muzhingi5h23

Words of a Comrades Winner

Comrades 2011

Comrades 2011
On Friday before the race I was contacted by a representative from Bakers Inn in Zimbabwe and they advised that they would make arrangements for my Wife and Baby to come to Comrades race day and be there for me at the finish. Initially they weren’t going to come but I then felt I would like some family there for me. So this helped me get very focused and determined as I didn’t want to let them down. So the arrangements were made and they paid for everything, which I am eternally grateful for. Thanks Guys
Race Day!!!!
I woke up early on Sunday morning, not that I slept much anyway, around 2H30. Did the normal routine for race day and then it was off to the City Hall in Durban. Once I arrived there I ran a few laps of the hall and got the muscles warmed up. The nerves started to kick in. Having my Coach and Manager there really was a huge help as their support and belief in me kept me from thinking too much.
05H30 was standing in the front of the field. The SA National Anthem was sung, the traditional cock crow, and then the gun. We were off. The pace for the first 2km was really fast and I think we went at about sub 3 min per km, before we settled down into a decent stride and rhythm.
We were running in a big bus with about 25 to 30 guys, and you could feel how each one was eyeing out the others, sizing up who was going to be there at this pace for the long haul. Most of the top ten would come from this bus. But you always knew that the Bus just behind was also a threat as some of the top guys started at a slower pace and would make a surge from 70km. But that didn’t really concern me as I had a good team of seconds on the road who would advise me of any surges coming later on. My main concern was that I ran at my planned pace and had to not get sucked in to the early surges from the guys trying to burn me out early. But being the current Champion I did take a lot of confidence that the guys around me were probably more concerned what I would be doing, so I kind of blocked everything out.
I was very focused, so want to apologise to any friends out there that cheered me on during the race, that I wasn’t ignoring you I was very focused and concentrating on my task at hand, but I do hear when you call out words of encouragement.
I did struggle to get a rhythm going, as I was feeling a little uncomfortable, but worked really hard to get the breathing, arms and legs going all at the same time, this came right at about Pinetown, where I saw my seconding team for the first time. Wow the crowds through Pinetown were awesome as well as going out of Durban. Although you are concentrating, you do notice the crowds, trust me.
Fields Hill – This was the first real climb of the day, and we would soon see who was there with their “A” game. As we started the climb a surge came on, and I stuck to my pace, it was early in the race. It was a hard climb, but nevertheless it was early in the race. A few guys fell off the back, and this is when I noticed Fanie, he looked very determined and strong.
Going through Hillcrest my stomach felt bad, and I did vomit, but after that I was 110%, and felt comfortable. The pace was really fast, and I looked at my watch and could see that we were about 4 minutes faster than scheduled. But I had prepared for a fast race and stuck to it. As we started to climb out of hillcrest I knew then that Fanie was the one who would be with me for the long haul.
I think at this time we both knew (Fanie and myself) that it would be between he and I at the end. We flew up to half way and most of the guys fell back or off the pace. I kept the pace and ended up going through half way 7 minutes faster than planned.

