2017 OLD MUTUAL SPIRIT OF COMRADES AWARD
FIRST RECIPIENT: HIDEO TAKANO
With six nominations coming in for the first Spirit of Comrades Awards recipient, and with fellow runners having only adulatory things to say about him, coupled with his commitment and sacrifice at this year’s race, selecting Hideo Takano for this year’s accolade was a fitting one.
Hideo, who hails from the United Kingdom, has completed The Ultimate Human Race 17 times. With a personal best of 9:54:39 in the 2012 Down Run, he would have easily achieved his 18th Comrades finish at this year’s race.
But thanks to his great heart and personal commitment to help a fellow runner, Collin Gill aged 70, on his third attempt at achieving his Green Number, he sacrificed his own medal in order to stick with his struggling compatriot, until they were both forced to retire from the race at the Cato Ridge cut-off, with 30km to go.
Hideo has been described as “a true comrade; a great ambassador for the race and an inspiration to many Brits who come to South Africa each year, just for the Comrades Marathon.”
Through his love for The Ultimate Human Race, he has continued to drum up support for the race; and assist and encourage runners to train and prepare for Comrades. He has been endorsed by many runners as helping to grow the UK tally of runners in the Comrades Marathon. Of nearly 70 countries participating in the Comrades Marathon, the UK has retained its prime position in terms of international entrants over the years.
Being a proud member of the Comrades Marathon Green Number Club, Hideo knows the race incredibly well and has assisted with the annual Comrades International Bus Tour for eight years, volunteering as a tour leader and translator for the Japanese runners and their guests. His goodwill is palpable, with an infectious smile and tons of enthusiasm.
SECOND & THIRD RECIPIENTS: STEVEN VIENINGS & VISHAL KANJEE
The second and third recipients of the coveted Old Mutual Spirit of Comrades Award have both contributed to displaying the very noble, selfless and compassionate attributes of The Ultimate Human Race through a combined act of goodwill, kindness and sacrifice. Steven Vienings, a member of Magnolia Road Runners and Vishal Kanjee from JoziX Training were deemed the kindness champions of the 2017 Old Mutual Spirit of Comrades Awards gala after sacrificing their 2017 Comrades medals to assist another athlete.
Steven has completed the Comrades Marathon three times whilst Vishal was attempting his very first, with great hopes of completing his novice Comrades journey.
This dynamic duo, who came together along the 87km Comrades Up Run route per chance, have been credited with potentially saving an anonymous female runner’s life at this years’ Comrades Marathon.
Onlookers have testified to Steven and Vishal’s selflessness, comradeship and deep resolve to helping a female runner in need, despite them knowing full well that they would miss the impending cut-off by stopping to help the just-collapsed athlete.
Whilst other athletes continued running seemingly unperturbed, Steven and Vishal, both with limited first aid experience, began helping the runner by turning her onto her side. They also administered compression as she was losing consciousness. It was clear that she was struggling to breathe as well as being visibly dehydrated, hyperventilating and on the cusp of going into anaphylactic shock.
Steven and Vishal’s quick thinking and ready assistance helped to stabilize her and keep her conscious until paramedics arrived about 15 minutes later. They unfortunately never got to meet her or find out her name but their good deed was certainly noticed whilst so many other passing runners focused on making the looming cut-off.
Steven says, “Comrades is my reason to wake up and run and stay healthy. I love the journey to the race. My favourite points on the route are Arthur’s Seat, Halfway, Ethembeni School and best of all the spectators, they are absolutely amazing!”
Vishal says the race means a lot to him as it is such a definitive South African event and so much a part of growing up as a proud South African. He says, “I used to watch it on television and think that someday I will be the one to cross that finish line. That was until I decided to make it a reality and actually enter and run it. Just getting to the Comrades Start line was epic. I look forward to going the whole mile. Comrades is the ultimate!”