Comrades Marathon – Race Report

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In 2009 I ran my first Comrades hoping to complete the grueling 90km downrun. I doubted, I feared, I hurt, I cried and I conquered. When I crossed the finish line I knew I could do anything. No matter how tough a challenge life could throw at me I would overcome it. I took this awareness into everyday life and began to challenge myself to be better, to aim higher and to achieve the extraordinary in all aspects of my life.

After being blessed with the most incredible 2015, where I achieved more success then I could have ever imagined, I was left wondering if improving on such a year was even possible. Was it possible to get better? Perhaps the time had arrived to plateau – to aim to try to match my achievements rather than attempt to improve on them. The idea of aiming for better than what I would refer to as “a perfect year” seemed ungrateful and ridiculous. The idea of remaining the same seemed empty and unfulfilling. I realized that although improvement might not be possible and exceeding “perfect” was unlikely, the choice to aim for more is possible and the challenge and the drive of it makes life more gratifying.

The “What is more?” then became the overriding question. Should I aim for the Olympics? Should I aim to break the Comrades course record? Should I aim to do well in a completely different event? Indecisiveness ultimately led to too much of everything and not much of anything, but the lessons learnt will drive me towards better and greater, for often it is our downfalls that precede our biggest victories.

After going into hard training too soon after Comrades 2015 in an attempt to qualify for the Olympics during the New York Marathon I sustained an injury two weeks before race day. I pushed through the race ignoring common sense and spent the rest of the year recovering from a torn plantar fascia. In January panic struck and feeling unfit and behind in my training I pushed myself harder. Niggle after niggle followed but after a breakthrough and a surprise win during Two Oceans I felt that I was back on track. I continued to push myself to the extreme until I could barely walk three weeks before Comrades. I then realized that I had to do something drastic to “fix” my overtrained body.

An extremely aggressive three week taper resulted in me finally feeling springy and completely niggle free the day before Comrades. Timing seemed perfect and whilst I had been considering plan B (a more conservative run) the spark for the extraordinary was reignited and the idea of chasing records took over. I looked over my two possible pacing plans. (Plan A: Record or Plan B: safe and conservative) the night before race day and decided to not decide. I would let race day decide. I was confident that the first 20km uphill stretch would enable me to decipher whether a record chasing day was on the cards or not.

After an awful nights sleep I awoke with a stiff neck and one hell of a headache. “Not a great start to the day”, I thought, “Looks like it will be Plan B then”.

Not wanting to take NSAIDS I started frantically asking around for some Panados to ease my throbbing head. Eventually I was saved my Colleen de Reuck who gave me some asprin. By the time we arrived at the start the headache had eased and Plan A was back on the cards.

The vibe as the start was as electrifying as always and I gave thanks for being able to participate in this magnificent event, for the people and the camaraderie, for the gift of being able to run. I prayed that everyone have a blessed run and that Gods will be done. Win or lose I would give him the glory and accept any life lessons he wanted me to learn.

I sang with my comrades for my country and our unity as we stood at the start line, I felt goosebumps as Chariots of Fire boomed over the speakers, the cock crowed and then we were off on journey of a thousand possibilities which taught me a thousand life lessons

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The first 10km’s flew by and as I floated up the hills with my heart rate remaining well below my threshold level I was thrilled to pick “Plan A”. It was what I had dreamt of and worked for. I knew it was risky but it just felt right. It felt worth the risk. As dawn broke I found myself leading a large pack of companions as we entered the day with admiration for the beauty of the sunrise and the scenery and we sang a little song (Morning has broken). The world seemed full of opportunity and the road before us inviting and exciting.

I was enjoying the vibe, the crowds, the journey and the km’s flew by. As we went into Drummond and the halfway mark I felt that a much faster second half was on the cards and the idea of making the impossible happen was becoming real. This vibe continued until around 60km’s into the race when suddenly I got my first warning sign that things weren’t going to be as effortless as I had been dreaming.

As I started venturing down Fields Hill my quads started to hurt and tighten. I calmed down by reminding myself that I was 60km into the race and some pain and discomfort was completely normal at this point. My quads tightened further and I realized that they had started to cramp. I panicked and instead of using logic and slowing down, my adrenaline at the thought of failing surged and I followed it at an insanely fast pace down the most brutal and unforgiving hill of the race.

