BEXI Achievers 2017

At the end of each year, we get together to celebrate the successes of our BEXI athletes. It’s a time to reflect on all the events that we’ve taken part over the year and toast those who have worked hard to achieve their goals.  2017 was a busy year – so at the outset, I’d like to congratulate every BEXI member for stepping out of your comfort zones and committing to some pretty amazing goals.

Huge congrats to our our top 2017 achievers:

 

  • Most Improved BEXI Athlete 2017 – Ann Velthuis

This very shy, quiet young lady, joined our BEXI team in 2016. She had a few niggles she was working on, but she turned up every week for every session. Her speed improved, her fitness improved, her confidence improved… and all of a sudden she was taking on the Level 2 training with the other girls. Huge congrats to Ann Velthuis for her tenacity to keep trying. You are a true inspiration Ann.

  • Most Determined BEXI Athlete 2017 – Roslyn Meyer

Without a doubt, this lady is truly deserving of this award. Her commitment and drive to focus on her goal was outstanding. She set her heart and soul on her New York marathon and made many sacrifices along the way. She never missed a training session, she was always motivated, she trained hard and she inspired so many around her. Roslyn Meyer you were 100% determined to achieve your first marathon goal – it was an honour to support you on the sidelines. Well done!

  • Most Inspirational BEXI Athlete 2017 – Sue Naylor

This BEXI athlete has absolutely blossomed this year. She started off with a half-marathon this year. Feeling a little deflated, she decided to focus on shorter distances for a while — that was until she was talked into trying a triathlon. Thinking it was a good idea, she bought a hybrid bike… and the rest, as they say, is history.  Huge congrats to Sue Naylor, for absolutely embracing her new-found passion of triathlon and being so completely focused and committed. Sue has truly flourished right before our eyes. Well done Sue!

  • Most Outstanding BEXI Athlete 2017 – Vicky Dawkins

This BEXI Athlete’s list of achievements is vast! She never stops. It is exhausting just reading the list of all the activities she has done this year. Suffice to say, this lady is determined to achieve. She continually pushes herself out of her comfort zone, never quits – even when the going gets tough. Is supportive of her BEXI buddies around her – and often inspires them to join the journey with her. Outstanding effort Vicky Dawkins.


BEXI Ambassador 2018 – Kaye Chan

Each year we recognise a very special BEXI athlete who lives and breathes our BEXI values.  She supports other members, inspires those around her, motivates others to achieve their goals, leads by example, lives a balanced life, is a great community-player. Not only is this person committed to developing herself, she is also committed to helping others and their communities.

This particular person often sacrifices her training to support others. She will willingly volunteer to support others, often making plans to meet up and train together. She will gladly put her hand up to lead our 5km runners, to co-ordinate training programs, to manage logistics for various programs… and so much more.

This special lady is selfless and absolutely thrives on supporting others. We are indeed very privileged to have this person as a very key member of our community. Congratulations to Kaye Chan on being our BEXI Ambassador for 2018.


Special mention goes to some key BEXI community members for working hard to fulfill their personal dreams:

  • Canberra Marathon – Louise Grigg and Dee Fitzgerald
  • Diamond Women’s Triathlon – Kate Marshall
  • Ironman 70.3 Cairns – Michelle Nicholas
  • Gold Coast Marathon – Hannetjie Brooks
  • Gold Coast 10km – Nicole Woolley
  • Blackmores Sydney Half-Marathon – Kasey McKee
  • Long Course Weekend Triathlon – Vicky Dawkins
  • New York Marathon – Roslyn Meyer and Hannetjie Brooks
  • Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney – Kaye Chan
  • Most BEXI Medals and Best BEXI Cheerleaders – Keiren Barham & Sue Naylor
  • Best BEXI Refreshments Supporter – Plezi Brennan

Congratulations on an absolutely outstanding 2017 – feeling very excited about 2018. We have a huge calendar of events for 2018 – can’t wait to get going.

 

Australian Running Festival 2018

The Australian Running Festival – 14-15 April 2018 – is our first key event on our 2018 event calendar. The fast course, the cooler temps, the seasonal colours, the crowd support, the trendy wine bars, the urban coffee shops… we love it!

