With only a few days until the Comrades Marathon, I am almost persuaded to head to town and welcome the weary runners, take pictures and grab a piece of the action. I chuckle too as I remember my BIG DISGRACE. I once ran in a marathon too, sponsored by Milo in a tiny town called Mtuthama. That was years ago, after running for miles and being so far back (the very last probably)the so-called 'support' team drove close to us taunting my friend and I: 'come on, just get into the b****y truck. You are wasting everybody's time. (and then in the spirit of being professional, adding, 'of course it's your right to run'.)
Of course we gave up, got into the truck and quit. I think we had gone way past the half-way mark and I was ELEVEN YEARS OLD. Looking back, the support staff weren't my problem, it was the house mistress. She proudly handed out awards to all in our hippo house 'who had finished the marathon'. so yours trully, probably the youngest marathon runner in the history of the institution, and who did not possess the mental ability to resist the taunting of a 'support' staff, was relagated to the margins. I felt disgraced, 'If only I had finished! I would have been recognised by my house mistress!' Years later I realise that it wasn't my disgrace, it was the disgrace of those that failed to notice the budding of a could-have-been athletic career. They could have chosen to support and nurture it. But, hey, like many of us, they chose to work with what they already had.
Lesson to me, the Big Disgrace is gone. When it comes to marathons, a lot can be learned; both from the spirit of the winner and that of the enduring runner, young and old, fit and unfit at the back of the race: for they all run the race....and finish the race. Watch 'Run, fat boy, run'.