I can run through this I told myself. My mind is strong. My legs will just have to keep moving. The cramps started to move into my calves and a case of musical cramps soon unfolded jumping from quads to calves to quads. I was in Pinetown and reassuring myself that I just had to hang on for an easy Monday morning run and I would be at the end. I thought, “Let me get to Cowies and then I will take a walk, calm down and reassess my situation”. Halfway up Cowies I took a long walk with a massive debate unraveling in my head. “Obviously the record is off the cards”, I realized, “I will just jog to the end. My legs are broken, but focus, ignore the pain, just run.”

I started running and the cramping set in again. I was trying to zone out from the pain but simultaneously trying to take every once of help I could get. “Maybe spraying water on my quads will help” I thought. “Perhaps I should drink some Energade and gets some electrolytes in”. I tried to move to a water table at some point and found myself causing a massive pile up of motorbikes. “I must be dreaming”, I thought.

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Then, “Ouchie, cramp – quad, cramp – calf, did my stomach muscle actually just cramp? WTF”. “Okay zone out and just run, ignore it. Strong mind, strong mind.”

Suddenly I found myself on the floor. My legs had buckled under the cramps and I had fallen over. “And when you fall what do you do? You get back up. “I told myself and I walked and reassessed again. I knew that it was unlikely I would win the race in this condition. I had no idea what the gap was but it suddenly seemed irrelevant. The only thought in my mind was “I won’t quit, I won’t give up, I will keep moving forward, I will finish.”

I ran until I cramped and then I walked until I cramped less. The crowd stopped me from collapsing to the ground as the carried me forward with their cheering and singing. I felt betrayed by my body and yet I have never felt more loved and supported by thousands whom I did not know offering me the best of their compassion. I forgot I was in a race for time or position. I was solely in a race for survival and the camaraderie of the thousands who were with me on my struggle –my compatriots, my friends. When Charne Bosman passed me and went into the lead I felt grateful and happy that she didn’t suffer as much on her journey as I had. After I reached the grass field I had relief in the knowledge that should I collapse, crawling to the end on grass would be far me comfortable than on tar.

Fall

When I crossed the finish line I learnt that winning is not about coming first but rather about challenging yourself to the limit, pushing the boundaries and walking (or crawling) away from the experience a better, stronger person. Failing to achieve my goal on race day, in a strange way, made me realize that I can do anything and that nothing is impossible. God may not have given me the day I envisioned but he allowed me to witness the human spirit at its best, he allowed me learn about perseverance and he taught me how to act when things don’t go my way.

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I couldn’t help but laugh after I collapsed to the ground after finishing. On my hands and knees I laughed with relief that I had made it, I laughed about the bizarre events of the day and I laughed because in my obvious and clearly evident physical weakness I had never felt stronger or more empowered. I was humbled. I was a Comrades Marathon Finisher.

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102 Responses

  1. Surita
    | Reply

    In absolute awe…

  2. Karlien
    | Reply

    With this experience you have taught me so much. I got tears in my eyes when I saw you falling on Comrades day, and I thought this is it you are not going to give up, but you did not. You pushed through the pain – that is a true champion. My primary school principle always used to say ” This is the story of famous men, they have to fall to rise again. So if you fall, pick yourself up, dust yourself of and try again….” Thank you for sharing your story.

  3. Xoliswa
    | Reply

    What a beautiful and inspiring story…. May you remain strong and humble and may God gives you wings(well legs) to fly again for the remainder of your running career.

  4. Verushk
    | Reply

    Woow, absolutely inspirational… I love this woman.

  5. Frik Guys
    | Reply

    U made my eyes full of tears when the struggle began. And u showed everyone, givin up aint a optoin, as much pain u went tru, u finished the race, I admire u for finished the big C, and inspired by u. May God bless.

  6. Terry Tam
    | Reply

    Hi Caroline,

    You a, to put it simply, a Class Act.

    best regards,

    Terry

  7. Stan Williams
    | Reply

    A fascinating read. You are my hero and inspiration.

  8. Jane Anderson
    | Reply

    Followed your run on youtube. Cried when you fell. Thrilled to read this race report. I hope to do Comrades one day. I just hope to finish. thank you. http://www.jane.run

  9. Scott Craig-Mackie
    | Reply

    Congratulations, you are an amazing Champion and an amazing role model for all of society. May the Lord bless you.