Training

In 2018, we are offering 3 x training programs focusing on the long-distance ultra-marathon/marathon; the half-marathon and the 10km distance. We understand the pressures of life and trying to fit it all in (family, work, sport, friends, etc.) – so when planning our programs, we ensure our programs are achievable and enjoyable.

Our programs are built around 3 x weekly face-to-face coached training sessions focusing on speed, strength and endurance.  We train together as a team, as this offers encouragement, motivation, accountability for showing up and a great sense of camaraderie between fellow running buddies.  Training programs are prepared in periodised blocks to ensure you progress gradually and without injury.

Race Distance Training Program Training Starts
Ultra 50km | Marathon 42km 16 weeks 23 Dec 2017
Half-Marathon 21km 12 weeks 20 Jan 2018
10km 8 weeks 03 Feb 2018

Our coaches are experienced and passionate runners, who understand what it takes to achieve your goals. We are 100% supportive and will work closely with you to ensure you succeed.

What is included?
  • Periodised training plan based on your race distance (8-16 weeks)
  • 3 x face-to-face coached group session – long run, interval run and tempo run
  • Analysis and feedback on training data
  • Goal setting
  • Mental skills and strategies
  • Race nutrition and recovery
  • Race tactics and guidance
  • Race weekend logistics
  • Motivational support
  • Access to private online forum
  • Membership of a supportive, like-minded Community
What is excluded?
  • Race entry fee
  • Travel, accommodation and meals
  • BEXI technical race singlet
Your Investment
Program Early Bird
(ends 22 Dec 2017)
Standard
(23 Dec 2017 onwards)
50km | 42km Race-FIT $460 (3 x $158 p/m) $480 (3 x $165 p/m)
21km Race-FIT $380 (3 x $130 p/m) $400 (3 x $135 p/m)
10km Race-FIT $300 (2 x $155 p/m) $320 (2 x $165 p/m)
* Total cost can be split into monthly installments (incl. admin fee)


SAVE $20 – Register before  Fri 22 Dec 2017! 

 

➣ Thinking about stepping up to a marathon? Be sure to read our blog ‘Ready for a Marathon

3 Reasons to add YOGA to your Weekly Training Program

Nicole Grace completed the Florence Marathon in 2014 – she learnt many lessons along the way. Below is her story…

As a marathon runner I know how important a well-balanced training program needs to be. I have been guilty of over-training, under-recovering and not listening to the warning signs my body was giving me, to the detriment of my health. During the peak of my marathon training I was more concerned about pounding the pavement, interval training and climbing more hills. Replenishing, restoring and nourishing my body (and mind!) was never a priority. Sure, I used to stretch before and after runs and completed the ocassional strength and yoga class – but it wasn’t enough for a well-balanced programme.

Fast forward a few years later, with hindsight on my side and the knowledge I now have as a Yoga Teacher, I have no doubt that if I had included a weekly yoga practice into my training and integrated the tools of yoga into my life, not only would I have been a better athlete, I would still be running today.

Injuries and mental burnout inhibit the athlete’s ability to consistently train and progress. Athletes ranging from novice to elite (across all sporting disciplines) are turning to yoga to offset these challenges.

Below are 3 key reasons that support the benefits of yoga:

