As most of my closest friends already know, the process of getting to the Comrades Marathon 2010 starting line was tough. First it was the training, which started with a few hiccups late last year and some more this year. Then it was the long run to get my passport renewed in time, which finally happened just about 10 days before I was to leave. Then the rush to get my visa in time for my flights which were on May 26th. I got the visa just a day before in a day which preceded and filled with unfortunate instances which made me really wonder if I was really supposed to go there at all.
May 26 – Arrival in Durban
However, after all was said and done, I was finally able to leave for Durban via Dubai on Emirates on their recently launched service, and on the evening of May 26th landed on the newly opened King Shaka Airport in Durban. It was 5’ish in the evening when we landed and the sun was already setting down and it got dark by 5:30 pm in contrast to India where its pretty good light even by 7:00 pm. It was good to find out that we would be staying at a place which was right at the Durban Beachfront. However, the place gets lonely and quiet pretty soon in the evenings, unlike the kind of buzz we see in places like these in India.
May 27 – International Ambassadors Run and Visit to the Expo
Morning was amazing, facing the sea and the rising sun. Morning 8:00 am was supposed to be a get together at the Hilton for a nice and easy run with the offically appointed Comrades Ambassadors from various countries, and we went from Hilton to the Durban beach front till the UShaka Marine World right at the end of the South Beach for an easy 5K run, and were sweating heavily by the end of it due to the high coastal humidity.
Returned back to the Hilton and to the Expo which is just opposite Hilton. Its been set up in a large area and is what every running expo should be like, filled with stuff which runners want, unlike all those expo’s in India which sell wares which have little to do with running at all. I saw the famous twins, Elena and Olesya Nurgalieva, who have made it a habit of winning Comrades amongst themselves, alternating every year for the winning twin!
May 28 – Bus Tour of the Comrades Route
Well, it was supposed to be a bus tour, until we met a couple of folks of Indian origin, Karan and Meena, who graciously offered to take us for the route tour with them, an offer we could not refuse. The view from the car gave a better understanding of the ups and downs that perhaps what sitting in a bus can offer. Plus we were showered with a lot of advice coming from an experience runner like Karan who was done something like 15 Comrades.
After the bus tour, we just spent some time again at the Expo checking out things. The rush today was almost double of what it was a day before, probably due to the arrival of more local folks from various parts of South Africa. The foods stalls had some night stuff for carbo loading too. I managed to meet Vlam of the “Vlam 12 hour bus” fame, the red (or orange) haired guy who will be leading the 12 hour bus (or the pacing group which targets a 12 hour finish). Vlam mentioned that he is looking for a 11:52 finish.
In a Couple of Days – the Race
Today evening is supposed to be day when you need to get your sleep and we will try to be in bed by 6 pm or latest 7 pm. Tomorrow night would be a tough one, and I would probably be tossing and turning in bed in anticipation of the run, so its better to get that sleep tonight. The plan for 30th morning is to leave by 3:30 am for Pietermaritzburg for the race start.