MY COMRADES STORY BY MARISSA DAMONS
“I am reminded of the quote, ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step’ and that sums up my journey towards running the Comrades Marathon. I ran my first Comrades in 2017 after having started running seriously from around 2015 when I joined the group of runners from Durban North known as ‘Regents Runners’ who are a voluntary group of runners who convene to run religiously every morning from Tuesday to Friday at 5:15am come rain or shine and who from around September every year start running on the weekends as part of Comrades training.
What I learnt over time was that many of these runners had run many marathons and most of them had a run between 15 to over 20 Comrades Marathons which totally blew my mind because at that stage I had not even run a half marathon; and yet these were ordinary people who were able to achieve such extraordinary things in terms of the various Comrades accolades they had managed to attain - and I wanted to be a part of this group of extra-ordinary individuals, who pushed their minds and bodies beyond any limit.
The beauty of it all though was that they were all so humble as no one cared what position you held in society they were all united by only one thing - their absolute love for running, being on that road to free their minds and being in community with each other.
Running has given me so much not only in terms of my health and mental well-being but also in terms of teaching me about ‘Life’ and how to navigate the challenges that life may throw my way, because as in any race, it takes a great deal of grit and determination to achieve your goals which is to ultimately get to the finish line, and on the journey to that finish line, you experience both good moments and challenging moments when your body is not performing the way you had hoped and when your mind just takes over to help you transcend what is happening in that moment; knowing that by just moving forward, the moment will pass bringing you closer to that finish line.
It is the same in life - that no matter what you are going through at a particular moment in time you have two choices – to give up or to continue taking the next step and moving forward towards the ultimate ‘finish’ line. With the knowledge that what you put into it is what you will ultimately get out in return.
Training for and running Comrades for me was really achieving the ultimate human goal. It takes great resolve, dedication and determination as you need to get up early in the morning when most of the world is still asleep to train and then still ensure you perform in your day to day life at home and at work - which has taught me great discipline.
This year I managed to achieve my fourth Comrades finish in a time of 10hr59min which was a personal best for me and so grateful to have achieved. What motivates me to keep running this ultimate human race is to be able to keep pushing the boundaries both mentally and physically because once you have achieved a certain personal best, for instance you want to train harder to improve on that knowing that it is possible because others have done it.
So you are constantly motivated and evolving, developing and getting stronger with each run or training session that you undertake. Besides my own goals I want to inspire others to know that as “ordinary” people they can also achieve the extraordinary if they just put their mind to it and make a decision to be better and do better beyond any limit that either they or others may impose on them.
My reason for running this year’s Comrades Marathon was for my friend who was diagnosed with cancer whilst on our training journey and we were meant to run this Comrades together, but that did not happen as she had to undergo major surgery. I also ran for my work colleague with whom I had worked closely for many years and who succumbed to cancer in July. These two women are true examples to me of strength, humility and determination to defy the odds, and I wanted to honour them.
So why do I keep doing what I do?
My main reason is to remain inspired but also to be an example to my two beautiful children Matthew and Tamica-Grace who are my reason to rise higher and achieve more than I could ever imagine as I want them to grow to be compassionate human beings who know no limits, and for them to understand that the simple difference between the ‘impossible’ and what is possible depends on one’s own determination!”
The winner of this month’s Mr Price Sport voucher is Marissa Damons.