  • Physical Benefits
    Endurance athletes spend the majority of their time in the forward moving plane of movement. Runners and cyclists propel their bodies forward through recruitment of the hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core. Swimmers propel their bodies forward through the repetitive movement of rotating the shoulders, utilizing the chest muscles, upper/mid back muscles, and the core. The repetitive nature of these sports (overusing some muscles while underusing others) put the body at risk for muscular imbalances, which could eventually result in injury and poor performance. Yoga restores balance and symmetry to the body, making it the perfect complement to runners and athletes.
  • Mental Benefits
    Endurance sports take an incredible amount of focus, persistence, patience, and adaptability. An athlete can be in the best shape of his or her life, but if on race day their head is not it, neither will their body be. The practice of yoga improves mental focus by utilising both the breath and the body as an anchor for the mind. The practitioner becomes more aware of their own thoughts as they improve their ability to be fully present with their body and breath. Yoga teaches the individual to stay calm, focus, and breathe with whatever shows up on their mat, and athletes can certainly take these skills with them into their sport when the going gets tough.
  • Improved Breathing
    Lung capacity is of prime importance for runners and endurance athletes because it creates the ability to maintain an even breathing pattern through all phases of running. The better the lung capacity, the more oxygen is circulated through the system, which is most helpful for running long and strong. However, the breathing pattern used in running and other forms of aerobic exercise involves quick and shallow inhalations and exhalations. This uses only the top portion of the lungs, leaving the middle and lower portions untouched. Yogic breathing involves slow, deep inhalations and long exhalations, making use of the upper, middle, and lower portions of the lungs. Yogic breathing has been shown to increase lung capacity, and greater lung capacity increases endurance and improves overall athletic performance.

Nicole Grace
Nicole is a Yoga Teacher at Holistic Movement Studio in Collaroy. She is passionate about working with runners and endurance athletes to create a balanced approach to their training.

Resources: Yoga for the Endurance Athlete (Sarah Oliver) | Yoga for Runners (Christine Felstaed)

➺ Click here for details of our 10-week Yoga-FIT program

Surround yourself with Royals

What an absolutely incredible morning!  I feel truly humbled, inspired and motivated – hence the blog.

It started at 6am with our BEXI runners heading off for their Saturday long run training for Blackmores Running Festival. The morning was lighter and the temps were perfect for running – that feeling of Spring was in the air. I parked up at Billarong Reserve to greet our runners with fuel/refreshments for their long run. While waiting I bumped into 2 lovely ladies who were preparing for their long run – they were off to do 32km in training for their Berlin Marathon. Lesley Wilson (Mosman) and Jude O’Shea (Balgowlah).

Obviously we got chatting about Berlin – which then soon became a conversation about all the marathons they have run — New York, Athens, Chicago, London, Boston, etc.  Wow!!! Inspired and energised about all their accomplishments, the conversation rapidly flowed about their experiences with each marathon:

  • New York – the supporters across the various boroughs. Choral singers in Harlem, Hip Hop rappers in the Bronx, silence in the Jewish Quarter.
  • Boston – the bomb going off after Lesley crossed the line. The shock, the bewilderment, the camaraderie of the running community. *
  • Athens – the basic fuel stations (in the early days). From buckets of water to dip into, to sponges soaked in water, to coke. This was Jude’s first marathon – she smashed it in 3.08.
  • London – the amazing atmosphere! Bumping into Will and Kate,  stopping to take selfies. Then having friends send you pics of you taking a selfie with the royals – too funny! (That’s Lesley in the pic to the right.)
  • Kona – Jude turned to triathlon for a while and competed at Kona twice! She then went off to have 4 x children (!), and is now coming back to running – for the enjoyment.

All such humble, passionate, beautiful stories and covered this in a space of 10mins – while warming up. Oh… and the other amazing fact was that Lesley did not know about Narrabeen Lake! This morning was her first run around the lake.

Such a beautiful experience! I love surrounding myself with these amazing people and such an incredible community.

You are…  the people you surround yourself with!

* If you haven’t watched the movie documentary about the Boston bombing – watch it!  

 

Long Course Weekend Jervis Bay – 27-29 Oct 2017

We’re mixing it up at the inaugural Long Course Weekend in Jervis Bay!  You choose the disciplines and the distances over 3 days – Friday swim, Saturday cycle and Sunday run. A great way for friends to train and race together.

The weekend kicks off with the swim on Friday – choose from distances corresponding to triathlons most popular distance – 750m, 1.5km, 1.9km or 3.8km.

On Saturday the focus is the bike ride of undulating countryside – ranging from 20km, 40km, 90km or 180km. Distances to attract athletes of all abilities.

To finish the weekend on Sunday, take on the run following the beautiful coastline of Jervis Bay and Husikisson – 5km, 10km 21.1km or 42.2km. Allowing everyone to be involved.

