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The thrill of the chase

There is this ultramarathon in South Africa called The Comrades. It’s known as "The ultimate human race" and it's the world’s largest and oldest ultramarathon race. If you grew up in South Africa, you probably grew up sitting in front of the TV, watching SABC on the 16th of June (for the better part of the day) every year.

Nowadays, the date of the race is more variable, but the camaraderie and sheer grit of those participating (and supporting) remains a thing of beauty.

I have friends who have completed the race 10+ times. Naturally, as a runner and a South African, I’ve contemplated doing it too.

One night, at a braai (BBQ), I started grilling one of these friends about his why. I wanted to know what kept people going at the 60~70km mark, what kept him going? I phrased the question several different ways, but his answer remained unchanged. Apparently, he had a really great running community.

I wasn’t satisfied. I was on the hunt for a revelation, an insight of some kind. Perhaps, selfishly, something I could use to motivate myself.

I reflected on this conversation for weeks after. Finally, the penny dropped.

It was never about The Comrades, it was about the road to The Comrades. It was about the training runs, the social gatherings post-training and the friends made along the way.

It was, as it should be, about the thrill of the chase.