Inspiration and Motivation

Stella hosts Walking Clinic with Natalie le Roux

By Sharon Troll

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Early Saturday morning a bunch of eager walkers from as far as Hilton attended the Walking Clinic given by Natalie le Roux.

She shared her truely inspirational life story, some of her future goals, nutrition, how to train for a race and a little bit about KZN Masters Athletics before taking us through the warm up routine. Boy was that difficult!!! ‘Pulling the line from your navel’, ‘rocking the baby’, ‘loosening those hips’ and ‘activating the shins’ made us all look at bit silly, but we soon saw the benefits of all these movements.

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After a few stretching exercises we walked up to Bulwer Park where Natalie explained how we should approach the up hills and downhills, and some other techniques. We did a couple of rounds in the park showing off our new moves.

The clinic was enjoyed by all and several walkers showed interest in future events. So watch this space.

Thanks to Natalie for sharing your knowledge in such a humble way. 

Thanks to Jodi Pastorino from KZNMA for joining us.

Thanks to Stella Athletic Club for hosting the clinic.

Thanks to Michael Mostert who took the initiative in asking for a donation towards the Elders Voice and thanks to everyone who gave from the heart.

I’ll end with a very appropriate saying coming from our own Frankie…

WALK WITH PURPOSE!!

The Flip side of Comrades

By: Sandy Mullins

9 June has come and gone, and many participants have positive experiences to share of their Comrades journey. Being at the Aches and Pains Braai afterwards was a testimony to the fact as runners hobbled around in their Comrades shirts, proudly displaying their hard-earned medals and sharing all their experiences. Each one deserving the limelight and soaking it up.

I hid behind my phone taking photos, so happy for our Stella Stars but wishing I was also experiencing the euphoria of the weekend. But in truth, all I wanted to do was flee to my bed and sob my heart out. For me, it was the utter disappointment of another DNF. Life is quite seriously unfair. 

I was so ready for this day. I could tick off all the necessary requirements of a safe finish. I’d trained with discipline and didn’t hesitate to run and clock up 1300k’s of mileage. I was injury free; head was in the right space and I was eager to show the up run I was able to respectfully conquer. I took all the necessary precautions of not getting sick (Bactroban up the nose, throat spray, hand sanitizer and a dozen vitamins). It was a green light all the way until the Monday before Comrades! I picked up a gastro virus and puked my lungs out. I went to the doctor hoping to sort it out immediately. He gave me a jab for fever and nausea and tabs to take which would, with any luck sort me out in time. 

When I lined up at the Durban City Hall, I was feeling great. I had slept surprisingly well and was as calm and relaxed as could be. We set off and at first; I thought it was unusually warm. But by the time we were heading up Cowies, I said to my running mates, that I felt like I was overheating – the steam was coming from my head. Anyway, upwards we went, and I enjoyed the atmosphere in territory where you are guaranteed of seeing someone you know on the side of the road. It buoys you, and that friendly word of encouragement just spurs you on. I was still on track and despite feeling a bit bilious, I was okay. The Stella tables along the way were great and I got my replenishing Gu’s and Rehydrats to continue. At Inchanga I picked up my Crampnot, took it and left the table thinking, right this is progress – I have passed the spot I had to pull off two years ago. I had hardly started moving when the first cramps hit me like a bolt of lightning. No, this couldn’t be happening, not now in no man’s land! Harrison Flats is a desolate stretch at the best of times, but to have a problem was not ideal. My cramps came regularly in each calf and the left leg right up the inner thigh. It was excruciating. I felt like I was a Jewish slave in the Biblical times of the Pharaohs and a slave driver was whipping my legs shouting SUFFER! No God, this wasn’t meant to happen this way, we were doing this together! The more I tried to move, the more severe the cramps came. One young man from Tzaneen tried to assist by releasing the tension in my legs and would walk with me and help again. Eventually I told him to go as he was looking for his wife so he could pull out. As I hobbled along I realised I was in trouble, with another 30k’s to go and the Crampnot was not working, I didn’t see much option. Unfortunately, I hopped on to a baler bus – my race was over. Could I have gone further? Should I have waited? Why didn’t I try harder? Why was I the one plagued with a virus which had obviously not taken its tentacles off me? I had done a long training run of the same distance and not cramped once, so I knew it wasn’t anything but this bug. 

