Monique, Haydn Bam, Wendy Saint
Monique, Haydn Bam, Wendy Saint

Monique, Haydn and Wendy - In Training

(Photo : Supplied)

“In celebration of mankind’s

spirit over adversity…”

We consider ourselves blessed in KwaZulu Natal, to have on our doorstep a unique offering of some of the world’s biggest and most challenging sporting events. Heading the list are South Africa’s “Big Three”; the Midmar Mile - the world’s largest open water swim, the Dusi Canoe Marathon - the world’s toughest canoe race, and the focus of this post, Sunday’s Comrades Marathon - the world’s greatest ultra-marathon.

Of particular interest to us at Summerhill, is the participation in this year’s Comrades of Agriculture Manager, Haydn Bam, and former PA to the boss, Wendy Saint. From what we hear, both are in fine fettle and are raring to go.

The 90km Comrades is a South African institution, internationally recognised for the body-sapping challenge it poses and for the camaraderie it fosters among its 20,000 plus participants. Run between the capital of KwaZulu Natal, Pietermaritzburg, and the coastal city of Durban, the race alternates annually between the up run from Durban and the down run from Pietermaritzburg. This year sees what is generally considered the “less taxing” up run.

The race was the idea of First World War veteran Vic Clapham, who wanted a living memorial to those South African soldiers killed in the war. Clapham, who had endured a 2700-kilometre route march through sweltering German East Africa, wanted the memorial to be a unique test of the physical endurance for the entrants.

The constitution of the race states that one of its primary aims is to “celebrate mankind’s spirit over adversity”.

The Comrades Marathon first took place in 1921 and has been run every year since, except from 1941 to 1945 when it was stopped during the Second World War. Forty-eight runners entered the first race, but when the starting shot was fired, only 34 had the heart to tackle the daunting task - not surprising when one considers that the course was tarred only for the last few kilometres into Durban. A time limit of 12 hours was set and Bill Rowan became the inaugural winner, clocking 08:59 to win by 41 minutes from second-placed Harry Phillips. Of the 34 starters, only 16 completed the race.

The starting gun fires at 05:30 tomorrow morning at sea-level in Durban and the route climbs towards Pietermaritzburg over the daunting Cowies Hill, Fields Hill, Bothas Hill, Inchanga and Polly Shorts, to a finishing altitude of 650m in the KZN capital.

We wish Haydn and Wendy great courage, perseverance and ultimate success… the Team is behind you.