MY COMRADES STORY BY LAYLE ROSE CATHEY

My story actually begins with my dad, Kim Henderson, who ran 26 Comrades Marathons in his day, which meant I grew up with the Comrades having a special place in my heart. As kids we would work at one of the refreshment stations on Field’s Hill, scanning the crowds for my dad, and I just knew it was something I had to do myself one day…

That one day wound up being when I was in Grahamstown at Rhodes University studying for my Master’s Degree. It was 2007 and I had run my first marathon the year before, so I figured it was time to give the ‘Big C’ a try with my dad before it was too late as his knees were deteriorating rapidly – in fact, that Comrades was the last time he would ever run!

Of course, being in different provinces (my dad lives in Pinetown) meant we had to train and qualify separately, which was a bit nerve-wracking. It also didn’t help that I developed some serious ITB issues in my right knee a month before, which refused to rectify itself in time. This meant my dad and I were both starting the race with injuries. To be honest, we probably never should have run, but it meant so much to do it together that we just had to try.

Quite auspiciously, the Comrades Marathon in 2007 coincided with Father’s Day, making our adventure the ultimate daddy-daughter experience. It was certainly memorable – we hobbled our way through, gradually getting closer to Durban, feeding off the energy of the supportive crowds and our fellow runners.

We entered Kingsmead Stadium in a time of 11 hours 26 – my dad’s slowest Comrades ever – shame – but we were so unbelievably chuffed to have experienced his last and my first Comrades Marathon together.

I would go on to run another 7-and-a-half Comrades – the half involved that traumatic berg wind of 2013 – including some with my dear husband before I stopped in 2015 to start a family. After a seven-year hiatus, I have entered this year’s race once again, hoping for my ninth finish. Wish me luck, I will need it!”

The winner of this month’s Mr Price Sport voucher is Layle Rose Cathey.