At the time I was okay with my decision and went to wait for Sean, David, Thanesh and John at Lion Park, with our Stella table – the selfless Sue Bezuidenhout and Vanessa Botha. I had made a friend on the bus and she also hopped out there to wait for her friends to collect her. We could not have stopped at a better spot, an oasis in the desert. We were given warm jackets, drink upon drink to try and quench an unquenchable thirst. They fussed over us and the other runners coming past. It was good for me to see my running mates and encourage them on, though they were all heartbroken to see me at the side of the road. 

A week later, having rehashed THAT day over and over again, I am coming to terms with it. I have been humbled, but I am not out. Is it such a big deal? Actually, YES – when you have invested half a year of sacrifice, and not only your time and all that goes with it, but my dear husband’s as well. Sean had backed me to the hilt, and it was just as much a team effort as it was my run! 

I know I am not alone in this experience and many can relate in one way or another. It is character building (I think I have enough character now!!) and we can only hope to inspire each one to achieve the goals they have set – whether it be a Park Run or Comrades, it’s to remain focused and all being well, we learn and grow. I will pick myself up out of the dust and I will return to run and complete the race, to attain the goal I have set for myself.

Stella Accolades

By Sandy Mullins

Stella is a club of many talented athletes, and in varying degrees, not necessarily in speed, but also in endurance, grit, stickability and character. Often achievements are made and they fly under the radar. So my aim is to acknowledge our Stars by highlighting their achievements and giving credit where credit is due. If you know of someone who you feel needs to be recognised, please send me a mail and we can honour our Stars. It could be coming “first” in your personal race against time, or achieving a goal that ticks off a bucket list. Or it could be the support and encouragement given to runners that makes this individual shine.  It will take time but we will do our best to make sure you do your best!

To kick-start the Accolades, here are a couple of Stars that have made an impact this year.


Stars to the Rescue!

By Sandy Mullins

Not every run planned goes according to plan! Saturday 23rd of Feb 2019, was one such run. A training run from the club had been planned, a tough Cowies Hill and back 32k, which under normal circumstances is challenging to say the least. We arrive at the club before 5:00 and start ambling up the road gearing up for the challenge. As we look up in the dawn light, a chap on a bicycle comes past us and we see Clay Bonorchis running towards us – shouting and gesticulating to the group to stop that guy – he’s just hijacked that bike off a mature cyclist doing an early morning ride. The next minute, Julian Robert followed by Clay go hurtling off, giving chase that would have given Usain Bolt a run for his money. The rest of us stunned, are not quite sure what to do now. Do we wait; do we carry on and hope that our two brave idiots are okay and catch up? We decided to continue slowly. About 4ks down, Kevin Hendrikse phoned Gabriel, our car guard at the club to find out if Clay and Julian had returned. They had and he told Clay to join us at 45th cutting if they were up to it. 

What had transpired was that they managed to catch up to the thief and eventually retrieved the bicycle, though the badly stunned crook managed to get away. They then took the bike to the club and gave it to the cyclist with a stern admonition from Clay. After having done a world record 2k’s or so – these two gents still proceeded to run up to Cowies and caught up with us! Absolute respect for our heroes – who did not hesitate to help in a time of need! 


Sam Mkhonto 

By Sandy Mullins

There are so many Stella members who fly under the radar, yet contribute so much to Stella. One amazing man is Sam Mkhonto, who has been running with the club for many years. He is over 60 and has ten Comrades under his belt, his best time being 8:51 and still continues to run credible times. But what is special about this gentleman is the encouragement he gives to other runners. Every week you see him and a few other athletes training in the park. At club runs, he comes alongside aspiring athletes and gently gives them advice and reinforcement. I went through a bad patch one year, and while running one day, this gentle presence came alongside me and gave me tips and pushed me through, when I was feeling as flat as a pancake. I know many have been touched by his encouragement. His passion for Stella and the runners is noticeable. Sam – you are a star of note and deserve to be recognised!

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Sharon Troll

By Sandy Mullins

This quiet, unassuming lady is a walker of note. She is part of the walking squad, though is quite able to run too!

In March this year, Sharon attended the KZN Masters Champs 5000 meter track events. On the Friday evening, she came second in her age category for the 5k walk in a time of 33:57, and to top it all, the next day did the 10k walk in 1:14, receiving silver medals for both events. 

