I have just entered Leonard for the 2016 Comrades Marathon! He will run his second Comrades and should get his back to back medal.
|Leonard, back at work, sporting his first Comrades medal|
I first met Leonard a couple of months before we opened Woodlands parkrun in 2013. I had dropped off some fliers at the Engen garage where he works as a petrol attendant. He mentioned that he was a runner and I invited him to join parkrun. His employer, Ben, was an early supporter of our parkrun and would regularly supply the runners with water.
Over time, I got friendly with Leonard and he expressed an interest in running Comrades 2015. Ben agreed to sponsor Leonard and I said I would happily assist Leonard to join a club and do the admin of online race entries. So, this time last year I entered Leonard for Comrades 2015 and over the months that followed, signed him up with Nedbank Running Club, arranged his entry for City2City Ultra, Soweto Marathon, Tough One, Pick n Pay marathon and a few others.
Leonard had a good Comrades run, finishing in 11:03. He is capable of doing better (based on a PB at Woodlands parkrun of 21:05) but all went well given the circumstances of his training opportunities with his shift work. Travel to races was also a problem. He has since connected with a group of Soweto runners who assist him with travel at times but mostly with local long training runs. He is now training for the City2City ultra marathon, to qualify for Comrades 2016.
Leonard travelled to Comrades 2015 with Vreni of RAC. She organises a Comrades Trip for a reasonable rate of R2500 - R3000 depending on the chosen accommodation . The travelers get a return bus trip to Durban, 3 nights shared accommodation at a Durban hotel and 3 dinners and 3 breakfasts. This provided Leonard with the opportunity to meet veteran Comrades runners and a few novices. One of his great joys is that his room mate didn't finish this race, his 5th Comrades and Leonard did. Apparently a fair number on the return bus didn't managed to finish, which just makes Leonard even more proud. He is so grateful for the wonderful experience he had on the bus and the hotel, the support, encouragement and involvement of everybody and he can't wait to go again next year.
For this, credit is due to Vreni who provides the trip for people who don't have means and/or access to arrange all that is required to get down to the race. Fortunately for Leonard, Ben covers his costs and even throws in a pair of shoes but there are a number of road runners that don't get to experience Comrades Marathon.
I have committed to Vreni to do all that I can to raise money to assist in getting some of these runners down to Durban. In the past I have run Comrades as an Amabedi supporter, raising over R5000 for Pink Drive and World Vision. This year, even though I am not running Comrades, my goal is to raise R5000 to get two runners down to Durban to run Comrades Comrades 2016!
I am not yet sure how I am going to do this so, ideas and suggestions are most welcome!! We (if you have read this far, you are involved) have approximately 7 months to get this done!