Egads I’m tired. But who, training for Comrades, isn’t?
This blog is not about me. This blog is for Haley Ryan. I put a post script in one of my blogs to a lady from Roodepoort who had recognised me as the SlowCoach and that was pretty cool. Her name is Haley. Since that day, we’ve seen each other regularly on the road. It turns out that we run at similar paces. She’s good on uphills. I’m good on downs. So although we don’t run together, we see each other and we always joke about her being a SlowCoach or my being a SlowCoach. I like Haley a lot.
Okay, so this piece is about me…..
Last time I wrote, I was sick as a dog. Totally depleted. Totally run down. I was hoping to run Wally Hayward. It was not to be. I could have run Wally, but that would have put me back a bit because i wasn’t quite well enough. (Top Deck won the Wally marathon with very little fanfare. I’m very proud of you Top Deck. You’re going to totally rock this next race!) I really wanted to run Colgate because last year Colgate beat me. Last year, I entered the 32km, but gave up at the split and ran only 15km that day. I disappointed myself, but I know that it was probably the right decision on the day. I was injured, so… So I wanted to go and redeem myself this year at Colgate. Their goodie bag is the best goodie bag in the country! It was also going to be good to see @gosharpshooter and Illuminati Michelle wanted to run it in spite of her torn hamstring….wait for what I tell you about that later. She really is in a class of her own.
So now who is this blog about again? Ah yes….Haley….
Michelle and I almost arrived late. Well we arrived early, fully expecting our usual pre-race nap in the car. But at 6.20, Michelle looked around and asked, “Why is the car park so empty? I thought you said this race starts at 7?” “Yeah. that’s what is said on the website I went to .” Oops! The race started at 6.30. When we realised my faux pas, we jumped out the car, ripped off tracksuits and did a very swift warm up sprint to the start. Lol. Sorry Michelle. Lesson learned. Winter races start at 6.30. My bad. So we had no wait whatsoever at the chilly Boksburg start. The start for me was very slow. I was stuck at the back and it took me something like 4 minutes to cross the start line, but I was soon passing people. I was coughing occasionally and slowing blowing through all my tissues. I passed Haley and her friend, Shawneez (sp) on a downhill and Haley shouted to me that I should remove the SlowCoach from my shirt. I laughed. I never really have a retort to that because I’m still friends with the likes of Illuminati Michelle and Illuminati Paula and Top Deck so I could live to 79 years old and still be considered a SlowCoach. Colgate is not a bad route except for the fact that we have to go past the Colgate factory which everyone told me about last year, but I didn’t see it. Admittedly, they put a water point right in front of the entrance so you don’t actually see the factory because you’re just thinking about the water point. They really should change that route. The Colgate factory is in an industrial area on a large main road. The race is a double lapper and the second lap starts at the turn off for the 15km. Oh crumbs. I was going to have to face that saboteur of mine at the 15km mark and not give up, but keep running to run the full 32km.
Just after the Colgate factory, I turned into another fairly wide road and I heard a commotion about 100 metres ahead of me. Two speeding cars were driving down the road, dangerously close to the runners, people were screaming. Runners were running down the road screaming for us to stop the car. As they passed me, I realised that the second car, a Jeep, was attempting to stop the first car, a blue golf. Someone was screaming “No No this is terrible someone is dead there.” I didn’t know what to do. I turned around and started running towards the runners coming around the corner I’d just come round because these two cars were going to crash into them. The Jeep managed to overtake the speeding golf and cut him off right on the corner where a bus of runners were coming round. A Roodepoort runner came running past me from up the road. He thrust open the driver’s door of the Golf and started pulling at the driver’s head. The adrenalin fuelling him was making him furious and I just turned away because, although I had begun to realise what had happened, and I could possibly understand the adrenalin fuelling the runners involved, I did not want to witness or be part of mob justice. I also thought that I’d probably be able to help more at the site of whatever had happened. I hoped and prayed I wouldn’t see a dead person on the road. It had dawned on me that the Golf had struck a runner and the driver had carried on driving. The driver of the Jeep, driving behind, had seen what had happened and had aprehended him. As I ran closer, I saw the person lying on the floor was dressed in red. I was suddenly filled with horror because I knew what had happened. It was Haley, my fellow SlowCoach. Obviously on the uphills she and Shawneez had passed me and were now in front of me.
It was Haley. There were many people around now. Many and I looked on helpless. Haley lay frozen on the road, conscious, but clearly very very shocked and in pain. Someone had stabilised her neck and she was being kept still. Her shirt was slightly lifted and I could see a large cut across her abdomen. Shawneez was crying, clearly totally traumatised by what she had just witnessed. I considered the value I could add and realised that I had nothing to add to this situation, except maybe prayer. And so I turned and walked away slowly, praying that she would be okay. A short while later, we heard the sirens and we heard a helicopter. What a terrible thing. A runner was run down by a reckless driver (it is alleged that he was drunk). Haley was run down. In a race. There were hundreds of us on that road. How could this happen? This is the third person in this year that I have heard of being knocked over while running. What the fuck is wrong with the drivers on the road?
Megan was knocked over on her morning run by an unlicensed driver texting. Mr Letseka was driven over by a lady in a hurry at a traffic circle and, as a result, was unable to submit his PhD thesis when he had planned to. And now Haley was run over by a reckless driver. We should be allowed to stone cars that hit runners or cyclists!
The accident demoralised me somewhat and I started coughing a lot. I pushed on past the 15km mark in spite of my coughing and spluttering. With 10km to go, Werner caught me and we ran the rest of the way together. On the route, I met Lynn who had run with me on Comrades. On the second lap of the race, the Metro cops were just finishing up their preliminary assessments and marking the scene of the accident. There was a human body drawn around the spot where Haley had been lying when I saw her. The was a big pool of Haley’s blood there. It was traumatic to see and I wondered if she had survived. I didn’t know how to feel. I just felt defeated. What a terrible thing to happen. Haley was ready to run her back-to-back, just like me. She had worked just as hard as me and she was as fast…or as slow….as me. We would have finished Comrades probably at the same time. And now that was ruined. Some reckless drunk had ruined Haley’s chance.
Haley was airlifted to Union hospital where she is on the mend. She had many broken bones and requires quite a great deal of rework. It will be a while before she runs, but she’s a trooper and she’ll be back running as fast….or as slow….as me in no time at all, of that I’m sure. I will write to the Comrades Marathon Association to ask them to give Haley dispensation on her back-to-back until she is ready for another up run. Haley, you still cannot call yourself the SlowCoach because you used outside intervention to become slower than me. So get better and get running again because I will expect to be passed by you very soon.
I was going to tell you about Illuminati Michelle, right? Well, Illuminati Michelle, with the torn hamstring, came second in the ladies veteran race, but, because of the rushed start, had not put her age category numbers on her vest and so did not win a prize. She is an amazing athlete and because of that,
I remain, forever yours