Well done Sharon – you are a champ!!b03ac321-6d4b-4d60-8a43-784daab9aecf.jpg


Michael Mostert

By Dave Beattie

Mike Mostert is the epitome of a big man with a big heart. Not only is he our Walking Road Captain, but he is also the person who champions walking at club, race and league level. Nothing is too much effort for Mike and you will always see him in the middle of his gaggle of walkers. He is the person to whisper encouragement into a new walker’s ear and push his protégés to be the best that they can be.  He is certainly quick with a chirp and similarly fast on his feet. Mike is innovative in his training methods and is not scared to try and convert seasoned runners to the walking discipline. The Stella walking team would not have achieved the league wins that they have had without his excellent leadership, drive and encouragement. Mike is a great guy and huge asset to the club. 

Michael compressed

Two Oceans Race Report

By: Spencer-Rae Kerr

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It’s a chilly morning and still dark. Somehow, by fluke, we got a last minute Air BnB booking for a flat right by the start, so I do not have to cater for any travel time. I listen from my bed as the commentator reprimands the 21k runners for dawdling. “Come on 21’s; you are losing time!”, he repeats desperately. Either everyone is on a go-slow, or the traffic was terrible this morning. The 21k runners are let off in their seeding batches at 10-minute intervals.

The Ultra starts at 6:40. I walk out of the building at 6:35 and along the pedestrian walkway. Metal barricades separate me from a densely packed group of runners who are brimming with nervous energy. I’m in E batch, and I’m in no rush because all I need to do is to get to the end of the barricade and onto the road behind the other runners. I’m imagining the commentator reprimanding me, “come on 56’s, you are losing time!” but he doesn’t, and I am not, because the 56km runners all start at the same time and I know it’s going to take a while to get going. I get to where I need to be and think over my strategy. I remind myself not to go out too fast – 56km is a long way!

The gun goes off, and we begin. Those nearer to the front, anyway. After a short while, there are hints of movement, but I am right at the back so mostly I just wait. Suddenly we are in herd mode – shuffling, bumping, pushing, falling. Slowly at first, then faster.

Strikes on Chapman’s peak mean the route is different this year and that we will run over Ou Kaapse Weg instead of Chappies. I’m sad because it’s my first Two Oceans, and I am missing one of the most iconic features of the race. It’s more ‘One Ocean One Mountain’ this year. But I’m grateful to be running regardless, and the reserve is beautiful.

We are picking up momentum now as we run down Main Road.  There is a slight drizzle, and it’s quite refreshing. It’s perfect weather for a PB, but today won’t be one of mine. We cruise through Wynberg and Plumstead, and I have to keep reminding myself not to go too fast. The road is straight for a long time, and we run past clusters of locals who cheer us on from the roadside. Some volunteers hand us sachets of water and Powerade. There are a few older folk on their stoeps, with Afrikaans pop music blaring in the background. It’s pretty early to be drinking, but that doesn’t seem to bother them, and they raise their glasses to us as we run past.

After about 17km, we wind around the corner onto a coastal section of road, and Muizenburg beach comes into sight. The rain has cleared a bit, and it’s a beautiful day. Longboarders hustle in the crowded surf as I bump into runners on the narrow street. I’m daydreaming now about surfing back at home, where the water is not so cold.

We hug the coastline and enjoy the ocean breeze as we wind around Trappies Kop and through Kalk Bay. Some musicians serenade us from their garage as we run past. They are carelessly playing their guitars and singing, and it’s a great distraction. A little further along I become aware of the houses built up against the hillside. A lady is dancing on the second floor of her home. Two Oceans spectators sit with drinks in hand on chairs on the balcony’s of neighbouring houses. Everyone is in a great mood! I can’t help but smile. This is South Africa at its best!

We run past some sea-facing shops at Fishhoek. Someone is playing a Beatenberg song from a PA system that has been set up on the roadside. At about 22km, we turn inland onto the M65. We wind through Sun Valley and prepare to face our demons. Ou Kaapse Weg is just ahead!

Up we go, first fast, then slow. The chatter dies down. It’s time to ‘dig deep’. Some runners have backpacks with Bluetooth speakers and shamelessly blast their favourite tracks to themselves and anyone else who will listen. The buses clog the road, and I get reprimanded by officials when I move outside of the beacons to try and overtake them. The camber only gets worse the higher up we go, and my legs burn.

We are in the nature reserve now, and there are no more water sachets. We get cups here instead, and there are large troughs to throw them into after we have used them. Suddenly everyone is a conservationist!  Amazingly, almost every single person complies, and I wonder why we can’t adopt the same attitude for the entire race, or any other road race.

