Here’s how it works: Thirty-some years ago I was invited to a wonderful gathering with great friends Dave & Goldie who’d just had twins to add to their Tatum. There was good food thanks to Goldie and lots of beer which Dave may have had something to do with. Also there was something in a church, I dunno why, but hey! Did I mention the food and beer?
Turns out childless, clueless me had said something in church that was actually a lifelong commitment! I had joined the Mafia become a Godfather! I immediately set about neglecting my duties, but when the twins started performing terrifically in the famous Dusi Canoe Marathon I mumbled Them’s My Godsons and got told to shurrup.
But now! NOW! Googs has just run the famous Comrades Marathon in the insanely quick time of 7hrs 14mins – over 15mins inside silver medal time! So once again I step forward out of the shadows. Although claiming some influence on his good performance, I did mention that I hadn’t won my Comrades when I ‘did it’ back when we wore heavy hobnailed boots and hand-knitted vests.
Being the gentleman he is, Googs sms’d me back: Chuffed you are back to claim godfathership! Glad I could lure you back from retirement.
Less than a week later I became a Granpa for the first time. Ziggy had a baby boy on Saturday!
Tom is claiming godfathership! Knowing Zig she probly did confer the honour on him! He’s super-chuffed. Will prolly walk around with his chest out and do nothing, just like his father before him. **Some people!**
I have always stopped (way) shy of really pushing my body. My mantra is a firm “No Pain, No Pain”. Intelligence or cowardice? Intelligence, of course, IMNSHO.
—————— . . . . Noakes tells the central-governor story in a narrative form that’s almost, well … almost readable. I’m not saying the paper is easy-going, certainly not for the faint-of-heart. And I’m sure there are vast parts of it that I don’t understand—it appears to have about 150 references, many of them from the last year or two of research.
Still, the quotes from great athletes are always entertaining. Roger Bannister says: “The great barrier is the mental hurdle.” Former marathon world record holder Derek Clayton says: “The difference between my world record and many world class runners is mental fortitude. I ran believing in mind over matter.”
Apparently Noakes does as well. In the provocative last section of his paper, he writes that the “illusionary” symptoms of fatigue are what separates the marathon winner from the runners-up. The first time I read this section, I couldn’t help but think about the people with illusionary thoughts who are often locked up in mental wards. Of course, Noakes isn’t saying that fast runners are crazy. Only that their thoughts are illusionary in the sense that they “are entirely self-generated by each athlete’s brain and so are unique to each individual.”
Noakes closes by quoting Vince Lombardi, who said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” Noakes believes, however, that Lombardi got things backwards. Noakes writes: “My unproven hypothesis is that in the case of a close finish, physiology does not determine who wins. Rather somewhere in the final section of the race, the brains of the second, and lower placed finishers, accept their respective finishing positions and no longer challenge for a higher finish.” The winner’s brain simply doesn’t give in.
In other words, according to Noakes, cowardice produces fatigue.
Sadly, I believe him. My brain explains to me in firm, no-nonsense terms that it is pointless pushing any harder and in fact it’s time to take a short break. And I always obey.
It’s bullshit. He wasn’t ready. He wasn’t finished. He wasn’t even close to wrapping up all the things he still planned to do – even after doing so much.
Damn! Too soon.
A very special human being.
Ernie’s wake will be held in Ernie’s Pub in Kingfisher Canoe Club on the banks of the Umgeni River in Durban. You KNOW you have led a really wonderful life when you’re going to be saluted in a pub named after you while you were still in your prime by your mates!
Ernest Alder – 17/08/1942 – 21/01/2018
Also, that I know of:
He was involved in the Caister old age home while his Mom was there;
He owned a holiday home on a game farm up north, adjoining Mkhuze.
It is with a heavy heart that I write of the passing of Ernie Alder! There are very few truly selfless individuals, those that give of their time beyond what could ever be expected without seeking reward or adulation! Ernie you will, for me, always be synonymous with KCC and there will never be a time, driving in to the car park, that I do not look for your vehicle, your welcoming smile or your loudhailer! Rest in peace my friend, you did so much to assist me in my time as chairman and for the numerous chairs before and those that came after. Your legacy will forever be intertwined with the history of KCC and you will be sorely missed at the club and along the many riverbanks and boat pounds across the country!
A gentleman, a gentle man! We will miss you – Elvis Kingfisher
I tried. Well, I made a less-than-worthy attempt. My heart wasn’t in the training. I could never quite see the glamour or ‘worthiness’ of shuffling furtively round the dark streets long before sunrise, but I gave it a go. I even tried the flaming hot running shorts Phil Greenberg gave me in the hopes I’d speed up a bit.
