A new perspective

Kirsty Grobler

After being in Lockdown, which seems to be forever, some dreams and goal have had to be put on hold. 2020 was supposed to have been the start of reaching my dreams, my plan was to run The Two Oceans Marathon that year and then go on to run the Comrades Marathon in 2021. However, the universe had other ideas.

After being injured I was unable to qualify for the Two Oceans Marathon up until the very last qualifying race, which was the Deloittes Marathon (no pressure). I really did not have a good day out there, I fought hard because I was adamant that I was going to qualify. With only a few minutes to spare, I crossed the finish line and qualified! I was broken, but I had done it and so I was one step closer to making my dream come true. Whilst sitting at the Stella tent after the race, with a happy heart knowing I had qualified, I was told that the Two Oceans Marathon had been cancelled due to Covid-19. I honestly thought that they were joking, I had fought so hard to finish the race and to qualify only for it to be cancelled. I felt so defeated. Lots of negative thoughts went through my mind but once I had time to process everything, I realized that I had gained so much from running the Deloittes Marathon. I learnt so much about myself on that day and I am forever grateful.

Shortly after, South Africa was placed in total Lockdown. Running and exercising (outside of your home) was prohibited. Some decided to not let this dampen their spirits and created a running circuit in their gardens. Running in circles, some creating distinct pathways in the process and then changing direction for a bit of variety (I think some gardens are yet to recover). Some may call them crazy… well, we are runners after all.

Although this was a set back, it gave my body time to heal and recover from all the niggles. Eventually we were allowed to run again, but with restrictions, having to run with a mask or buff, making sure you were socially distanced and only being allowed to run between 6am – 9am. I was just happy to be out on the road again, even if it was just within a 5km radius from home.

As time went on, restrictions were eased and we were allowed club runs again. It was so awesome to see all the Stella Stars again. It really made many hearts happy.

Fast forward a few months and going up and down Lockdown levels like a yo-yo, all races, including Comrades Marathon 2020 were cancelled. There was so much uncertainty as to when or if we would be able to run our next race. With motivation and morals running low, we all needed a ‘pick me up’. Just when we thought it was all doom and gloom and that races would be a thing of the past and a distant memory, virtual races were born. Even though it was not the same as a real race, it gave us purpose and boosted our moral. We now had something to train for. YAY!!

We all had our hopes up that by some miracle Comrades 2021 was going to go ahead. Unfortunately, this was not to be and it was cancelled again. In spite of this, the organizers decided to create a virtual race (as they had done the previous year) with various distances. So, a few of us novices decided to get a taste of what we would be getting ourselves into when we got to tackle the Comrades Marathon. We decided to enter the 45km race and oh boy, did we get a taste!!

The route was planned. We would start and finish at Stokers Arms in Kloof and run part of the Comrades route, to the top of Inchanga and back, giving us the experience of a few of the iconic hills. It was the Comrades Centenary Hope Challenge after all…

As the days grew closer to race day, I still did not feel as though I was about to run the furthest I have ever gone, never mind about to conquer those famous hills. I think one thing that Covid-19 has taught me, is to be flexible and be able to take things in my stride. So, my goal was to go out there, enjoy the day out on the road, do my best and take things as they come. And I did just that!

Arriving at Stokers Arms and seeing our fellow Stella Stars, which included many experienced runners and a few novices, was thrilling. It defiantly got the butterflies going. A very passionate Stella Star got everyone’s blood pumping by playing Chariots of Fire and the National Anthem. I can’t wait to be able to experience ‘the real thing’ with them at the start line one day.

5:30am came and we were off. Being surrounded by a few of my favourite Stella Stars was incredible. It was a brilliant day on the road for me, however, it wouldn’t have been possible without the support from our fellow Stella members, manning water tables, supporting us on the side of the road and of course my number one fan 😊. Without them, this day would not have been a success. To see those happy faces and hear those words of encouragement were always well received. So, I thank you on behalf of all of us who ran.

I have always had a huge amount of respect for those who not only complete Comrades, but also those who are there at the start line waiting for the run to go off. However, I now have newfound respect for you all. I now also understand why everyone knows those hills by name, they are a real test mentally and physically. Although I had to dig deep and give myself a few pep talks (we all need a good talking to from time to time) I thoroughly enjoyed my day out there. What an amazing experience.

Although I have not reached my goals and dreams just yet, I have made some new goals along the way. I will never give up and will continue to strive to achieve what I have set out to conquer. Cheers to everyone who is going out there and making their dreams come true, despite the curve balls that have been thrown your way.

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