Deloitte’s has come and gone, but I cannot shrug off the feeling of what could have been.
The day started off with glorious weather and a full and vibrant team at our water point at Pretoria Boys High. We were given enough ice,water and coldrink sachets to start the day off.
A second load of ice came at around 9am for which we were most grateful. But it soon became apparent that the water was not going to last the race. There was also no water to be had from other points. As we feared the water ran out at around 10:30am. We then resorted to other means of getting water to the athletes.
These were not water sachets but the next best thing.I did start wondering though if the Deloitte’s Marathon was taking a huge step backward regarding organization of the even. You almost got the feeling that it was more of a hassle than the opportunity to present a premium event.
Horror stories of other mishaps at water points come trickling through via the athletes: no water, only four helpers at a table, no ice, and so on.
So to Deloitte’s: Not a great show guys!
To the athletes: It was a privilege to be of service to you!
Our partner in the Children’s Project, Daniel Barbanti, took his team to visit a refugee camp in the north of Uganda in November. There are approx 50 000 South Sudanese refugees in this camp. Unfortunately they could not enter the camp itself but ministered at the field hospital on the outside. This is their story:
On Thursday, after approximately 6 hours of travel, we arrived in the vicinity of a UN-backed refugee camp. Our desire was to visit the camp, especially for the children. Due to the vulnerability of the refugees, security is extremely tight. Many refugees bear marks of violence, loss, pain, terror, fear … However, we know God raises valuable people on earth to be the voice of those who can no longer speak, be the dignity and justice of those forgotten by their own homeland. The sun was scorching, we were sitting inside the car waiting for our leader to resolve the documentations to schedule a visit. We decided to start praying for this nation with a history of so much loss and sorrow.
We all prayed individually in agreement, and suddenly my turn came … I could not synthesize in a few words the petition necessary for these people, but I asked for something special: “God connect us to a single person of this nation. As I prayed, I heard a sweet, sad voice singing. At first I thought I was over listening, but when we finished we saw a small boy at the window singing. He carried in his body the mark of his tribe and in his heart the mark of hunger and war. Anywhere in the world a child singing can be a happy moment, but this song broke our heart. His sweet voice expressed that the UN was welcome, that in the walk to the camp his parents had died in the war and some brothers got lost. He said that school was good for those who could study … So small, he composes his own songs, all bathed in loss and pain. Fear is expressed in his attitudes, he did not allow us to approach, he was afraid to receive our food, but left in us an image to remember in our prayers. She left vivid image of war and the sadness that it leaves behind.
Let us pray for the refugees. Let us pray that the kingdom of the Lord may be revealed on earth. Pray for peace in the Sudan’s.
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!
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.
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.
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.