Near the top of Ou Kaapse Weg, a lady shouts, “it’s just around the corner”, I reply that “it’s a very long corner” because it doesn’t look like we are going to be around anything any time soon. Eventually, we do crest the hill, and I take a few moments to take in the view and check in with myself before meandering down the other side.

We run past Pollsmoor Prison and a few water tables. At 40km we are in Tokai Forest. They’ve made some cool temporary water pipe contraptions to fill cups from, and I am enjoying the shade from all the trees. It’s a gradual, pleasant climb and then a steady flattish section through Fir Grove and Sillery.

At 46 km, just 10km before the end, we are reminded of the torment of Ou Kaapse Weg. We begin climbing up Southern Cross Drive towards Rhodes drive, and my legs are burning again. Most people are walking now and I turn away as a lady to my left bends over to be ill. I’m telling myself it’s “just two park runs to go”, and I keep running. That is if you could call it running. In reality, I am just ‘Madiba-shuffling’ up a hill at a rate slightly faster than the walkers. Exhausted, we reach Rhodes Drive and are presented with a short descent to recover on. People are holding signs that say things like, ‘you are running better than the government’. I enjoy this, because I know that I am not running well, and still that sign is true.

A few more ups and downs and we descend onto the UCT field. I use the last bit of my energy to speed up. I want to finish strong. I’ve had fun, but I am ready to sink a couple of cokes and pass out on a patch of grass somewhere. I am tired, and my body hurts, but I am in high spirits! Two Oceans did not disappoint. I will be back for you Chappies.

The Running Race!

By: Sandy Mullins

There is nothing quite like the homosapien species called the “athlete”! There are sub species in this category who hit the pavements, roads, and earthy terrain to “move it, move it”, namely the walker, runner and cyclist. They will get up at a ridiculous time – before the birds have decided to open their beaks, and lace up, leave the comfort of Duvet Street and move at a considerable pace along the streets and byways for a few hours, clicking up the kilometres (which is then beeped on the watch to the computer and downloaded to  record the mileage and rake up points!).

The beauty about the athlete is that it knows no boundaries. The love of the sport unites young and old, the doctor, the baker, the candlestick maker, and total strangers greet each other in passing, because they recognise the dedication and the unvoiced respect for what they are achieving. I remember running on the beachfront one morning with one of my race T-shirts on. A guy running in the opposite direction in a similar shirt smiled at me and the telepathy was – “I know what you went through to earn that T!”  

The bonds that are built along the road is strong. You might not know each other from a bar of soap, yet you can talk the same language. You share the pain, the anguish of injury or sickness, but delight in the achievements and goals reached, however great or small. Its not generally a selfish sport. What one gleans from one, is passed on to another to encourage and build and to see personal bests achieved. Its thanks to the selfless input of those in the know that has got me to places I would never have dreamt possible.

It is not necessarily a glamorous pastime. One sees each other at the worst, still with sleep in one’s eyes, hair amok, moods subdued or grumpy.  Not everyone looks like a super model in running gear. And when the need to go to the loo arises on the road… well put it this way, we would never dream that the bush could be such heaven! Its funny when you see runners in the mall all dressed for the day, how you almost don’t recognise them!

Seconders rate extremely high on my respect list. They get up with us to cart us around, provide for our needs on the way, and give us the rebuke or encouragement we need to get us going again. And don’t forget all the photos they take of us to record our amazing feats! Many have pulled me through some of the toughest challenges in my running career. Again total strangers come to the rescue. Comrades 2016, I was coming down Fields Hill having lost my electrolyte potions along the way, and the inevitable cramps kicked in – both calves. I looked like a ballerina on points – gone wrong! Two lovely spectators came running up and asked how they could help. I leant on one while the other helped undo the spasms. I really thought my race was over. Thanks to them I hobbled down towards Pinetown. Just then another runner doing his 9th came along side me and gave me a packet of the same electrolytes I had been taking. He told me to take two every half hour and then carried on his way to his green number. I tried to remember his name on his vest but to this day, I will never know who he is, but he saved my race and I was able to complete the challenge. Comradeship at its best. It is humbling.

So to all these crazy characters who make this world an interesting, better place – I salute you! Keep moving forward and run the race that is set before us – this is a paradigm of life!