Half Way to Finish:
I knew this would be one of those races if I took my foot off the pedal and let Fanie get away and rested a bit, that it would be very hard to catch him again. I was very keen to break the record, but going at this pace it would be hard to do this. Securing the win was more important. We got to the top of Inchanga and made the right turn towards Harrison Flats. I remember thinking to myself that this man is strong and I am going to have a real “street fight” now. The plan was to run Half way in 2H48, and then from top of Inchanga would turn it on and go home in 2H44.
Coach told me to hold the pace and recover down into Cato Ridge. I was told the 3rd place guy was Claude Moshiywa and he was 6 minutes behind. So no real threat at the pace I was running to have a threat from behind.
Cato Ridge came and went and we were on our way to Camperdown. I was well rested now and ready for the climb out of Camperdown. The third Hot Spot mat was looming and you could see it. Fanie increased the pace and I went with, and we ended up sprinting for this and he crossed the mat by about half a second before me. Ok so that crazy part over, and the pace decreased but only slightly. Fanie has a good coach, in John Hamlett, and he is a very clever and a good tactician, and this Fanie was sticking to. Went through Camperdown and the crowds were huge and the noise was unbelievable. I thought I would go hard at the Climb out of Camperdown to see what Fanie had left in him. He stuck to me up this, to my surprise. We made our way to Umlaas Road, and past the Highest Point on the route.
So only climbs left were little Polly’s and then the BIG ONE, Polly Shortts! But I had about 10km of down and flat section to recover and get some supplements in. Going past the Chicken Farm, Fanie put on a huge surge. We were probably going at about 3 minutes a km. I thought I would let him do the running here and just check his every move, as this would play on his mind, and may break him mentally. Past Lion Park and down the hill, I could feel the pressure, and sensed Fanie getting a little uncomfortable. At this time I knew I would get away up either of the climbs but Fanie has guts and determination, so I knew he would come back. So I would have to keep going at this crazy pace.
I maintained the pace that Fanie set and to my surprise he started falling behind. I knew I had to keep going, and that this was my chance to get away. He could be falling behind on purpose to get some strength for the climbs ahead. I decided to carry on, so if something bad happened I would have some breathing room to recover. Little Polly’s was hard and my legs were feeling heavy. But as you get to the top at Ashburton the crowds were so noisy that although you want to walk you know you can’t as these people have come out to cheer you on, and you don’t want to disappoint.
I recovered down the other side and then the 1.8km Polly Shortts monster was upon me. I remember thinking that I would kill myself up this hill but I won’t walk. This is make or break time, and where Champions are made! I worked harder than have ever worked, and got to the top on my own. I had opened a sizeable gap now, and checked the time and it was here that I knew that the record was out of reach. Went past Market Road where I took on some ice cold water which woke me up.
One forgets about the slope from bottom of Market Road, and this felt like running up a mine shaft, but the end was close and I just had to put out any negative thoughts and pain I had. I knew my family was at the finish for me, and my country was supporting me so I just kept my head and dug deep to keep going.
I knew Fanie was coming back and was putting in a surge. I entered the last mile and down into the Stadium. Wow, what a feeling, I was tingling and felt pretty emotional with all of this. I thought please don’t trip when you get onto the grass! I then have my biggest fear play through my mind, and that is being passed whilst in the Stadium, so I moved my legs as fast as they would go, and as I turned the last corner I saw the finish tape and all the officials and cameras behind it.
The noise was just awesome and I forgot just how sore my legs were for this brief time. It was over! Crossed the line and one cannot explain how you feel. Relieved, happy, ecstatic, and if I am being honest you don’t want to cry out of pure joy.
My wife came up to me with my baby, and this was just the icing on the cake. I hadn’t seen them for 4 months. But I was finished in every way, so I had to sit down with my baby for a few seconds.
Fanie finished and I must say that I have huge respect for him, as he ran a great race and pushed me to limits that I didn’t know I could achieve. So I learnt a lot from this race.

I would like to thank all my supporters, coach, and Manager for everything thye have done and continue to do for me.

Most of all thank you to my beautiful wife and baby who I adore.

Cheers

Stephen

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June 2, 2011 - Posted by | Athletics, Comrades, Comrades Marthon, Exercise, Fitness, Marathon Running, Running, Stephen Muzhingi, Two Oceans Marathon, Uncategorized | , , , , , ,

5 Comments »

  1. Fantastic insight into what it is like running up front! Thank you for this and well done. This blog has inspired me to run that little bit harder.

    Comment by thadocta | June 2, 2011 | Reply

  2. Stephen, i still sit and marvel at your success on sundy..and to read your blog i feel like i was there s well..you are great athlete and i got so much respect for you.I hope the good lord will bless you with many more years of even better performance. It was emotionl to see your family at the finishing line and yes you are the great..well done

    Comment by nyasha mharakurwa | June 2, 2011 | Reply

  3. Well done! I recorded the live TV broadcast of the win while we were running and I was very disappointed when they had a technical problem in your last mile! We got to see only the last few seconds before you broke the finish tape. Also had bit of a mixed feeling when the prize giving were broadcast exactly when I finished…
    It is nice to see someone win more than twice in Comrades again! Hope to see you next year, running through the finish tape again!

    Comment by Francois Nel | June 3, 2011 | Reply

  4. I was ecstatic to be there before and during the race and waiting at the finish to see our Champ come in~!!! It was THE most incredible feeling – congratulations!! So v.v.v.proud of you Stephen… Roll on 2012~!! (Do I sniff a down run record on the cards?) 🙂

    Comment by Donnette E Davis | June 10, 2011 | Reply

    • Thank you Donnette. There is always so many people when I cross the line, but I apart from my wife and baby who I saw before I crossed the line, I did pick you out amongst all the hectic cameras and people there, you took the photo!!!! Thank you for everything, me and my family appreciate all you asnd Craig have done and continue to do for us. You guys are part of the Muzhingi Family now. Bye Stephen

      Comment by muzhingi5h23 | June 15, 2011 | Reply


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