  10. Lelanie
    | Reply

    Wow!!! You have me in tears! Thank you for sharing your heart!! 2016 was my 1st one and I finished in 11:37, and yes, it feels like I can now do anything! You are a remarkable women and athlete!

  11. Kyle
    | Reply

    Well Done Caroline. You are a true champion and reading this makes me hold you up as my heroine even more. Humbled but never quitting. The spirit of comrades is definitely seen here.

  12. Jasper
    | Reply

    You are amazing.

  13. Irfaan Allie Jaffer
    | Reply

    Having watched that race and the way you struggled from 60km and ultimately crossing the finish line(in 2nd! INCREDIBILE) I felt enormously proud and elated at what had unfolded. I have never seen another runner enjoy their running as much as you do, and to see you smile all the way despite having experienced excruciating pain was inspirational. You may not have won Comrades 2016, but you have won the hearts and minds of South Africa – and that is worth more than any medal you may ever achieve. I hope to see you running(and winning) countless more races but most of all don’t ever lose the passion you clearly have for running. Congratulations on your wonderful achievements, you truly are an AMBASSADOR to young and old, male and female.

  14. Vicus vd Merwe
    | Reply

    You are an inspiration…

    I also had plans to run sub 9H but after 45km my body was tired BUT I continued and finished as you did.

    Very well done and an excellent year of running so far!

    Keep inspiring!

  15. wonita
    | Reply

    Wow what an amazing story. You are an absolute champion in my eyes. So inspirational. I watched your entire race. I cried for you. I prayed for you. I cheered for you. I screamed for you, I clapped for you and if I could run for you I would have. You were So brave. The determination on your face showed even though your cap was pulled down low over your face. You showed the whole nation if not the whole world about what it means to be a true champion. You humbled me. I praise God for people like you who show us how it’s done. All things are possible through Christ who gives us strength.
    Thank you for sharing this amazing recount of your perfect day.
    God is awesome. Bless you Carol. May you go on to achieve even greater things.

  16. Lesetja
    | Reply

    You just made me cry. This race really humble many people. And you just defined the word humbled. You are a true champion Caroline. And a role model to many Runners in the whole world.

  17. Toy Dupper
    | Reply

    Thank you for being such a gracious, humble and relatable champion. Two of my three Comrades runs were each 60km+ of cramping hell and extremely frustrating. I can run a decent 10k & 21km race (4-4:15m/km) but I cramp before the 30km mark at Comrades…
    I have now seen you run on a really really good day (Oceans 2015) and a really tough one and both were equally inspiring.
    Your status as a South African running icon is well deserved.

  18. Karla Kirchner
    | Reply

    Wow, what an amazing witness of how sport and faith can build caracter and that the mind is such powerful tool. Well done tou you and everyone that completed the race. To God be the glory!

  19. Francois Jordaan
    | Reply

    WOW!!! What an honest and truthful recollection of events and an absolutely great story. Hats off to you Caroline, you felt good and you went for the record, no regrets! No one will ever be able to say you were just there for another win or that you played it safe. Records will be broken and I am sure you will have many behind your name in the near future. Good luck with the rest of 2016 and the build-up to the 2017 season.

  20. Gerdi
    | Reply

    Still a wonderful achievement and very inspiring. Keep on going.

  21. Nola Joubert
    | Reply

    You are a star. Welldone you finished.

  22. Analia Roxana Blanco
    | Reply

    We share similar stories, except i probably opted for plan B before plan A and ended up with a Plan A- which was more than i could ever have wished for. I, also had been forced to do a dramatic taper the whole of May due to chain reaction injuries. The day before, I’d asked your coach(Lindsay) for advice on whether I should run given my multiple pains which hadn’t subsided til that point despite antiinflamms and he wasn’t profuse with encouragement, so i had actually decided to go support and not run. However, things flipped in my brain thereafter jsut in time to get my bib on and attempt it. I, also, am in the habit of asking God for signs. Things just work better for me that way, when I go with, instead of against my gut. It’s the ego that sometimes gets in the way and doesn’t let one listen to one’s body. I’m bereaved with sorrow for yr situation during those last few minutes. It was definitely close. But, like you eloquently put it, defeat is intrinsic to success and without failure we can never really know what winning is. Thanks for sharing your experience! You have many fans who are looking forward to your next achievement!

