Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 164 December 2023 | Page 29

According to Comrades Marathon criteria , I needed to be able to run a marathon in no more than 4:49:59 , so now I was on the hunt for my first-ever marathon . I scoped locations and my heart was drawn to the Cango Caves Marathon in Oudtshoorn , the place where my Meiring ancestors resided some 200 years prior , thus the marathon seemed like a match made in heaven .
My training kicked off with my mileage increasing gradually and my Garmin flashing excitedly as records for longest distance run were broken . For example , New Year ’ s Eve included a 28km long run , which was a first for me , as in the past I either took the day off , or ran an 8km , so things were starting to get real , really quick .
Stepping It Up
My first race for 2023 , the Bay to Bay 30km , would take place seven days before I turned 20 . I remembered this race from my childhood , waiting for my uncle at the finish line , daydreaming of one day finishing the race myself . A few days before the race also marked another transition , the removal of my junior age category tags from my club running kit . Now I would be wearing my big girl kit .
At Bay to Bay , I let loose the first half and paid dearly near the end , as my quads were numb from the pain , but I was beaming with pride with my time of 2:16:50 and finishing 10th woman overall in my first race as a senior . Next up was the Milkwood Half Marathon , a race that would mark another milestone , as it was the fifth time I would be running it since completing my first-ever half marathon there in 2019 . I set a fiveminute PB for this race , and now I was counting down the days to my first marathon .
The 24th of February meant one day left , so I needed to get packing and embark on a road trip down Route 62 to Oudtshoorn . The morning of the race was an adventure in itself , as we marathon participants travelled in ostrich trucks from Langenhoven Gymnasium in the town to the start of the marathon at the Cango Caves . The gun went off , and now it was time to face my demons . The race went smoothly , and I was having a blast until 21km , when my quads began combusting into flames . I was relegated to a walk and tried stretching my legs , but the damage was done , and now the regret at entering a 90km race was starting to haunt me . I devoured several Bar- Ones , naively hoping that their energy ‘ for a 25-hour day ’ would turn the tide on my grumpy , uncooperative legs , but the final 12km was an absolute nightmare , as walking hurt even more than running .
When I saw the finish line , I had never been so happy and relieved in my life as a runner . Kaboom , I fell flat on my bum and the race announcer called the medics to help the lady in the Wild Runner kit . I couldn ’ t stand up , because my legs felt like daggers had stuck through them , pinning me to the grass . Whilst the medics mixed me a sachet of rehydrate , I glanced at my Garmin and saw that I had run 3:29:55 , which was mind-blowing , a C batch seeding in the bag for my first ever Comrades ! When I got home , I immediately went to my entry profile on the Comrades website and uploaded my time , and now the first part of my preparation was complete .
Feeling elated after her first marathon finish
It ’ s been a really successful year for Ela