Zola Budd Pieterse

6 days to Comrades....

This will be my 4th Comrades. I have yet to run a decent one. But there's no rush. As the body ages and gets stronger, I'll be better prepped for a Silver attempt. Who knows maybe next year?

As for this year's race, Zola (pictured below) gave us a pep talk at the Bedfordview Athletics Chairman's Breakfast on Sunday. It's amazing the emotions she was able to stir. She comes across as a really humble person. Although she is going for a time of sub-8 hours in her first ever Comrades, she isn't interested in competing, but rather experiencing the spirit of Comrades. She acknowledged that she might have to run two Comrades to stop getting flack from her brother who keeps reminding her that you're not a true runner until you've done Comrades.

Quick background stuff:- At 17 years of age, Zola ran the fastest 5,000 metres for a women ever in a time of 15m01.83s. She whittled this down to a PB of 14m48.07s. The great thing about Zola is that she ran nearly every race barefoot. When asked the reason for this, everyone laughed as she mentioned, "When I grew up in Bloemfontein, everyone ran barefoot, No-one had any shoes. You were the odd one out if you ran in shoes."

To date I think she still holds junior world records for the mile and 3,000m. Below is a picture of her winning the World Cross Country Championships which she did in 1985 and 1986.

The best part of her talk was when she spoke about why she runs, a question her non-running daughter had asked her. She runs, not for the records or the accolades, but for the solitude and serenity it provides. Running for her is a deeply spiritual experience.She always had this look of grace which possessed her as she ran. It looked as though she was the only one on the track, totally oblivious about her surroundings. Her opponents were arbitrary as opposed to the spiritual battle that was going on inside. See the clip below and make your own mind up.

Rollin' rollin' rollin - Rawhide...