  23. Hester van den Heever
    | Reply

    You truly inspired me to start training for my first comrades next year if God’s willing. Well done & thank you for sharing your race report.

  24. Collet van zyl
    | Reply

    Ek bewonder jou jys insperasie vir my ekt dit een keer probeer en by pollysshort op gekramp ook so naby gewees maar my lyf wou ni verder ni

  25. Marnie Steyn
    | Reply

    You are such an inspiration to us all. Showing us that it all starts with your mind set. I’d you want it then you will get it as long as your mind is focused on getting there. Keep on inspiring us and to me you are always the winner.

  26. Ron Pretorius
    | Reply

    you are an inspiration to us all Caroline – by giving thanks, and graciously taking second place to a deserving winner, but most of all – sharing those moments with us, your fans and fellow runners! what a wonderful ambassador for the sport, and our beloved country. well done, and all the very best for your running career. fond regards – RP

  27. Wes
    | Reply

    Hi Caroline, trust you have recovered well. I just wanted to say to you, you are the stuff legends are made of. Saw you come through Kloof just before the Nedbank Green Mile, with that awesome smile on your face and thought today the record books will be rewritten. Maybe the time was not, but I can assure you, in our hearts the records have been rewritten. Your gracious words in your post race interview later in the day, showed why you are our champion. You displayed a huge amount of raw guts and determination, and accepted gracefully that it was not to be your day, and offered no excuses, but only compliments to Charne. You have been the inspiration for me to get back on the road and tackle the Comrades again along with quite a few “retired” running mates next year. Thank you for being such a shining light. You are our CHAMPION.

    Regards
    Wes

  28. Blanche Louw
    | Reply

    Oh what an inspiration you are all around. Such a joy supporting you in your running side of life. Needless to say I am also a runner. I am 33 and admire you. Well done on the lessons you have learnt and thanks for sharing it with us. I really enjoyed reading your 2016 Comrades experience. My fiance and I were aching in pain with you from following it on tv. Rest well and keep doing what you do.

  29. Riana
    | Reply

    Well done awesome lady, you are such an inspiration to all of us! Xxx

  30. patience khumalo
    | Reply

    wow caroline, I’m so inspired by you. you are the best thing that has ever happened to ultra running. We love you my sister

  31. Nadia
    | Reply

    Inspirational …. you made me realize that I can do anything. Your humility is admirable, your tenacity is mesmerizing, most of all your constant smile is infectious. May our nation see and emulate these qualities.

  32. Graham Hough
    | Reply

    Awesome reading, so inspirational. I will definitely be one of the first to buy your book when you bring it out.

  33. Graham Hough
    | Reply

    Awesome reading, so inspirational. I will definitely be one of the first to buy your book when you bring it out.

  34. Tyron
    | Reply

    You are an absolute inspiration. Thank you for sharing this

  35. Charmaine Janse van Rensburg
    | Reply

    Inspirational.
    Enjoy your Ironman 70.3

  36. Mike Maxwell
    | Reply

    Caroline to me watching the race on tv you are still a champion in my eyes a lot of people Would have thrown the towel in just there I run to I was told by a friend who has run 4 comrades saidi if your legs are tierd run with your heart and you did Mike

  37. Rentia
    | Reply

    Caroline! I have tears in my eyes. Thanks for sharing your story, and the perspective you put on the ultimate human race. I was watching JK Rowling’s speech to Harvard Graduates a few years ago, which she titled: The benefits of failure. There are a lot of similarities between your story, although I am in no way suggesting that your race was a failure. On the contrary. We are so proud of you. From another mother of two (not completely rid of the babyfat), who completed my first Comrades this year. Unbelievable for me to even be in the same event as athletes like yourself. All the best with your rest, until next time. xxx

  38. Anthea
    | Reply

    GOD bless you always Caroline. We felt your pain. You were awesome on the day. Hope you recovering well and know that you have the support of all who love this wonderful sport of running.

  39. Alan
    | Reply

    Well done on hanging in and embracing the true spirit of comrades. Participating. Well written,no excuses, the truth will set you free, and you will achieve that record. Continue to believe in yourself.

