Alistair Doyle - Comrades

Comrades Take 2 ... the "Up" Run

They say lightning doesn't strike twice, but it looks like insanity rules in the GO camp, as 2005 Comrades victims Jeremy Wilde and Alastair Doyle from Guildford Orienteers return to Durban for a second bite of the cherry in June. After completing the "Down" run last June both Jeremy and Alastair said never again, but demands from the nearest and dearest saying "can we have that in writing" were quicky rebuffed, as once a nutter always a nutter, and a rematch was always going to be on the cards!!
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Won't the "Up" run be harder than the "Down"? Alastair said... The "Up" run is meant to be slightly easier on the legs according to Comrades regulars, as the 6000 ft of descent on roads really does take its toll on the "Down" run, particularly as about half of that comes in the last 20 km when the legs are pretty well beaten up anyway. I never thought I would see the day when it was too painful to run down a hill, but last year the last big descent of Fields Hill was just a killer, and I almost looked forward to a spot of uphill for light relief!!

Where does the route go this year? This years run starts at 5:30 am in Durban and finishes 89 km away in Pietermaritzburg. There is a 12 hour cut off and in some ways this is the most brutal part. If you get to the line in 12 hours and 1 second you miss out!! The final 10 second countdown in the finish stadium is such an emotional experience and really has to be seen to be believed. If for no other reason, do The Comrades once in your life to see that ... just make sure you are on the right side of 12 hours!!

To put the route in perspective, it is more than twice as long as the Around Aldershot Long O staged in January, with 4000 ft of climb and 6000 ft of descent thrown in for good measure!! Take the leg sapping 8 km canal run, multiply it by 10 and add a couple of ascents of Snowdon and a quick plunge down Ben Nevis and you are about in the right ball park.

As Jeremy said... the only reason I’m doing it is because the "Up" run is easier than the "Down", and last year was really awful. I got my money’s worth of roadside physio last year, so I’m not sure how I’ll make up for that if I don’t need them this year – maybe I’ll eat more from the feed stations instead! Just so long as I don’t arrive so close to the 12 hour finish gun (just 12 minutes last year) I’ll be happy.

So has the training gone to plan? Jeremy tells us... I have put in less miles and fewer long runs this year, though I’m going for broke in May to make up for my lack of application in the last 4 months. Alastair on the other hand seems to have been doing a Forrest Gump, so he’ll find the whole thing a breeze. Like any long distance event it is as much a mind game as a physical challenge, and a few 6-ish hour runs this month are putting us in the right frame of mind. Having run it (well most of it) last year, we at least know what to expect and can visualize the size of some of the hills now. That doesn't mean they won't still be big and difficult!!

Why on earth do you do runs like this? Alastair said... I have no rational idea really. I have always run long distance events, and even though they are often painful and uncomfortable experiences, you just seem to get dragged back to do it all again. I guess there is the challenge of doing better than the last time and meeting like minded people who are also drawn to this type of event. There are a couple of Comrades runners who have done it 40 times now and hundreds who have notched up 10 runs and earnt the prized green number. I guess compared to those runners we are absolute novices!!

Are you trying to raise sponsor money again this year? Yes, but we are not pushing it as hard. If anybody does feel inclined to sponsor us you can check out the charities we are running for on our web page.

It seems a shame to take on a challenge like this and not try and raise a few pounds for folk more needy than us. So if you feel you can spare a pound or two (a couple of car park fees or E-card hire charges) you can donate online by following the links to the Justgiving pages. If lots of folk sponsor just £1 it will soon mount up, so thanks for your support.

So what’s the next challenge after The Comrades? Jeremy said... I think there is a District Event on Chobham Common in October. I reckon the Orange may be hard enough for me as I haven’t kept up any orienteering skills I might once have had – too much long-distance plodding!

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