10 hours and 54 minutes a special time that I will never forget… 12 March 2016, was the day I decided I will be running the Comrades marathon on the 29th of May. Little did I know that making that bold decision will change my life, FOREVER. I had little time to prepare, everyone was telling me how crazy I am. People have the whole year to prepare and I had a few months! “Who do you think you are” they said. You see, setting a goal that you know is beyond you is the only way to propel you to even exceed those unimaginable heights. I knew from that day on I had a challenging task of preparing for the ULTIMATE RACE in such a short space of time.

For the next 2 months training peaked and so did the injuries at some point a month before the race I was training with a bandage… a bandage that covered my stitches. Even that didn’t stop me from wanting to get that coveted medal every runner wishes to have. The beauty about running is that it’s a team sport…

How? You may ask yourself.

Through running you meet people that are will sacrifice their own goals in making sure that you achieve yours. Through running, total strangers become your pillars when the going gets tough and lastly, through running people sacrifice their time in making sure that you are well equipped for the big day of the race. That is exactly what Coach Peteni (Coach P) did for me in preparation for Comrades marathon.

Fast track, first week of May 2016. 3 weeks before the race… At this point you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. The anxiety and nightmares of not finishing the race because of a silly mistake like waking up late, getting lost are the order of those 3 weeks. Whenever I had thoughts of doubts, Coach would always remind mind me of how ready I am, how I’ve prepared for the race and the importance of finishing the race. He provided guidance on different aspects such as nutrition, tapering and most importantly the motivation I so desperately needed during that time.

Fast track 29 May 02:00 AM Pietermaritzburg. Race day was finally here, I had prepared myself physically and mentally. Just before running Coach sent a message of motivation to all fellow first time Comrades runners; that’s all I needed to hear before embarking on the huge task ahead of me.

Through the pain, the hurt, dehydration and tears I FOUGHT ON.

One thing that kept ringing in my head was what Coach use to say. Whatever you do on race day, DON’T STOP! KEEP MOVING! I indeed kept moving, I kept pushing. As I was few meters away from the finish line I started reflecting on my Comrades journey and how it was not only in my doing that I was now in the stadium few meters away from the finish line. I thought about my preparation and the different people who supported me and how Coach P always believed in me.

Zanele Hlatshwayo.

2016 Comrades Marathon Finish

Comrades confirmed that I was stronger than I thought, I could face anything and FAILURE will never ever be part of me. I looked up with tears in my eyes as I crossed the finish line, it was OVER and I completed the race in 10 hours 54 minutes. I wouldn’t have done it without Coach and because of him I became a different human being. Allow me to introduce to you the new me: ladies and gentlemen my name is Zanele and I’m an ULTRA HUMAN BEING