  40. Sindi Tokwe
    | Reply

    What a great human story. I learn perseverance from you on that day and gratitude. To read this story indeed humbles me with teary eyes. To write this and the gratitude you show when Bosman passed you that’s greatness . You are the greatest my Hero my Superwoman. All the best you made that Comrades 2015 to be the one I will never forget. Everytime I think about giving up your visual comes into my mind. Got Respect for you woman.

  41. Reney
    | Reply

    You are such an inspiration, I am just a runner, I run to finish but for me that is good. After reading your comrades report … You really are my hero. I will always run and think of what I have read here … That winning is not always about actually winning but finishing. I did not manage to run this year because of injuries, this week I have started training again. My goal to finish in 10hrs. Good luck and thank you for sharing your journey.

  42. Hannes Rossouw
    | Reply

    Inspiring words!

  43. Musa Ngwadi
    | Reply

    I still say to me & some runners i know, you were our winner. I know without any doubt that this run taught u so much & u’re gonna come back even stronger next year. By the way i run as well my 2nd comrades & my cramping started @ Cato Ridge but managed to finish as well. Keep up the excellent work u do. God bless.

  44. Hasanain
    | Reply

    You’re an inspiration.

  45. Marcelle
    | Reply

    You will never know what your limits are, if you don’t go where you haven’t been before, and that takes GUTS! Few people have guts, because the fear of failing is stronger. But you my friend took that risk. You might not have reached your goal, but at least you didn’t fail….becauce you didn’t give up! I’m looking forward to see you break the record. Go for it Caroline.

  46. riekus
    | Reply

    Caroline’s 2016 story confirms she is a true champion – who could not be defeated in the face of adversity! We saw her on the Friday before comrades, extremly humble despite her achievements. Know she will have an even more suceasful year than 2015 and 2016 put together! Follow the game plan and achieve new hights in 2017!

  47. Suzette Westhof
    | Reply

    What an amazing true “story” of learning more of yourself, growing in faith and really feel one of the rainbow nation and many others too. Well done, Caroline!!

  48. Ammie Botes
    | Reply

    Wow Caroline, you make me believe that the impossible can be possible. My 1st attempt was 2013, I failed miserably…..
    Its my heart’s desire, to complete the big C!!!!
    Well done you absolutely awesome, I watched you the hole time…cry, laught and jump for joy & frustration on your behalf.

  49. Kutlwano
    | Reply

    Caroline the support, compassion you received on the day was nothing that we had not received from you before. On comrades day I was seconding, saw you at Drummond( have beautiful picture which I tweeted:)) , after seeing you I tweeted something along the lines of “Caroline is all sorts of amazing, she is not your typical top runner”. We connect with you because you connect with us at your best and naturally at your worst we will be there for you to surge you to the finish line. You are certainly one of a kind and 2016 Comrades lessons will propel you to greater to breaking records. Don’t be afraid of dreaming, lots of love @Kut1wano

  50. Tommy Malone
    | Reply

    Caroline I can identify with your cramp situation on Comrades day . One never knows what the great race will throw at you . Beautiful article .

  51. Sibongile
    | Reply

    Salute To you Caroline. You won your own race, you didn’t quit amidst the difficulties and setbacks experienced on race down. You were very brave. Sometimes it is not about winning the race but learning the lessons presented to you and discovering important qualities about yourself.
    I am no coach, but I did get worried about the number of wins you were achieving yet defending your title at comrades. But then I thought gee, you are so good and you are at your peak. God was I crossing fingers for you. You were not first but still believe you did quite well.

    All I know for sure is that you’ll be back and you are going to win Comrades once more. You are that good and in great shape.

    Hope you are recovering well and taking a good rest.

    Take good care
    Sibongile

  52. Masiu Pasela
    | Reply

    One Important leasson I learned is Never give up until the finish line regardless all hardship encountered along.#keeponmoving

  53. Tracey
    | Reply

    Such an amazing testimony to God’s grace. Such inspiring words too that through real tough times, where we think things are not going our way, God still blesses us with another type of victory. I watched the race from New Zealand, on my laptop, and last 10kms had me biting all my nails. Hubby thought I was nuts. Well done for showing the crowd that victory is not necessarily a first on the podium. For most of us weekend warriors, a first, or second, or tenth will never transpire, but we can still feel victorious by pushing through our own limits…….damn I need to go for a trail run now. Ps) you spoke of what next……perhaps some trail races?

