Comrades is not simply about the physical fitness.

“A comrade-in-arms is someone who has worked for the same cause or purpose as you and has shared the same difficulties and dangers.”

I would suggest we ALL need to keep this uppermost in our minds on Sunday 10 June as we seek to become or renew our Comrades Membership —

The day is NOT about the individual.. it is all commenced about the Group ..

The Battalion, the Regiment the “army” …. putting others before yourself!

Time we took that step back …. and worked for the Whole, not the Individual … lets consider this as we prepare for the Battle of Comrades 2018….

When Vic Clapham came back from the Great War his intention was to create a challenge that would allow everyone who competed in the Comrades Challenge to empathise with the camaraderie and compassion of that combat.

The Great War was said to be the war to end all wars….
It saw atrocity, the culling of humanity, the loss of limb, blood and life, on all sides, but it also forged the bond, created the compassion and connection between those who survived that Clapham wanted people to experience and commemorate, by pitting them against a formidable challenge that would not simply provide them with a personal challenge, but one that would require them to bond and rely on the support, interaction, and camaraderie of fellow challengers. He wanted them to experience the power of the group!

Although Clapham’s motivation and inspiration came from World War 1, the traits of the humanity he wanted to celebrate are those seen in every conflict and struggle, and are as relevant 22 years later in World War 2, or 42 and 58 years later with Sharpeville and Soweto…

(a photo of the Soweto Uprising has been removed here as it was notified that this copyright belonged to a specific photographer – although available and used widely on the internet.  It is an unfortunate situation as the photo assisted in making a point and no gain was made from this posting. 

The point being made that Comrades can commemorate all struggles not simply does not war, but the struggles of a society – such as those experienced in South Africa with apartheid)  

All are about the “struggle”… of war, battle and adversity.

Although the devastation of these situations can surely never be fully replicated by peaceful means, Completing The Comrades Marathon each year pits over 16000 men and women against a common adversity of distance:

It is the pain, suffering and challenge that pulls them together – the sharing of the challenge brings a camaraderie that extends around the world. Its a common characteristic of humanity that needs celebrating.

As the runners gather in the pre-battle phase, each person is affected by the positive or negative vibe and speech of those around.

If everyone spoke only of pain, suffering and failure a high percentage of the field would fail to go the distance.

Positive talk is the way to assist your fellow runners.

Talk of the support, talk of the honour, talk of the achievement … talk of success … talk of the (easy) things they can do to control their runs … These are the things and discussions that will arm the runners with a feeling of confidence, and control that will assist them to Conquer the Challenge

The other key area that EVERY runner needs to do is to Consider other Runners …..

Comrades has never been about the INDIVIDUAL …. Its about the COLLECTIVE .. ITS ABOUT YOUR COMRADES (in arms) …… Thats why Buses are GOOD — They help others achieve together….

Thats also why BUSES ARE BAD .……. they have grown to where they have LOST their CONSIDERATION, COMPASSION AND CORRECTNESS by blocking the route for others – other Comrades and preventing them from passing and having their own runs…..

There are too many bus drivers who are getting involved in the false ‘fame of leading’

Too many are starting TOO FAST – Losing and burning off runners with their own fear of not achieving the stated goal – and then slowing dramatically from Tollgate to the finish to ‘appear to have hit the ideal time as they come into the stadium’
That is NOT HELPFUL but destructive..

Driving a bus should not be about the driver … the driver should be the catalyst to other runners success, not the focus — the focus should be on the passengers and their safe travel

A drivers fame as a leader should comes from his of her sacrifice and selflessness in giving up their own race to bring the most meek and unable runner safely to the finish… There should be no celebration of a driver whose erratic pacing destroys many who have pinned their hopes on an even effort pacing from start to finish…..

Erratic drivers, whether on the road or in Comrades, are a danger and should have their license revoked!!

Then there is the blocking of the road by buses — Come on Comrades –

lets have Consideration – Lets have Courtesy – lets commence a Etiquette

All buses should keep 1 metre (one clear metre) on the right hand side at all times…..

No matter where on the route BUT particularly from Lions Park / Highest point to Fields hill – that one metre gap should remain open and available to ANY OTHER COMRADE who wants to pass and run his or her own pace… No one has the right to hold up others….

We can turn this into a very positive situation where we celebrate and encourage each other ….

Runners wishing to pass could say a catchy phrase such as “COMRADES COMING THROUGH’
Imagine having a positive response that would lift EVERYONE, and would see the bus runners moving slightly to their left to ensure the 1 metre. Imagine the boost of a full busload responding “GO WELL COMRADE!!’


Buses are supposed to be there to assist our colleagues not restrict them……


KEY WORDS FOR SUNDAY 10 JUNE ….. “Comrade Coming Through!!” ….. move left — “Go Well Comrade!!”

Lets all Celebrate being Comrades — lets do the CORRECT thing

Have a Great Race ….. Assist others as they assist you

One Response

  1. Norrie, Thanks for your thoughtful comments about runners and running etiquette. Comrades is a fantastic event but I’m glad that someone of your standing in the community has made these remarks about buses.

    The drivers bring as much to the table as any other runner but sometimes their strategies are very erratic.

    I remember running into Drummond with a bus at my shoulder and naively thinking that I must be going a bit slow and my goal time was slipping away. It turned out that this bus was almost 30 minutes ahead of its scheduled half way splits. As we left Drummond I was thrilled to be on track but it was hard not to think of all the runners who had trained for months only to be left behind by a bus that was going so quickly.

    Another time I ran into my first bus of the day with 3ks to go. It was so far ahead of the clock that the driver was dawdling along and stopping for as many photo opportunities as possible to soak up time. Again, a lot of people would have been lost along the way – fallen comrades I suppose. Can’t imagine that’s the approach Vic Clapham had in mind.

    If the emphasis was on how consistently and closely buses reach all cut-off points based on their time, then more runners needing support could be helped and those looking to run a bit faster could ease on ahead.

    I really like your idea of busses being required to leave a passing lane on the right. Could I suggest that those caterpillars and multi-runner set-ups, which do such great work for charities, also be asked to run on the left hand-side of the road. That way, the strategy for passing them would be clearer and less dangerous for those of us towards the middle and back of the pack.

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