Training Program

Our 12-week training program offers you a selection of swimming, running and cycling sessions. You will receive a 12-week online program which will include 6 x weekly training sessions. There will be 3 x coached group sessions* and 3 x individual training sessions.

Our coaches are qualified across the sport of triathlon, running, cycling and swimming. Each coach has unique experience in competing in triathlons (across various distances), as well as taking part in the ITU Age-Group World Championships.

(*varies across the weeks)

Weekly Training Timetable (Mon to Sun)

(best viewed on desktop/laptop)

Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday
Individual Training 6:00-7:00am,
Collaroy
6:00-7:00am,
Narrabeen
Individual Training Individual Training 7:00-9:00am,
Terry Hills
8:00-9:00am,
Shelly Beach
Strength Training* Run
(Coached)
Bike Turbo
(Coached)
Swim Squad Run Bike Outdoor
(Coached)
Open Water
(Coached)
Strength training focusing on strengthening muscles and joints, to help improve performance and decrease injury risk.
(*Additional cost.)
12 x coached run session focusing on speed & strength. 12 x coached indoor bike turbo session focusing on speed, strength & stamina. Will also include some brick sessions later in the program. Individual swim session with your local swim squad. Individual run session focusing on distance & endurance. Alternating coached & social sessions:

6 x coached outdoor bike sessions focusing on skills, confidence &  endurance

6 x social rides focusing on disance & endurance.

Mixture of coached & social sessions:

4 x coached open water swim session focusing on skills, confidence & endurance.

8 x social swims focusing on disance & endurance.

(tentative timetable)

What is included?
  • 12-week online training program
  • 12 x coached indoor bike turbo sessions (studio)
  • 12 x coached outdoor run sessions
  • 6 x outdoor bike sessions
  • 5 x open water swim sessions
  • Mental skills and strategies
  • Race nutrition and recovery
  • Race tactics and guidance
  • Analysis and feedback on training data
  • Race weekend logistics
  • Motivational support
  • Access to private online forum
  • Membership of a supportive, like-minded Community

Meet our awesome coaches

What is excluded?
  • Pool swim squad training – you are encouraged to join your own local swim squad
  • Social outdoor swim sessions – you are encouraged to join Shelly Swim Club
  • Social bike rides – you are encouraged to join Northern Suburbs Triathlon Club (NSTC) on Sat 6.30am
  • Race entry fee
  • BEXI Tri-Suit (optional) – orders must be placed by Mon 14 Aug 2017

What gear do I need?

What is cost?
  • 12-week online program
  • 35 x coached sessions
  • $46 p/week across 12-weeks – payable in 3 x $185 monthly instalments (total $555)

Join us for a weekend of fun and mixing it up! 

7-Reasons to love Half-Ironman

If you’ve done a few short distance triathlons and are now itching to step it up to the next distance – the IRONMAN 70.3 is your next challenge. Ironman 70.3 offers half the distance and double the fun!

It is simply the best experience! The training, the inspirational buddies, the journey of ups and downs and the most incredible feeling of crossing the finish line. It takes you to another level!
Michelle Nicholas, IRONMAN 70.3 Cairns 2017 

Below are 7-reasons to go for half this year:

  1. The IRONMAN 70.3 is a friendlier distance – although a challenging step up from the shorter-distances, it is more do-able than the full IRONMAN.
  2. Training for an IRONMAN 70.3 is more manageable than training for a full IRONMAN.
  3. IRONMAN 70.3 events are more spectator-friendly and facilitate more race-day fun.
  4. IRONMAN 70.3 feature wave starts, which is appealing for new triathletes wary of the mass start.
  5. The kudos of having completed an IRONMAN 70.3 is unparalleled.
  6. There are a huge variety of IRONMAN 70.3 races to choose from in some spectacular locations.
  7. The IRONMAN 70.3 merchandise is tops!

Our 16-week IRONMAN 70.3 Western Sydney program is designed for first-time 70.3 athletes.  Based in the awesome setting of the Penrith Lakes, nestled at the base of the stunning Blue Mountains – this program will accomplish you on all levels.

Rise to the IRONMAN 70.3 challenge – training starts on 05 Aug 2017!

Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney – 26 Nov 2017

Have you completed a short-course triathlon? Are you ready to rise to the challenge of a middle-course triathlon? Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney offers an awesome setting in the iconic Penrith Lakes, nestled at the base of the stunning Blue Mountains.  

The 1.9km swim takes place in the International Regatta Centre; the 90km bike course includes breathtaking views of the Blue Mountains; and the 21km flat, scenic run course takes in Penrith’s Nepean River along the Great River Walk. A great location for your first half-ironman.

Training Program

Our 16-week training program is limited to 10 x athletes. Weekly training consists of 3 x coached group sessions* and 3 x individual training sessions. Your training plan will be sent to you each week via Training Peaks – this will include 6 x training sessions.  Each training plan is tailored to fit into your lifestyle – our aim is to balance your training sessions with your day-to-day commitments. (We understand how busy life is.)

Our coaches are qualified across the sport of triathlon, running, cycling and swimming. Each coach has unique experience in competing in triathlons (across various distances), as well as taking part in the ITU Age-Group World Championships.

(*varies across the weeks)

Weekly Training Timetable (Mon to Sun)

(best viewed on desktop/laptop)

Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday
Individual Training 6:00-7:00am,
Collaroy
6:00-7:00am,
Narrabeen
Individual Training Individual Training 7:00-9:00am,
Terry Hills
8:00-9:00am,
Shelly Beach
Strength Training* Run
(Coached)
Bike Turbo
(Coached)
Swim Squad Run Bike Outdoor
(Coached)
Open Water
(Coached)
Strength training focusing on strengthening muscles and joints, to help improve performance and decrease injury risk.
(*Additional cost.)
Coached run session focusing on speed & strength. Coached indoor bike turbo session focusing on speed, strength & stamina. Will also include some brick sessions later in the program. Individual swim session with your local swim squad. Individual run session focusing on distance & endurance. Alternating coached & social sessions:

8 x coached outdoor bike sessions focusing on skills, confidence &  endurance

8 x social rides focusing on disance & endurance.

Mixture of coached & social sessions:

4 x coached open water swim session focusing on skills, confidence & endurance.

12 x social swims focusing on disance & endurance.

(tentative timetable)

MOTIVATION: Read our top ‘7-Reasons to Love IRONMAN 70.3’

What is included?
  • 16-week online training program
  • 16 x coached indoor bike turbo sessions (studio)
  • 16 x coached outdoor run sessions
  • 8 x outdoor bike sessions
  • 6 x open water swim sessions
  • Mental skills and strategies
  • Race nutrition and recovery
  • Race tactics and guidance
  • Analysis and feedback on training data
  • Race weekend logistics
  • Motivational support
  • Access to private online forum
  • Membership of a supportive, like-minded Community
What is excluded?
What is cost?
  • 16-week online program
  • 46 x coached sessions
  • $45 p/week across 16-weeks – payable in 4 x $180 monthly instalments (total $720)

Meet our awesome coaches

INSPIRATIONAL BLOG!
Read how BEXI Triathlete, Michelle Nicholas, fulfilled her dream of completing IRONMAN 70.3 Cairns 2017:

I had dreamt and visualised that finish shoot for one year – it finally came true. The journey from start to finish was worth every sacrifice. I was an Ironman 70.3!”

 

Rise to the challenge of Ironman 70.3 – join our BEXI Tri-FIT team

If you are not ready for the Ironman 70.3 distance, then why not join as a team – or join our Long Course Weekend program?

Ironman 70.3 Cairns – My Journey

On Sunday 11 June 2017, BEXI triathlete Michelle Nicholas became an Ironman 70.3. This is her inspirational story:

It is simply the best experience! The training, the inspirational buddies, the journey of ups and downs and the most incredible feeling of crossing the finish line. It takes you to another level!

I wanted to do an Ironman for around 20 years. When my eldest, Gemma, completed the Coolangatta Gold at 16yrs-old, I felt inspired to get fit and focus on myself again.

I signed up for Beauty of Exercise’s beginner triathlon program last year (2016) and completed my first sprint triathlon. After that I was hooked and started dreaming of completing an Ironman 70.3.  I signed-up a year out and starting surrounding myself with the right people. My coach, Debbie Solms, was fully on-board and excited for me. My BEXI buddies were amazing – even though they weren’t doing the event, they still committed to train with me.