  54. Hlengy Ndawonde
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing, thank you for inspiring me. What a moving report. God bless you and keep you around to inspire us. Well done on all your achievments my lady.

  55. Fatima Davids
    | Reply

    Beautiful story,Amazing woman we cheered from in front of our TV and we cried for you…..what a victory at the end YOU finished and made us proud of you and also made us realize that anything is possible…Well done in my eyes you WE’RE the winner!!!!!!God bless

  56. Frederick Shabalala
    | Reply

    You have rekindled the love of running in many of us. Especially black women. The unfortunate incident of cramping ironically confirmed that we are correct in loving you. In your lowest point you continued to unleash and embrace the love for the sport and the fans.

  57. victor
    | Reply

    Wowwwww

  58. Heinrich Heuer
    | Reply

    Just one thought: “Please don’t break the record by too much next year!!!!”

  59. Tebele Molata
    | Reply

    Wow wow!!! True champion with buckets filled with humility. Thank you Caroline. You are my hero. It’s about time that you write a book about your running

  60. Roger
    | Reply

    So very well written, and so inspiring.

    We watched the race from Australia. And wished we were there.

  61. Mafico
    | Reply

    A really great story. Thank you for sharing how your journey unfolded from the start to finish. When you collided with the motorbike, I thought you were being sabotaged.

  62. mpho Tjiane
    | Reply

    It is humbling story Well done Caroline. I was part of the comrade marathon it humbling …

  63. Andrew Young
    | Reply

    Wonderful story. One that anyone who has run Comrades, can identify with.

  64. Lorraine Howard
    | Reply

    What a super and inspiring article. My niece, Lisa Collett, who also competed and suffered severe cramps, forwarded it to me. I live in Ireland and was tracking Lisa but on our family chat everyone was watching you too and the concern they felt when you fell, or went down, was palpable 6000 miles away and I hoped and prayed you could, and would, finish. Yes, life doesn’t always pan out as we either have planned, or wished, but getting up and moving on in the correct direction is what counts. Congratulations for finishing. Thank you for writing this article. Lisa also finished thank goodness, after having so much encouragement from the supporters along the way. She read your article sitting on the beach with waves crashing over the rocks. Well done to all who did the Comrades. Those who could not finish for some reason, perhaps next year will be better for you. You are all heroes. Every one of you. I salute you.

  65. Wellington
    | Reply

    Well done Caroline, excellent story and lesson for all of us with the gift of running. So many lessons to take away from your blog. Ultimately you are an amazing woman and I am very proud to have shared some runs with you at Breakthru. You proved that anybody can rise from nothing to everything IF YOU ARE READY TO WORK!

    Knowing you, what happened to you this year is going to bring the best Caralonine the world has ever seen so I look forward to you springboarding on this life lesson as you call it.

    Well done and good luck in your future races.

  66. Bart
    | Reply

    I am a 80 year old fan of yours and as sportsman i watched the suffering that you experienced over the last couple of kilos and cried for you never mind you will be back next year and i will be watching from George where i live. Best of luck to you.

  67. Irfaan Haniff
    | Reply

    Well done Caroline I am a Comrades follower and wanted you to win as you deserved it but maybe next year

  68. Yushaa
    | Reply

    Caroline you are a star and will always be my hero! Much like Madiba you have united and inspired the nation. Even though the day didn’t pan out the way you thought, it was still a huge success. I wish you all the best for the future.

  69. Jeanette
    | Reply

    You are a true inspiration. I felt your pain on that day and although my heart broke for you, you made us all proud.

  70. Iain Toomey
    | Reply

    Well done Caroline! U did amazingly well to finish let alone come 2nd
    There will always be the next down run!
    Just a word of advice, not mine but Bruce’s, he said more than once in the past if ur goal is to break the record then set the goals for the Comrades as follows;
    Finish!
    Win!
    & if those two are guaranteed then go for the record not the other way round!
    But u will break the record in the future of that I am sure!
    Keep well & listen to your body!
    Cheers
    Iain

  71. Debra Slabbert
    | Reply

    Caroline watching you on the day of the Comrades made me feel proud to be a South African as its in these breathtaking moments we all unite as one.

