It was a big win for the UKZN team at Comrades.

Suffering and Triumph for UKZN Comrades Marathon Runners

It was both ecstasy and agony for UKZN staff and students who participated and finished the grueling 2018 Comrades Marathon which can be described by some as 90,184km of pure torture; but well worth it in the end as one savours the sweet fruit of their victory after months of intense preparation.

A group of 30 men and women from UKZN participated in this year’s Marathon which took place on Sunday, 10 June 2018. This year’s race, which was a down-run, kicked off at the Pietermaritzburg City Hall at 5h30, finishing in Durban at 17h30. Staff and students from the University abandoned the comfort of their beds; heading to the race route in the early hours of the morning to support their colleagues and peers through cheers and refreshments.

It was a big win for UKZN as Mr Nhlanhla Nzama, UKZN alumni who still runs under the University’s banner, received a silver medal after finishing the race in 7 hours and 22 minutes, as well as a Bill Rowan medal. Introduced in 2000, the Bill Rowan medal was named after the winner of the first Comrades Marathon in 1921. The time limit for this medal was inspired by Rowan’s winning time in 1921 of 8hrs 59min.

UKZN Team Leader, Sanele Mbambo who is a student, said the main challenge was the chilly weather at the starting point in Pietermaritzburg. He said the cold temperature negatively affected the runners as cold exposure impacts muscle performance. ‘I however felt revived as I passed the UKZN station,’ said Mbambo, who added that this feeling however quickly diminished for as he made his way past the old finish line (Kingsmead Cricket Stadium) to the new one (Moses Mabhida Stadium) as the distance in km had slightly increased.

For Mr Tony Singarum, UKZN staff member and 22-time Comrades runner, the 2018 race had some unfortunate events for him as he experienced stomach discomfort early in the race. After a heated 70-kilometer run, he decided to call it quits. ‘The staff of Corporate Relations, together with our students, did a splendid job by taking care of the runners’ needs on the route and must be commended for their hard work on the day,’ said Singarum, whilst urging the UKZN community at large to participate in the marathon event, whether through running or being an onsite supporter.

Words: Nokubonga Nomasiko Jele

Photographs: Albert Hirasen