NWU athletes conquer Comrades
The sweat ran in streams, their legs were buckling under them and every grain of perseverance was stretched to the limit for 89 km. However, for 15 athletes from the North-West University (NWU) sweet reward awaited: being able to say “I completed the 2012 Comrades marathon.”
Messrs James Botha, Fanie Swanepoel, Cliff Wallace, Koos Degenaar, Henro Erasmus, Kaizer Phakathi, Willie Lubbe, Ockie de Kock, Werner Coetzee, Ettiene Pretorius, Stefan Pienaar, Jaco Barnard, Ms Hilde Kemp, Ms Erichia Nel, and Ms Rika Huyser were all able to drag their weary bodies over the finish line before cut-off.
If not for a pulled calf muscle, Mr Paul Harmse’s name would also have been on the list.
Jaco Barnard finished the route in the fastest time of 07:23:37.
This year, athletes took on the ‘down’ race, which includes the gruelling Botha’s Hill. It is a well-known fact that this route from Pietermaritzburg to Durban with its many hills and inclines plays havoc with athletes’ legs.
Fields Hill, approximately 10 km from Hillcrest, is a gruelling 3 km downward challenge and in Drummond, at the halfway mark, there’s a steep incline that pushes participants to the limit.
“I forgot just how tough it is!” says Henro Erasmus, a senior lecturer in Accountancy on the Potchefstroom Campus.
The 31-year old Henro finished his second Comrades in a time of 09:59:47. According to him, Cowie’s Hill (approximately 18 km before the finish line) presented the biggest challenge. "With 35 km to go, things started to become very difficult – probably because I wasn’t as fit as the previous time. 25 km before the finish line I developed cramps and started to feel dizzy. I told myself that I had to make it to the 10 km mark, because from there I could walk and still finish in time. The support from the spectators was incredible. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it is true."
Henro set himself a goal of 10 hours and made it with just 13 seconds to spare.
However, the race did take its toll. "My legs were terribly sore the next day, and I could scarcely stand up! But I feel better now."
Asked whether he would do it again in future, he responded: "You know, while I was running I promised myself that I’d never do it again. But now, three days later, I know that I definitely will."
Mr Willie Lubbe finished the Comdares with a time of 07:38:56. Willie runs for the NWU Pukke.