    Seeing you cramp and in pain, watching you collide with the motorbikes and acknowledge that you made the mistake, seeing you fall all the events had me in tears. They were tears of encouragement, I even voiced them to you through the TV knowing you could not hear me. I was “coaching” from the couch like all couch potato do. I was saying “girl you can do this, listen to your body even though your heart is saying something different, take it easy, finish the race but don’t hurt yourself it’s not worth dying over”.

    We lost my brother in law this year at the Constantia Village race, he was 49. I have a feeling he knew he was in trouble, when he stopped to drink at a watering hole and one person asked if he was okay as he didn’t look good he should have listened. I think sitting there he thought okay I just have to get onto Ladies Mile then into the bend and home. He got up and started going, he passed away just seconds before Ladies Mile. What awesome people assisted him, the runners never thought of themselves and times they wanted to better. They forgot all about that in an attempt to assist one of “their own”.

    Its a bitter sweet day that changed the lives of an entire family. I wish that when the other lady passed you, she could have put her hand out in acknowledgment of your struggle yet your determination. She would have received even more than just winning that day, yes your mind is focused and looking back I’m sure she thinks the same.

    Please always listen correctly to your body. God made us perfectly so that when we hurt it is because of a reason.

    Well done, you are amazing and a true winner in my eyes. May God continue to walk ever closely to you.

    Regards
    Debbie

  72. Tommy Malone
    | Reply

    Caroline , I can identify with your cramp problem on Comrades day . One never knows what the great race has in store for us . Great article .

  73. Tommy Malone
    | Reply

    Caroline , I can identify with your cramp problem on Comrades day . One never knows what the great race has in store for us . Great article .

  74. Kitso
    | Reply

    Caroline what an inspiration you are to me! Lessons learned and your faith in God are relevant even for me! Thanks for the wonderful story you shared! All the best and speedy recovery!

  75. Lynette
    | Reply

    Oh Caroline….what an amazing journey your 2016 Camrades was, and indeed what an amazing life journey you have been blessed with since your 2015 Oceans and Comrades Victories.
    God has a wonderful way of keeping us grounded, humble and keeping our focus in Him and not on what we want to achieve for ourselves.
    Love yourself, Love the body God has given you and nuture the beautiful talent and strength He has blessed you with. Keep training – not over training, keep running and smiling and keep Loving your heavenly Father and the rest will all fall into place for the amazing plan He has for your life and your future. Jeremiah 29:11.
    Enjoy IronMan – think you are going to Love it too!!!

  76. jafta Mahlangu
    | Reply

    Wow,what an article .
    I am really inspired by you Caroline, you did us proud after so much suffering and pain but manage to cross the finishing. Indeed the spirit of perseverance lives in you. I am humbled. I have done my 5th comrades 2017 I am doing my 6th one. All the best for future.Viva my compatriot….

  77. Tebogo
    | Reply

    So inspiring…well done Caroline. Well written.

  78. Don Masasanya
    | Reply

    Caroline very inspirational in all sense of the word. Reading this report is indèed a true account of the Comrades journey for each one of us. It is however the humility that Caroline carries herself – winning or coming second- that places her amongst a special breed of people that always embrace the life lessons as we expereince them through each Comrades run irrespective of how many you have run. That charming smile even when things are tough is a special gift not many of us are blessed with. U trully moving account of your race experience that inspires me to document just my own. Stay special and best wishes in all your forthcoming race experiences. Don

  79. Daphne Strauss
    | Reply

    Well done. What courage that.only God could have.given you. May.He bless and keep.you. Sincere regards. Keep smiling

  80. Rhodes kent
    | Reply

    True champion and a pleasure to watch on the day. Great to see the South African ladies having such a great time and being wildly competitive. Fantastic stuff and very humbling article. Awesome

  81. Mike Kellett
    | Reply

    You are now truelly a Comrade Caroline…You did yourself all of us proud by Soldiering on!

  82. Raven
    | Reply

    Congrats. You ran with heart and gave of your best. The mind is always willing as you put it but the flesh is weak. No one can judge your effort. At the end of the day, you can always say you lived fight another day as long as you are breathing.

