Thursday, June 07, 2012

Comrades Marathon 2012 - DNF

 I ran Comrades Marathon 2012 and did not complete. This is my story.

As the bus entered the Sahara Kings Mead and deposited bus full of quitters, I looked up the big electronic clock and it read 14:50:05.  It had been two hours since I quit.

Around 45th KM, I met up with couple of Indian runners who were also struggling like me but nevertheless pushing each other along gave me the reassuring words of assurance I was looking for.  “Take it easy till 52k, after that it’s all downhill” That pulled along for 9k more, but the promised ‘downhill’ was tougher than the ‘uphill’.  For that matter, it didn’t matter if it was up or down any forward movement was a challenge and I simply couldn’t get my legs to move forward.  That’s when the demons got better of me and declared victory.

I meekly gave into the demons and flagged down a ‘Runners Rescue’ van that cruising along sweeping runners who had decided to quit.  The van I stopped did not have a place; it was full of DNF runners.   I took it as ‘high powers’ not wanting me to quit and continued running.  Well I wasn’t running but walked along with demons sitting squarely on my shoulders waiting for the next opportunity to claim victory.  That came within the next 5 minutes, by then the message of a runner wanting to quit got passed along and the next van stopped by to sweep me in.  I lamely hopped into the van with a sense of defeat but also with a sense of relief knowing that I didn’t have to run anymore.

Once I got in, the lady politely received me and did something on my BIB to mark that I am a DNF.   She did that first and then asked me if I am ok and needed something to eat of drink.  But then, I was in no mood to eat or even talk to anyone.  I said no to her and simply hid my face not wanting anyone else ‘see’ me, as if that is going to somehow ‘hide’ from the DNF status.

The van continued its journey and picked up few more quitters like me.   After about 3k or so, I saw Balaji ambling along and let out a loud shout.  “Go Balaji Go..”.  He looked around to see who is calling him and saw me.  He saw me where he didn’t want to see me and his face showed it.  I could read a sense of despair writ large in his face.  But that quickly turned in to a firm resolve and he yelled back ‘Ram, I am going to finish the run for you’ and started moving along.

After few more runners, the van was declared ‘full’ and pulled out of the running route to deposit us in to a larger bus, which took us to the finish point, Sahara Kings Mead cricket stadium.  It was packed with finishers, families and a few quitters like me.  

The clock read 14:50:05 and it had been two hours since I quit.  Yes, I became a Comrades 2012 DNF after 54k and 7:19:57 hours.

Next - If I were to run Comrades again


  1. Don't agree with the statement, "I meekly gave into the demons" - That's not the right phrase after 54k of running some of the worst terrain in horrible weather conditions. In fact, you braved the worst of the race and you just needed a bit 'extra' - hydration, energy and most importantly luck - to see through you in the next edition. I am sure you would do it!

  2. You've been brave. The courage you mustered to even signup for the race and to even get to the start line of the legendary Comrades speakes a thousand words about it. Remember what Carl Lewis once said about taking part in the Olympics - Its not winning or losing that matters, but taking part in it. It holds good in your case too! Take a bow for having dared to challenge yourself. Do it once more and you will send the demons running helter skelter!

  3. You ain't a quitter Ram, you're a fighter. And we've all seen many instances of that in the past. I'm sure with more resolve, you'll not just defeat the demons the next time around and claim vengeance, but also come back in your next marathon strong! You're a huge inspiration for all of us!

  4. Tough luck Ram. In one of the runs you told me that it was difficult for you to focus and I was actually concerned that you went ahead for the run. Hats off for the great spirit. You are always inspiring.

  5. Ram, this came as a complete surprise but just tells me that this stuff happens to the best of the best - it was just not your day. I know you are going to go back and conquer Comrades soon. And that too in style... so I ain't sayin nothin more

  6. Ram, your emotions brought back the memories of my 5k race at the inter-college atheletic meet, where I hit a "wall" long long time ago. Even today I can not get over the feelings.Any amount of consolation will not be of any use. I am touched by the action of Balaji who adorned your neck with his medal, the real motivation to earn it came from your DNF!