Words of a Comrades Winner

How I beat Leonid Shvetsov – Part 2

Collen Makaza, my team mate had the role of running out for the Hot Spots, as he was relatively unknown to many and especially Leonid. He was to run and stretch the field as much as possible, thus taking with him all the TV crews and media, cause one always runs a bit better when you are aware you are on TV. Makaza ran a fantastic part, and got to half way in 2H34 which was a new half way record. Me on the other hand, I was sticking with the Shvestov bus, and was always at the back of this group, or to the side.
I saw Cliff at Lion park, (+-20km) into the race and I told him I feel great, and he said just stick there, and don’t do anything. So I did as I was told. I don’t think anyone of the guys really took notice of me as I wasn’t running in the front of the bus or pulling it along, I think most guys there thought I was just hanging on and it was a matter of time before I dropped off. Going through Camperdown the pace was good and not many were willing to make any moves. Cato Ridge, and still we were going as bus, but had lost a few members. The hill out of Cato Ridge up to Harrison Flats was where you could see who was strong and in it for the long haul. I still kept my eye on Leonid. By this stage news got back to us about the front runners and Charles Tjiane, who is a very good runner, was out there near the leaders. But I wasn’t worried as I knew if I stuck with Leonid we will fight later down the road.
At half way Coach told me to keep the pace and not get involved in any silly surges etc. We had trained for a finishing time and we were on course for that. So all was looking good, and I started to feel more confident about the final result.
I have never felt so good after half way, it was as though I had only run 10km, so was keen to put some pace on. Leonid started to speed up and I wanted to go with him, and go past him and take the fight to him. But I stayed back, trusting the game plan. Leonid had split away and was down the road with a sizeable gap. I think he got worried about Makaza, and Tjiane, that he picked up the pace to early.
I saw coach a few kilometres later, and he could see I wanted to go, and he said “Muzhingi stay!” I thought, whats this guy thinking, I can go and catch Leonid now. But again I just kept to the plan.
Once I was allowed to pick up the pace I did so gradually, and reeled in guys in front of me with ease, and as you go past someone you kind of feel you have a bit more energy, funny that. Coach then told me to go, and it was like a weight was lifted from me, and I went , this was it, make or break time.
I could see the press trucks ahead and as I got closer I could see Leonid on the right side of the road and I was on the left. I could see that I was moving a lot more freely than he was. I knew that I was going to catch him quickly, and I knew that as I was going so fast that he would not be able to respond right away, so I had to go past him at full pace and put a huge gap between us. I went passed him on his left side and I felt him glance at me, but I was so focused that I didn’t even think anything of it. I knew then that the race was mine.

As I went through toll gate, coming into Durban, I did feel a little anxious, as I know what a strong finisher Leonid is, and I was expecting him to come back at some stage, but I would deal with that if it came up. It was odd, I remember thinking, I am leading the Comrades with only 8km to go, could this be real! As I got to the long flat road leading passed Workshop, the crowds were very load, and I was thinking that if Leonid was coming up behind me, I wouldn’t hear him or hear the motorbikes over the noise. So I turned around a couple of times to check, but No Leonid.
I put on all the pace I had left in me, and as I entered the Stadium I got the batton with the mayors message and a rose. As I came onto the Grass of the stadium, I almost turned left instead of right. I turned the last corner and could see the finish tape, and the photographers and officials behind it. This is the first time I could hear the Stadium Crowd cheering. For the next 45 minutes I forgot about how sore my legs were, the adrenalin rush was out of this world. I wanted to cry out of pure joy, satisfaction, and feeling so proud. I had one it. A dream come true!
One cannot describe the feeling you have but what I can say, its like winning the lotto but ten times better!
I must pay tribute to Leonid Shvetsov as he is a remarkable athlete, and I hope to see him one day to tell him that. I never really got the chance after the race. A huge thank you to my sponsors for their support, and to my coach for having the faith and patience to get me to achieve winning the greatest foot race in the World!


March 17, 2011 - Posted by | Comrades, Comrades Marthon, Exercise, Fitness, Marathon Running, Running, Stephen Muzhingi, Two Oceans Marathon, Uncategorized | , , , , ,

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