End of Year Message from the Chairman

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Greetings to all Stella Members,

So ends another extremely busy and successful year for Stella Athletic Club. In terms of judging the success of the year I have looked at the following criteria:

  • The achievement of goals by the club and athletes
  • The numbers of athletes who have signed up as members
  • The number of athletes who are active at races
  • The number of athletes who participate in the monthly Club Time Trial and the Time Trial league
  • The number of members who participate in club and fundraising events
  • The success of the annual Stella Royal 10 / 25 km race
  • Being innovative in the athletics space (i.e. trail runs)

In times where road running appears to be going through a bit of a slump in terms of the number of events being put on and a shortage of sponsors, Stella AC appears to be going from strength to strength.  Our numbers are growing and most importantly the majority of these new members are actively involved in our weekly activities. We must be doing something right as we are also approached at most races to ask how people can join our awesome club. This will only happen if the Stella members are good ambassadors on the road and in the community. The spirit of our athletes during and after races is unparalleled. This was particularly evident at the recent Illovo Sugar Christmas Run. I was so proud to be a Stella member.

It has been particularly heart-warming to see the commitment of the members to the Club when we need help with maintenance and other projects. We all have our own special skills and can help in our own way. If that way is your ‘time’, that is appreciated. If you have other skills that can be utilized please speak to a Committee member and we will be grateful for your contribution. There are plans to renovate the Den in early 2019 and we will need all those skills and ideas to ensure that we get the best result possible.

With the Committee and members all pulling in the same direction I foresee a productive and hugely successful 2019. Most people will be looking forward to a rest over the festive season. Rest up and come back refreshed and looking forward to a busy January running schedule. To those dedicated Comrades runners who are working on their base over the festive season I urge you to try get some quality rest. The hard months are still ahead and you need to be injury free to tackle them.

To all Stella members I would like to wish you and your families a blessed Christmas and trust that 2019 will bring you all health, happiness and success.

Regards,

Dave Beattie

Stella Athletic Club Chairman

Small steps and small goals

By: Gerald Van Wyk 

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If anyone had told me that I would ever run a 21km, I would have told them they were crazy. I have now been running at Stella for nearly 3 years, and loving every minute of it. (Well most of the time). When I started I could not run more than 2km without stopping. I trained hard and ran my first Hillcrest 21km that year. I did the South Coast 42km last year, which I was extremely under prepared for, but determined to do the run and finished!! I entered the Comrades this year but due to an injury never quailfied for it. I have been injured for a large part of this year.

Eventually I’m back on the road and recently did the South Coast 21km and did a PB. Last week I ran the DHS Oldies 10km and did a PB again.

So my advice to all new runners is not to try and do too much too soon, as this can only cause injuries.

I would like to thank Sandy, Amanda and Louise for all their encouragement they have given me along the way.

I’ll leave you with this thought….. small steps, small goals, Big Rewards

See you on the road.

Running my own race- The Mandela Half Marathon

By: Sarah- Lee Naidoo (21 years old)

5324cfde-6901-4a8e-9b02-280bfb868cd7.JPGAs a new member of Stella my fitness levels have steadily improved.

Thanks to the club’s weekly training schedule, which includes various training routes, my running techniques have improved, and I am definitely feeling fitter and stronger.  I have completed three 21km races and my latest achievement was the 21Km Mandela Marathon, which was the toughest race to date.  My finishing time was 2h24min. It was a challenging race which consisted of many up hills. However, in the weeks leading up to the race, Stella’s hill training equipped me well making the race manageable and enjoyable.

Stella has taught me to run my own race and do it to the best of my ability. The camaraderie amongst club members definitely motivates one and prepares you for the next challenge.

Cut at the Knees

By: Nokuthula Dubazane

A colleague asked me about my experience of running Comrades. I responded and said it is like going into war and seeing your fellow soldiers fall without knowing how to help, it’s the most painful experience I have ever felt but yet the most fulfilling thing I have ever done. One thing I know for sure is that Comrades challenges everything you think you know about yourself.

Pietermaritzburg 04:00 – 05:30

The morning felt like first day of school, I had never been so nervous and emotional in my life. Standing in that seeding pen, alone, I immediately noticed a lady who like me was standing on her own, she had tears in her eyes, and I gave her a hug and assured her that we ‘team novice’ would be fine. She responded and said “I just want it to be over”, that was an emotional moment which brought tears to my face as I could relate.

