So despite the internal mutiny of an exhausted body, as I approach Kloof Station, my mind is still in control. But whatever mental reserves I retain, I know they are inadequate for the sight that now confronts me. From Kloof Station, at the top of Field’s Hill, the Comrades plays its most evil trick. Experience tells me not to look, that should I for one second divert my eyes from the road, I will most likely not finish. But I have no discipline, and I see it laid before me: the final, infinite 25 km that separate me from Durban and the finish at the Kingsmead cricket ground.
In each race, I have learned, the desire to quit comes but once. It is a coward who once beaten does not return. But as I begin the descent of Field’s Hill, even this knowledge is of no assistance. My second, who must wait anxiously 4 km away in Pinetown, is forbidden to help me on this major highway, and my mind hovers in the balance. I progress now only because it is automatic; it takes time to switch the engine off.
Womens Weight Loss Tips Photo Gallery
And here on this major descent I am joined by the final tormentor. The continual jarring of the sharp descents from Inchanga, Botha’s Hill Village, and Hillcrest has taken its toll on my quadriceps, and every step now sends an ever-more-painful shock down each thigh. The muscles are in rebellion; depleted of energy, their connective tissues are now coming apart. I am a physical coward in the best of circumstances, and the added pain is too much; my tenuous willpower crumbles. I become Maurice Hertzog descending from his epic first ascent of Annapurna (Hertzog, 1952): “It’s all over, Lionel, I am finished. Leave me alone and let me die” (Terray, 1975, p. 293).
You may think that even now I could still walk, that a few minutes of rest would restore the desire to live and would defeat the coward within. But you would be wrong, for the discomfort I feel exceeds my ability to recall or describe it. “After 18 miles,” wrote David Costill (Sheehan, 1978b), the world’s foremost running physiologist, “the sensations of exhaustion were unlike anything I had ever experienced. I could not run, walk or stand, and even found sitting a bit strenuous” (p. 204). Were the human brain able to recall the pain of Field’s Hill, no one would ever run the “down” Comrades twice.
This, then, is the point that each runner must pass in order to arrive in Durban on two feet. It is here, stripped of any of society’s false privileges, that we find no hiding place, no shelter of convenience. Face-to-face with ourselves we must look deep inside. “Those hills and the miles beyond,” wrote George Sheehan (1978b, p. 215), “will challenge everything he holds dear, his value system, his life style. They will ask nothing less than his view of the universe. ”