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.
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