I truly didn’t think I was capable and leading up to Cairns I was very nervous and worried that I would let myself down and my BEXI buddies down if I didn’t make it.

The weekend was awesome! My gorgeous BEXI buddy and lovely friend Monique, travelled to Cairns to support me.  The day before the race we went to the swim/bike transition and sat in a beautiful restaurant in Palm Cove enjoying a healthy meal, looking out at the swim course and feeling mentally prepared. Monique was a calming presence who kept my mind off the race and we spent the afternoon laughing lots. I loved that day.
___

Race day I got up at 3.15am, my bus to the swim start was 4am. Preparing for a full day on the course, I rubbed sunscreen on my body… only to realise that my race number tattoos were never go to stick. Lucky for permanent markers!
____

A few friends came to find me at the start to wish me good luck. I felt special that they’d woken early and made the effort to see me. The swim was fantastic, dark and murky in the water, but with the rolling start I didn’t feel like I was fighting my way through the crowd. I had a great rhythm from the start and I never once thought anything negative.

I couldn’t believe I was actually doing this and I was really loving it.

____
I started the bike with the biggest smile on my face. The hills were longer and harder than I had imagined but I took it in my stride and did my best. Turning around at Port Douglas was a highlight, as I realised I made the cut-off time!  This enabled me to enjoy my race.
 ____
Shortly after disaster struck!  My gears jammed and I was restricted to using the small chain ring for the rest of the ride.  I was slow but I was never going to give up!  I finished the ride in under 4hours which I quietly wanted to do (but didn’t think I was capable of). Monique was waiting for me at the bike finish which gave me a good chance to have a giggle and a quick chat.
 ____
I set off on the run and my legs felt like lead weights for the first 5km.  The crowd along the run course were so very supportive and yelled my name like I was their best friend, it was a great pick me up when I needed it.  The run isn’t my strong leg, I was negative towards myself and didn’t like that I was so very slow – but I finished (finally) and the elation of the finish shoot was worth every single slow step. It was worth every sacrifice I had to make in training for this event.
 ____
That finish shoot I had dreamed and visualised for one year, finally came true. The journey from start to finish was worth every sacrifice. I was an Ironman 70.3! 
Photo credit: Delly Carr
TAKE ON THE IRONMAN 70.3 CHALLENGE OR MIX-IT UP!

If you would like to take on the IM70.3 challenge or mix it up, then join our BEXI team as we train for IRONMAN70.3 Western Sydney and the Long Course Weekend.

It takes just 8-Steps

Manifesting what we want in life is not as daunting as we think. We often fill our minds with negative talk which convinces us that our dream is not possible. At the same time, when we fill ourselves with positive talk, positive things happen.

All it takes is just 8 steps:

  • Set a goal – without a goal we have no direction. With no direction we’ll go nowhere. Be clear of what we want – write it down and remind ourselves daily of what we want.
  • Gratitude – feel grateful for what we have now. Our health, our family, our friends, where we live. We will realise we are already blessed and this will drive us to want to achieve.
  • Believe – once we are clear about what we want and believe that we can achieve our goal, the universe will conspire to make it happen.
  • Visualise – image that we have already achieved our dream. Focus on how good it feels to cross the finish line –  to become a 5km runner, a marathoner, a triathlete. This will bring our dream closer to us.
  • Affirm it – affirm our intentions daily, as if the event has already happened. This will bring our dream even more closer to us.
  • Stay positive – we attract what we put out there, so look for the positive in everything. Positive thinking attracts positive energy. Positive energy attracts positive people.
  • Take action – once our intention is clear, we will receive inspiration from those around us. Feed off the inspiration and we will blossom.
  • Meditate – a daily meditation practice will connect us with ourselves on a deeper level, as well as with the universe. This is when the magic happens!

By incorporating the above steps into our thinking, we will start to see the magic happening in our life. Give it a try!

Positive thinking evokes more energy, more initiative and more happiness!