Lion Park 07:24:41 – Drummond 10:58:59

I got to 20km with the most excruciating pain in my calves, luckily I saw friends, got teary, sprayed my calves. I pushed for 10km to another friend who massaged which relieved the pain for a bit. When I got near halfway I just cried, I wanted to quit I was not sure I could do it. I pushed through and just after 50km had the physiotherapist strap my one leg, a relief to push for about 10km until the pain came back so did the tears.

Pinetown 14:22:50

With 20km to go I resisted getting another massage and I told myself, I had to get over it and push through. I knew I had lost time and had already been passed by the first 12 hour bus. At that point I was depleted, going up Cowies Hill I pulled my buff over my face and cried as I saw my Comrades dreams perish. Until a little voice within me said “You have been strapped, sprayed and massaged, get over it and push through.” I did just that, the vision was clear, first go past 12 hour bus then get to Moses Mabhida. After that, I pushed through and finished strong.

Durban 17:04:04

I finished Comrades with tears in my eyes, it was surreal. I closed my eyes briefly took it in and thanked God for carrying me through. I felt so much pain on that day, my mind bailed and can never thank my friends and the club enough for the support, hugs and food along the way. The highlight of all this madness, has been my lovely mother who said while she doesn’t understand the things I do ‘uyaziqhenya ngami’.

Rejoicing in the exhilaration of climbing up two summits in 46 days

By: David Mohale

Few weeks ago, I wrote a long post on Facebook about the parallels between a PhD journey and running the Comrades Marathon. For me personally, there are so many parallels. Notably, I did not register for the two voluntarily. My former supervisor at Wits University submitted my Masters’ dissertation at Unisa. The rest is history. I joined Stella AC either in late August or early September. Our own legendary Pat Freeman coaxed me to register for Comrades Marathon as a precaution. By that time, numbers were fast approaching 20000. At the time we had this conversation, I had not even run my first marathon. Again, the rest is history.

I will not get into the details of my post. However, it is important to try to bring the reader into my shoes. Motivation is not always innate. My greatest challenge was, therefore, to overcome the mind lethargy that resulted from my involuntary registration of these two envious summits. And this was not a stroll in the park, especially as the experienced in these two fronts tend to be boastful. I do not think they are aware so they could be forgiven.

I ran my first marathon in Vaal on the second weekend of September. Luckily, Pat Freeman had cautioned me about the effects of altitude. Had she not, I could have easily considered quitting. Be that as it may, completing the first marathon in 4:05 is apparently not bad. Soon after that I joined Stella’s Saturday long runs. I still remember that my first was 24km run to Westville. I ran with Kevin and Tawanda that day, keeping quiet while listening to their conversation, with topics ranging from their past runs, the economy and politics. I had to pretend that I was enjoying the run although it was tough for me. The second long run was 32km run up to Cowies Hill. I ran with Justin and Mark on the day and they also shared their Comrades Marathon experiences. Listening to them, I was convinced that I would not achieve the feat of completing Comrades Marathon in a lifetime.

Organisational studies emphasise the importance between organisational culture and individual behaviour. In this respect, individual attitudes and capabilities are not enough; they are a subject of the dominant climate created through formal rules and informal behaviour of its members. I am proud to say that Stella’s organisational culture is so positive that many of us, as novices, never experienced the kind of negative welcome that some novice runners would speak of elsewhere. I suppose this explains why the membership of the club seems to be on exponential growth. With the warm welcome of almost everyone at the club, the mind started to believe in the reasonable prospect of completing this ultimate human race.

From the bottom part of my heart, I wish to thank everyone at the Club for making me believe in my running capability. As I said before, running is more than just that; it somewhat epitomises what humanity should be about. This became evident on the day of the race when I woke up with an unbearable pain on my left knee. Alex Haddad helped me to forget about the pain until 25km. Later on, I caught up with Darren Smith, and they clearly looked bushed. Darren had the best words ever: “This is my 5th Comrades; it’s your first. You deserve a good time. Go and have fun”. In one of the many last short runs we did as the Club, Darren also shared tips on eating times on the day of the race. For the first time I accepted advice without a modicum of doubt and his advice worked perfectly for me. The support and words of encouragement from Stella Stars at our tables and along the road made the weight of running lighter.

In closing, the medal may be recorded in my name but I wish to dedicate it to Stella AC for being so professionally organised and for being a home for me, personally. I will forever be eternally indebted to the Club for making this personal historic feat possible. 2018 has, without a shadow of doubt, been my best year, with my graduation in Phd on 25 April and another PhD in running on 10 June 2018. It was not easy but it was done.