The Client. When I was crying behind my glasses at my usual 18km misery mark (he and Jean couldn’t see), I simply pictured the one-legged Santa passing The Client on the way to the Comrades finish line and I was smiling behind my glasses again.

I love that running is the great equaliser. I wish life was more like running. I love that there is no status on the road. Even the top runners know the suffering of the bottom feeders like me. Life is like that. We’re all muddling along in this life, but somehow in life, unlike running, we place some value on status and wealth or power or coming first. If only life were more like running. We’d meet people on our journey and make friends. We’d help those people we saw suffering either with an encouraging word or with a helping hand. We’d be grateful. We’d be patient. We’d win sometimes and other times we’d lose and we’d go and do it all again no matter what. Wouldn’t it be great if life was like running?

Yours in the love of running and life.
The Slow….slow Coach

One Ninth of a Comrades

I don’t usually write about my home training runs because, essentially, they’re boring. Don’t get me wrong. I learn something about myself and my running on every home training run, but mostly, they’re rather mundane. Today was different. When I left the house, I had no idea where I was going to go. I didn’t feel like doing my usual 5km or 10km run because well, they’re boring. So I went right instead of left and headed out towards the hills. The big hills of Northcliff. I live in Northcliff on the southern side of the hill and so heading west or north from my house, there are huge hills.

As I headed out from home, I decided I’d run to the top of Northcliff Hill and back. In the car, the hill seems about 3km away which meant that I would have a 6km run for the day which was good enough. On my feet the distance appeared and was further than 3km. In fact, it was exactly 5km away from my home. How fortuitous. From my house to the top of Northcliff hill is 5km and it’s not all uphill. From the top of Northcliff hill to my house is 5km and it’s not all downhill, as I was about to find out.
One 9th of a Comrades Marathon lurks outside my front door

I ran all the way to the top of Northcliff Hill. All the way. It’s hellishly steep for 2 long kilometres and there are other 200 or 300 metre ridiculously steep hills. The run home is much more difficult, however. The downhill 2km from the water tower to Frederick drive¬†was hell on my knees and quads and the steep hills on the way home were way steeper than those on the way to the top of the hill. At one hill, on the way home, the hill was so steep, a car stalled as it stammered past me on the hill! That’s how steep it was. My average pace was 8:34 minutes per kilometre and at some points in my run, I was running at 5:36 minutes per kilometre. Lol! I know exactly where I was when I looked down at my watch and I was running at 11:34 per kilometre! I laughed out loud, because everything about my body was telling me I was¬†running, but my watch told me I may as well have been strolling up that hill.

I imagine that my run today was a small taste of Comrades. The hills were preposterously steep, up and down and were merciless on every part of my legs.

I’ll add today’s route to my usual training routes because it’s just slightly over 10km which makes for an excellent run. Let me know when you want to join me on a one ninth Comrades training run.

Click on the link to learn more about this beautiful landmark

Lillyloompa has some interesting facts about the Northcliff Hill landmark