Running Comrades as part of S4J – an athlete’s perspective

As an athlete and Comrades runner, I have had the privilege to be part of the S4J since 2011. Many things have been said already about the purpose of the S4J, why we do what we do, etc. I just want to share my experience purely from an athlete’s perspective.

Imagine you are running in a desert. The sun is beating down, you are sweating and dehydrated. All your water is finished. Your motivation is at an all-time low. Then, on the horizon, you see the shimmering of an oasis. Cool water, shade…you get the picture. You know that, if you can only make it to the oasis, you will be able to replenish your water, quench your thirst, and be able to carry on your journey.

The support points the S4J has along the Comrades route, are like oases in an arid desert. Anybody who has ever run Comrades, knows that support along the route, whether from loved ones or your running club, is what pulls you through the race. Not everybody is lucky enough to have a loved one or a club gazebo along the race, but if you are part of the S4J family, you can be assured that they will be at two crucial places during the race. It gives you an oasis to look forward to. Their “outrageous orange” (as someone called it this year!) flags and signage is also quite easy to spot next to the road!

Above: some of the S4J team(athletes and supporters) this year. Note the “Outrageoaus Orange” 😉

I will never forget my first Comrades in 2011. It was an up run, and much, much harder than I expected. Norman and the S4J team were stationed at Lion Park, at around 65/70 km. I was in tears. Everything hurt; I was tired, emotional and felt very alone. I got to the support point, got my pre-packed bag with my “stuff”, and if I remember correctly, didn’t even take something from it. I was too tired. In tears, I asked Norman to pray for me. I knew I could not carry on in my own strength. Norman immediately started walking with me and praying for me. Just around the next bend in the road, I saw my husband and best friend Reinette, who were supporting that day, as well as my father-in-law Sarel, who also ran. They were waiting for me at a place I never expected them to be, just moments after Norman prayed for me. The Lord knew exactly who I needed then. My father-in-law, a veteran of 17 Comrades, had a problem with his back, and waited for me so we could finish the last 25/30 km together. Had it not been for him, I might not have finished.

Above: Running with my father-in-law just after Norman prayed for me. Note my face..close to tears

Another thing about arriving at the S4J support point, is that they make you feel as if you are a rock star or a VIP. All your needs and perceived needs are taken care of. “Look, here comes Annelize!” Norman with his camera is usually the one who spots you first. The wonderful team at the gazebo will then ply you with cold water, marmite sandwiches, look for your prepacked bag, help you with your shoes, etc. etc. You leave the support point refreshed and ready to take on the next section.

Above: Marmite sandwiches at the S4J gazebo Comrades 2016.

I can think of many other examples of how S4J supports their athletes, and I can imagine that every athlete who has been part of the S4J the last 9 years, will have equally wonderful stories to tell. What a wonderful privilege to be part of God’s family, and to experience God’s love, grace and favour through something as “mundane” as support among the route of an ultra race.

Annelize Hietbrink

Comrades entries now Closed!

You will not believe it but the Comrades entries are Closed. We notice on the Comrades web that the sale of the entries this year was unprecedented.

In the history of the Comrades Marathon, entries have never been snapped up as quickly as they are going for next year’s Up Run.”

  Read more here

So S4J team, we do hope you have secured your number.

Comrades and the whole experience has been so good to the S4J brand in the years gone by. We have been able to do so much good for the people of Sudan:

  • We have been able to fund the drilling of a borehole in Nimule, Southern South Sudan
  • We have sent 100 000 Sudanese dialect Bibles to the refugee camp in Kakuma in July of last year
  • We were able to assist our Children’s Fund partners with funds for their upliftment work in the Nuba Mountains
  • And this year we will be able to assist the Beja People of North Eastern Sudan with Social Upliftment Programs.

This season is going to be super exciting as we are planning three recruitment drives at races and we are extending our presence into the corporate world as well.

We wish all our friends at S4J a safe and injury-free training program up to Comrades. We promise you…we will see you on the road.

Warm Regards – Eddie

The Story of Ester: Saved from a Nightmare

I met a girl called Esther in Uganda while visiting there on my mission’s trip. Her story was heartbreaking. Click here to hear it.

There are so many children and young adults in Africa that need help that sometimes the task feels overwhelming. But every soul we help, every child we nurture, we bring the Kingdom of God closer to our worlds we live in.

Nimule, South Sudan – Living Water

After staying over at Juba overnight, I was off to Nimule which is approx 200km away from Juba. Due to Rebel forces activity on the road it was not safe to travel by road.

The Catholic Church I slept over in at Nimule

I was then taken to the village where we had funded the drilling of a waterhole. It was such an emotional experience I could not really understand why I was feeling this way about it. For those of you who know me well, this was not me. And yet the Holy Spirit moved me there in that village.

The chief spoke and thanked us for the water and then his wife said this:

The Chief's wife telling her story

“We used to carry water from the town to our village on our heads in buckets. Because of this labour our hair at the top our heads stopped growing. Now that we have this borehole we do not have to carry on our heads anymore so the hair will grow back. Thank you for allowing us to be beautiful again.” Enough said!

I had wonderful times with the staff of IAS in Nimule and hope to return soon to the place.

I was on my way back to Juba for an overnight stay and then back to Entebbe. This was indeed a trip worth the wait.

Juba, South Sudan – Meeting new Friends

The IAS Team at Nimule

I arrived in Juba with so excited to be able to at last see the Water we have been so hard at work fundraising for. It was hot and muggy. The airport facilities were rudimentary to be kind. We got through and on our way to the IAS compound on the outskirts of Juba

Resting after a bumpy flight from Nimule

 

The men and women do such a great job out here against huge odds that you can just admire them. The bureaucracy in Juba is astounding. In order to want to assist people with water boreholes you have to jump through a myriad of loops. It is ridiculous.

The hill just outside our compound

On the last day of my stay in Juba I got hold of a Boda-boda, which in our language is a scooter and did some sight-seeing. It was an experience. There is so much hopelessness mingled with hope that the landscape becomes confusing at times.

Ate a great deal of these little monsters

Next stop, Nimule! Next week.