Anneke Barnard, faculty librarian for Humanities recently ran 90,18 km from Pietermaritzburg to the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.


The 49-year-old marathon enthusiast was participating in the Comrades Marathon as a tribute to her husband, Attie and nephew, Leon who have both been diagnosed with cancer.

Faculty librarian for Humanities Anneke Barnard recently ran the Comrades Marathon in 10 hours and 15 minutes.

All roads lead to the Comrades


Prior to this year’s Comrades, Anneke and Attie had completed four Comrades Marathons together. The couple had been training to compete together again this year when Attie was diagnosed with stomach cancer in January.


“I did not know what lay ahead after his diagnosis, so I decided not to take part in the ultra-marathon,” says Anneke. Still, she kept on running with her friend Lee as a way to keep fit and relieve stress. “Attie encouraged me to take part in the Comrades without him, so at the end of April I finally decided that I would go through with it.”


That is when Anneke decided to run the Comrades as a tribute to her husband and her nephew Leon, who has been battling with cancer for a long time. She trained even harder with Lee, because they were both going to run the Comrades together.


An unforgettable experience


Anneke managed to complete her fifth Comrades Marathon in 10 hours and 15 minutes. Looking back, the hardest part was the training and finding the time for it between a full-time job and caring for Attie and the family.


The last 15 km of the race were really hard for her because her legs were starting to ache, but she kept reminding herself of the reason she started in the first place. “One of the best memories of the entire race was seeing Attie at the Toyota Mile, just before the finish line. I gave him a sweaty hug and made my way to the line,” she says.


Anneke says she always feels emotional just before the race begins. Standing there with about 19 000 other excited athletes, singing “Shosholoza” and the National Anthem, and then waiting for “Chariots of Fire” to start playing, never fails to bring her to tears. This year she shed more tears than usual because Attie was not beside her.