    Keep well and all the best looking forward to see you win more races

  83. Lisl
    | Reply

    And this is why I wanted your autograph at the SPAR ladies race launch. Thank you!

  84. Bernice
    | Reply

    Caroline, you are an absolute inspiration. I only run 21km races (maximum), and from now on, when things get tough, I will not moan and groan about it, but instead remember the humbling Comrades Marathon you had, and push through to the finish holding my head up high as you did. Thank you for inspiring me not to give up when things get tough.

  85. Nkosithandile Kolanisi
    | Reply

    A very inspirational story indeed…!!! Will definitely come in handy as I make my second attempt to get my first Comrades medal in 2017. ????

  86. Taryn Miller
    | Reply

    Dear Caroline, thank you for sharing your heartfelt reflection on your race. I’m not only inspired by your perseverance in the midst of your disappointment, but also the lessons you learnt in your faith journey. I believe the best is yet to come from you. You have helped me to believe the same of myself.

  87. B.Naidoo
    | Reply

    I am ???? back of the line packer….your last two sentences…is truly an inspiration and motivation for all of us that seek the comrades dream…

  88. Diane Bone
    | Reply

    Inspirational to read my sincere congratulations of your achievement along with the hundreds/thousands of others with such a dream of being there in body and soul together.

  89. Judith Conlin
    | Reply

    Caroline, you are a legend.
    You epitomise what the Comrades Marathon really means – it’s not about winning or times. When the going gets tough, you work your way through it, you take one step at a time, always moving forward, and you reach that finishing line. The real pain starts if you stop & give up. Well done.
    You will come back stronger & wiser next year I’m sure.

  90. Marietjie Jansen van Rensburg
    | Reply

    Wow…thank you for sharing. this is awesome….for me who never run the comrades, was an excellent runner, and would have love to do it at least once, it never happened for me.

  91. Yolandi
    | Reply

    Absolutely heart warming!!!! Such a great woman!

  92. Michelle Cronje
    | Reply

    Caroline, wow I am so inspired by reading this article. I am such a big fan and I felt heartbroken for you on that day, but the way that you just kept on smiling and running, even in so much pain and how you kept a great attitude, showed me your character and your true colors. I am soooooooo extremely proud of you will always be such an inspiration to me and I know to so many others!!

  93. Rochelle
    | Reply

    Dearest Caroline

    Your journey is inspiring. I am sure you are inundated with letters and emails from people all the time because you have allowed the average person to dream their dream by showing them that believing and perseverance makes the impossible possible.

    I ran my first Comrades this year and the age of 36, 11 months after the birth of my 3rd baby. My time was a very proud 9:12. I am also a CA and a mom and you have been an inspiration for me to get out there and run no matter how little time you think you have.

    Thank you for being the role model that you are and I wish you well and the many goals I am sure you have set for yourself!

    Fond regards,

    Rochelle

  94. Roger Brooke
    | Reply

    As an old Comrades runner and silver medalist in 1987, I was rooting for you. I love your blog. Your perspective and good cheer model the best in all of us. I am a 63 year old fan! 🙂

  95. Andre Du Toit
    | Reply

    Wow! Sooooo proud of you and Charne…”A winner is NOT a person who wins. A winner is a person who TRIES to do his/her best”. On the day everyone who TRIED to do their best is ultimately a WINNER. Thank you Caroline for just being the person and athlete who you are…your achievements and love of life gives us so much JOY.

  96. Neo
    | Reply

    Wow…what an inspiring account. As i read it over and over tears well up in my eyes..Caroline you are an inspiration for us all!

  97. Siphiwe
    | Reply

    You keep inspiring us. Thank you.

  98. Yugeshan
    | Reply

    I did my first Comrades and Two Oceans this year and finished both! Meeting you and hearing your story inspired me! Keep pushing! Keep telling your story and being so humble about it! It’s very empowering

  99. Williemae Appleroth
    | Reply

    Keep on writing, great job!

  100. dani
    | Reply

    “I really like your writing style, good info, thanks for posting. “Let every man mind his own business.”

  101. Rachel T Chinyoka
    | Reply

    Wow, words fail me! Your experience is teaching us a lot. Thank you for sharing.

  102. Yacon Root
    | Reply

    I enjoyed this site. It’s an interesting read.

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