Admiration

by Maretha Langenhoven

I was searching for a quote on “admiration” but could not find one that truly reflects what I feel for Hanno and this project.  Perhaps I mistakenly call it admiration.

It is true that due to unforeseen injury and illness, Hanno was not able to run the entire route from Johannesburg to Pietermaritzburg and he had to make a very difficult decision to at some point call it a day and rather rest and recover to ultimately be ready for Comrades 2014.

This decision you can imagine came with heavy hearts, lots of disappointment, baskets full of frustration and what I admire most of this is that his ego was not too big to make the better decision.  It would have been so much easier to listen to Mr. Ego and out of concern of what others might say or think, continued running/walking and in the end, most likely have compromised what the entire project is about… running Comrades barefoot.

With less than a week to the big Comrades day, we are resting and preparing in the beautiful little town of Munster on the South Coast.  At the hospitality of Miems and Christo de Klerk, we can rest, enjoy sunrise walks on the beach, watch the excitement of their dogs playing in the surf, explore the surrounding areas and somehow prepare for next Sunday.  I for one am constantly busy with anticipation, a bit of anxiety and trying to make sense of the magnitude of next Sunday in my head, perhaps because I cannot imagine how running a marathon such as this is possible let alone barefoot.  I salute every athlete, friend and family member running the Comrades this year or who had done so in the past with great respect.

When “Barefoot Comrades 2014” project conceptualized a year ago, we knew from the start it was not going to be easy but rather frustrating, challenging and painful at times.  We have learned so much from this experience, met so many awesome people and made lifelong friends.  We never thought this project will be so huge as just over 221km has been sponsored and as a result Real Life will be planting vegetable gardens for around 100 schools later this year.

With Comrades kilometers counted, Hanno will have run 245km’s in total for this project.  He did this selflessly and apart from having the fuel and some logistics sponsored he did it with no personal gain as he did not draw a cent or received any income through this project in fact he had gracefully accepted the financial impact it had on our lives as well.

I want to say publicly that I am proud of Hanno.  Not many people in my opinion have what it takes to do a project like this for a greater good, alone with no support (other than myself and our little Marhané), no matter how hard it gets.  Not many people in my opinion have the courage and the determination to do so barefoot.

I am also so grateful for every positive message, every motivational phone call, every person who supported Hanno in any way without judgment and negative criticism as I’ve seen the effect each one had on him…. Thank YOU!!!  It isn’t over yet so please keep it up J

Next updates will be on COMRADES DAY!

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The Journey: Day 1

A day of little mishaps, a few delays but finally a start. Well, both the celebration of a start as well as the start of a journey of self-discovery and celebration. The 1st of May will always be a day of celebration in South Africa, a day of remembering and celebrating the freedom we hold so dear.

This turned out to be one of the highlights of the day, starting the journey down to Durban at the Johannesburg Civic Center and running past and through numerous celebrations of May 1st, Freedom Day! However, running through Jozi started almost an hour late due to a few changes to my running set-up in the form of a newly acquired sim card and telephone number for the journey. Thus you can reach Barefoot Comrades 2014 en route on 0825155116.

Finally out of the city I headed out towards Alberton, truly starting the journey to Durban. 40 minutes later and heading into Alberton the first mishap struck, getting lost; at least a little. The result little extra twists and turns during the day’s run. Luckily this was not to be the final step of the day. I finally left Alberton behind and headed out toward Heidelberg.

The final little mishap arrived in the form of my wonderful back-up team struggling to find me, partly because I explored the unbeaten path and the team struggling to work the more advanced aspects of our trusty Daihatsu’s onboard GPS 😛 Luckily this was also quickly resolved and everyone headed back home at the end of stage 1.

We are grateful for a successful first day with a number of lessons learned. The first, make certain of the day’s route. The second, know how to work all the functions of the onboard GPS. And finally, know when compromises are needed.  The last came in the form of the surface of the blacktop somewhere between Alberton and Heidelberg. The road suddenly turned into minor blades and forward motion slowed down drastically. This made me realize that during the course of the journey down to Durban Barefoot might need to make way for Minimal in order to line up for Comrades Marathon on the 1st of June. I am certain this will make my friend Grant Hayward smile, but sometimes a tool is needed for the job, and then it is wise to use it and not to be stubborn and persist with ego or preconceived ideas.

So tired and grateful, a nights rest is welcome and Heidelberg around the corner. So stay safe and keep those feet moving.

Hanno Langenhoven, proud member of Pirates Running Club, at the start of the Barefoot Comrades 2014 journey in Johannesburg

Hanno Langenhoven, proud member of Pirates Running Club, at the start of the Barefoot Comrades 2014 journey in Johannesburg.

The Challenge by Numbers

5 May 2014. That is the day my training journey is headed to, the day that the Barefoot Comrades 2014 journey will start at 158 Loveday street in Johannesburg with the aim to be in Durban on the 1ste of June 2014 any time before 17:30 the afternoon.

In the process I will run a total of approximately 664 kilometers (664 000 metres).

The Challenge comes in two parts. The first part of the challenge is to run from Johannesburg to Pietermaritzburg which hosts the start of Comrades 2014. The second part is to line up on the 1st of June at the start of the Comrades and complete it before the cut-off gun sounds the end of the race.

The first part of the challenge consists of 577 kilometers (577 000 meters). The plan is to complete this distance over a time of 23 days, which include 4 rest days.

  • This comes down to an average of 30.37 kilometers (30 370 meters) for every running day.
  • The longest running day will be on the 23rd of May when I will be running from Mooirivier to Howick. The total distance of the day will be just shy of a full marathon at 41.2 kilometers (41 200 meters).
  • The shortest running day will be on the 27th of May, the final leg to the Comrades office at 18 Connaught rd. The distance for the day an easy 10.8 kilometers (10 800 meters)

This part of the challenge concludes on the 27th of May and will be followed by four days of rest. I am certain I am going to need it!

The second part of the challenge is a one day affair, the Comrades marathon. It might be fair to call the Comrades the world’s premier ultra-marathon. 18 000 Athletes will line up to tackle the 89 kilometers (89 000 meters) from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.

  • The start gun sounds at 05:30 in the morning.
  • The final gun that signals the end of the race sounds at 05:30 in the afternoon, a twelve hour window to finish the race.
  • On average there are 50 refreshment tables
  • 200 000 sachets of water
  • 660 000 sachets of Energade
  • 800 kilograms of bananas
  • 7 840 kilograms of oranges
  • 1 ton of assorted chocolates
  • 2 tons of potatoes
  • 800 000 bottles and/or cups

Thus, if everything goes according to plan, I will start the journey in Johannesburg, arrive in Pietermaritzburg in time to start the Comrades marathon and complete the journey 664 kilometers (664 000 meters) down the road in Durban.

If you’ve been wondering why every kilometer is translated to meters, there is a good answer, which you will find in my next blog which will detail the purpose of the Barefoot Comrades 2014 project.