Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 152 August 2022 | Page 35

The Comrades Marathon is a bucket list race for many South African runners
Dr Tom Boyles will be going for his eighth Comrades medals in 2022
road . In addition , Comrades was founded on a spirit of comradeship and people always talk about the Comrades spirit , and running is a community activity , so I thought many people would be happy to help out a fellow runner .”
* The Absa Cape Epic is a multi-stage mountain bike race with an entry fee of R52,000 per rider for the 2023 edition of the event . – Ed .
A Helping Hand
The idea Tom came up with was to raise funds via a BackaBuddy page , that could then be used to subsidise the entry fees of runners who could not afford to pay the full amount . He offered to reimburse them 50 % of their entry fee – R500 for those who had entered in 2020 , or R600 for those entering at the full R1200 fee . “ Runners had to first enter and pay in full for their entry , then ask the secretary of their running club to write a short motivation as to why they deserve this funding , including their approximate monthly income and their phone number . If selected for assistance , I would then pay money directly to the runners ,” says Tom .
The Raising Comrades Spirit fund has made it possible for more runners to be at Comrades 2022
Thus far the campaign has raised just under R35,000 , and Tom says he has paid out money to 13 deserving runners , as well as made a donation of R5000 to the Rand Athletic Club ( RAC ). “ Most of the applicants had already paid their entry fee , so I sent them R600 for shoes or travel , and others had been helped by officials at their club , who I paid money out to . When entries closed , the CMA also allowed me to enter five athletes through the substitution process , so I just paid their whole entry fee . RAC had paid the entry fees of about 40 athletes in their development squad , and were looking for money to help pay for transport for their athletes to Comrades .”
“ I have been able to help athletes from all over , including Gauteng , the Eastern Cape , and even Botswana . One of the athletes is a petrol attendant , and he was nominated for help by a woman who regularly fills up her car at the petrol station where he works . I corresponded with him via her , and she helped broker the deal . I ’ ve had a great response to the campaign , and have stayed in e-mail contact with some of the athletes I helped . I even met up with some of them at races ,” he adds .
Finding His Calling
Tom lives in Johannesburg with his partner Lynne and their two children , Kai ( 6 ) and Maya ( 4 ). He originally hails from the UK , but emigrated to South Africa in 2007 and has now earned permanent residency . As an infectious disease specialist , he came here to work on diseases like HIV and TB , but in the last few years he says COVID has become a core focus as well . “ In 2007 , I was looking for an adventure in the field of infectious diseases , and thought I would end up working in a refugee camp in Sudan , or something like that , but instead found myself on the Wild Coast in Transkei . There was a large number of HIV patients there , but very limited treatment available for them , and I found my calling there ,” says Tom .
The job was very demanding , though , and one thing that helped Tom cope was running , which he had taken up earlier in his career in the UK . “ Working long hours in medicine made it difficult to continue playing team sports such as cricket or hockey , so I took up running . I only did a few races in the UK , nothing longer than 21 kilometres , but once in South Africa I began running more races . In 2008 I did the Knysna Half Marathon , then towards the end of that year I ran my first marathon in Port Elizabeth . It was a nice , flat course and I managed a 4:15 ,” says Tom .