“The Comrades Marathon has been a part of my life since I was a child, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I would one day undertake this mammoth (yet magical) race myself.

I fondly remember my family tradition of waking up early on race day and being glued to our television screens as we watched the start of the Comrades Marathon and followed this throughout the day, beaming with pride and excitement at watching the winners and with bated breath, as the last runners crossed the finish line at the dreaded 12-hour cut-off.

People often ask WHY Comrades? The short answer to this is that running keeps me fit and sane; it energises me. However, I have not always been a runner and being more academically inclined, had never played any sport.

The sedentary lifestyle of being stuck in my books followed me throughout my life. However, in 2012, I suddenly lost my mum to an autoimmune illness and that opened my eyes as to how important it is to be grateful for our bodies and our health.
In dealing with that grief, I used food as a source of comfort and without even realising, I ended up weighing a whopping 98kg (a very unfit and heavy 20-year-old!). After completing university, the realisation dawned on me that I was overweight and extremely unhealthy.

I decided to embark on a lifestyle overhaul and successfully lost a substantial amount of weight by incorporating running and exercise into my life. I started running by doing park runs. This environment motivated me to start running road races which resulted in me being courageous enough to run my first full marathon in 2022; and inevitably led to the dream of completing The Ultimate Human Race.

My Comrades Marathon journey has been fraught with its own challenges, joys, tears and pain. In 2021, whilst preparing for my first Comrades, I unexpectedly lost my dad after a short illness which further made me realise how fragile life is and the importance of chasing one’s dreams.

I ran my first Comrades Marathon (not only for myself but as a tribute to my parents) in 2022 but unfortunately was met with the dreaded DNF as I fell ill and had to abandon my race in Pinetown. It was one of the toughest decisions I had to make in my life.

However, I am not one to give up and in 2023 I was determined to go back for my medal and successfully completed my first Comrades Marathon. The bug seems to have bitten as I lined up again this year and successfully completed my first Up Run.

I have walked a long and painful road of loss and difficult times but running and my amazing running family that I have inherited from my Comrades training has seen me through it all. I am a big dreamer and believer, and my personal motto is that ‘if your dreams don't scare you, then they are not big enough’.
Being an avid runner, I anecdotally compare life to being like an ultramarathon for it is likely to always challenge us in many ways. The terrain is often uneven, the uphill will always test our resolve and much like the Comrades Marathon, you are guaranteed that there is always going to be a steep uphill (or 5 of them) on the horizon.

However, with grit, sheer determination and the will to never give up - one is guaranteed to cross the finish line. The encouragement and the support of the crowd and other runners is what carries every runner to the finish line, and this is what makes this ultramarathon so special.

Long live The Comrades Marathon, may it continue to motivate, move and inspire the world.”

The winner of this month’s Mr Price Sport voucher is Ashton Harichand.