I joined a club – maybe that’s where I went wrong? I joined Westville with their red & white hoops ‘caterpillar’ outfit whereas historically I was more suited to be a black-&-white Savage with a Zulu shield, knobkierie and spear on my chest. Years before, I had been Savage No. 451, so maybe I should have stuck to that? Westville gave me number 159738b or something – I don’t think they valued me like Savages did. That probably put me off my stride a bit.
Anyway, I shuffled and I shuffled and I ran all the races including two 42km marathons.
Here’s an example of a ‘short’ training run in windy, hilly Westville, starting at our home. We took turns hosting our short runs at our homes, with tea n cake served afterwards. This is the run I worked out for the training team:
Walk up River Drive
R into Elvira
R into Rockdale across highway bridge
R Severn – down
L Rockdale – UP for 500m !!
Back all along Rockdale
R Tweed – Done 4km at this point
L Thames – down
R Conway – down
L Constance Cawston – UP & UP
L Somerset – UP & UP (becomes Frank)
L Cochrane (becomes Cleveland – UP) – 6,5km
R Rockdale (that’s right, Rockdale again !)
R Broadway – UP
L Neville – 8,6km
L Westbrook – down, then UP
L Harrison – UP
R River – 11,5km
Then eventually the big day arrived and I hadn’t arranged anything so I took myself off to Maritzburg to my folks. Early the next morning my Mom dropped me off at the start – long before sunrise. More dark streets – but now with crowds of lunatics milling around the red brick city hall.
Some guy crowed like a rooster and a gun went off in the dark and nothing happened. Minutes later still nothing had happened. The chatter of the would-be runners had changed to an excited murmur but nothing else had changed. Eventually we started shuffling at a very slow pace, slower even than my training pace, and some long time later we crossed the START line. The START line! I was tired already! I think I was in Batch ZZZZ.
That’s when I started thinking fu-uck! and I’m afraid that thought didn’t really leave me all day. I knew my pace was slow by the people around me: None of the runners looked like young skinny blonde Wits students, nor like Russians – and if they did look African they looked larger and rounder than me. Also the few spectators about weren’t saying ‘Well Done!’ or ‘Go! Guys!‘ NO, Instead they were saying Move Along! in a rather critical, nagging tone of voice, I thought. No ‘You’re looking good!’s Weird that.
This was confirmed when I passed under a banner that said ‘HALFWAY’ – Half way meant I only had 3km (Plus a Marathon) to go. Springbok rugby captain Wynand Claassen recklessly shot off a gun which left gunpowder residue on my scarlet Westville Running Club shorts. Well, if that wasn’t a pointed ‘Move Your Arse’ hint! Who the hell did he think he was? He had run the race but he’d never won the race, his father had.
En route I caught up with a few long-lost friends: Jacques-Herman du Plessis from Harrismith days; Rheinie Fritsch from army days. Also Aitch and 5yr-old Jessie and 1yr-old Tommy met me in Botha’s Hill for a family reunion. They were all a bit cool though, a bit offish, I thought: after a while enjoying standing and chatting to them they all said, ‘Haven’t you got something to do today?‘ and sent me on my way.
So I shuffled and I shuffled and then my spirits rose at a sudden thought! I started to think maybe there had been a collective coming to their senses, as there were no other runners around nor any spectators. Maybe I had got the wrong day? Or maybe everyone had just gone home to a hot bath and a cold beer?
But no, the spectators returned. Trouble is they were all packing up their deckchairs. And so the slow torture continued. Shuffle, shuffle. Suddenly a few cops jumped in front of me holding reflective tape as I shuffled under the N3 below 45th Cutting, just before the onramp (usually an offramp) onto the Berea Road section of the N3 into town.
Go Home, they said, We need this road for tomorrow’s traffic. You’ve had eleven hours, they said, and you’ve only done 82km. Where have you BEEN?
So I went home to a hot bath and a cold beer. Look, about this heading: Actually, you can call me Comrade, I’d love that, but only in a liberation sense, not in a shuffling sense.
So now I’m also guilty of this: “How do you know if someone has run a marathon?”
“They’ll tell you.”
The guys in my pics are Dave Williams, Kingfisher and Savages mate; and Dave Lowe, Westville runner; Both have done OVER FORTY Comrades – 41 and 42 respectively to be precise. That is Seriously Certifiable! I told Dave ‘Jesus’ ‘John Cleese’ Williams just the other night at Ernie’s wake “You know you can stop now, right?” and he said no, he failed to finish last year for the first time ever, so this year he’s going to repeat his 42nd Comrades. Bleedin’ ‘ell!