Upcoming dates to diarise:
– 08 Jul Blackmores 10km Bridge Run – 10-wk training program
– 17 Jul Term 3, 2017 – commences
– 05 Aug NEW! Tri-FIT Long  Course Weekend – 12-wk training program (coming soon)
– 05 Aug NEW! Ironman Western Sydney 70.3 – 16-wk training program (coming soon)
– 25 Aug NEW! Delicious Daily Dinners – 3hr Cooking Workshop (coming soon)

It takes all of you!

It inspired me, it overwhelmed me, it humbled me, it took all of me! The spirit of the Comrades Marathon.

On Sunday 4th June 2017, I had the enormous privilege of standing on the start line of the Comrades Marathon 2017.  It was an absolute dream-come-true. As a kid growing up in South Africa, I was brought up having a huge appreciation for this race. Every year the race was televised from the start to the finish – 12hrs+ of viewing – the South African nation was caught up in the grips of the Comrades fever. I was in awe of the runners who took part and had a huge respect for each and every one of them.

At 5am on the 4th June 2017, I was huddled in my starting chute with my gorgeous hubby, Martin, and good friends Sue & Richard Ollerhead. It was dark, the atmosphere was electric – combination of nerves and excitement – lots of people rushing to get into their starting chutes… and then the singing started. The entire field of 20k runners were singing Shosholoza and the South African national anthem – it truly brought a lump to my throat. This was followed by the music of Chariots of Fires (again, very emotional), then the iconic Max Tribold’s Cock Crow…. and bang, the start gun at 5.30am. And we were off!

I can recall the entire experience step-by-step, but will save that for another post. Instead, I wanted to share a few (of the many) special moments that truly touched me:

  • As a South African brought up in the apartheid era, I was completely humbled by the spirit of the Comrades. Blacks, whites, nationals, internationals – everyone was united by the raw emotion of the Comrades. Throughout the entire day, the 20k field of runners were cheering and supporting each other along the way. No matter who you were and where you came from, we were all equal – united in this beautiful sport.
  • The support on the day is second to none. There are crowds of supporters from start to finish – the entire 88km. Singing, dancing, cheering, calling out your name, handing you food, drinks, spraying you with water – creating the most amazing atmosphere! You truly felt like an elite runner competing in the Olympics.
  • The organisation of the race is on par with the Olympics. It is flawless! From pre-race registration, the ongoing communication, international ambassadors for each country, race registration, expo, hospitality, logistics, refreshments every 2km, choice of refreshments, pacing buses, entertainment, medals, photos, etc. All international runners, together with their supporters, had access to an international tent at the finish where they were served food and drinks all day. It was position right next to the finish line – so truly amazing for our families/supporters.
  • On the Friday before the race, I joined the international athlete course tour. Part of the tour was to visit the Ethembeni School for the Disabled – one of the Comrades official charities. As the bus stopped, the children we waiting for us with welcome signs for each country. Despite being faced with adversity, these children had the biggest smiles on their faces. They sang and danced for us and gave us each a beautiful, hand-made beaded bracelet. The colours of the bracelet were those of the Comrades Marathon and Ethembeni School, and consisted of 88 x beads – one for each km of the race. There was hardly a dry eye in the audience.
  • After the tour I was hanging out in the hotel lobby. Sitting next to me was a young African runner who was chilled and relaxed. His buddies came to join him and sat down for a cup of tea. There was much excitement in their conversation (in Zulu/Xhosa). At one stage I overheard them talking about their race pace of 3.50-4.00/km. I looked over at them and asked if they were planning to run the race at that pace. They all laughed and their coach asked me if I knew who they were. They were the gold-medal runners! (Ludwick Mamabolo finished 4th in 5:42; and Sphiwe Ndlela 6th in 5:45.) Truly humble and super-friendly gentlemen.

Two weeks later and I am still on a high. This event is without doubt one of the most rewarding races I have ever done! Now to consider returning next year for the ‘Back-to-Back’ medal…

It was tough, for sure… but that’s what makes finishing all the more sweeter.

Below are a few low-res pics taken on the day… enjoy! 

If we always do what we know we can do, we never grow…