“I distinctly remember the first words I said when I crossed the finish line after my first Comrades in 1980. “Never again,” I exclaimed through teary eyes. Of course, like many others, I was pressured to come back the next year to do an Up Run. “You’re not a proper Comrades runner until you’ve done one of each,” I was told.


By then of course the bug had bitten. I’d lost weight, felt healthier and stronger, and met a whole new circle of like-minded friends. Teachers, Accountants, Engineers, Salesmen, Gardeners, it didn’t matter; we all had one goal – finish the Comrades Marathon.


Eventually we speeded up a bit and found we could run in a ‘bus’ at least to halfway, pushing each other to faster times, but still keeping the camaraderie and team spirit.


Over the years the group swelled in numbers, some fell by the wayside or moved on, but lifetime bonds and friendships were forged on the road between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.


One of those bonds was with John Stark (7251) of Pirates. We ran thousands of miles together over the past 30 plus years of Comrades. Unfortunately, John suddenly passed away last year, collapsing after a training run. One of the ‘bus drivers’ was gone.


But we’ll carry on, knowing he’s with us in spirit. Comrades does that to you.”


The winner of this month’s Arnica Ice hamper is Ian Benson.