After a two-year-long coronavirus-forced hiatus, the 95th Comrades Marathon will finally take place on Sunday, 28 August. Among those hopeful to make it across the finish line of the 12-hour race, is Primrose Makombe, a waitress who has been training for nine months by including a run from her home in Strand to work in Somerset West, Western Cape.
Ultramarathon runners from across the globe will make their mark on history in the 89km race from Durban to Pietermaritzburg. Instead of taking her usual taxi to work from Somerset West to Strand, Makombe (36) has been running six kilometres each day to prep for the biggest race of her running journey.
Makombe says that her training has not only helped to cut down the cost of taxi fare, but has also helped her spend more time with her children.
“It’s a regular thing; I have been preparing for this for the past nine months. It [running] has always been something I do to save time; instead of taking a taxi home I run so I have time with the kids for homework and catching up,” she says.
The Zimbabwean-born runner and fitness enthusiast says that fitness has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember. “I run and lift weights occasionally and I do take hikes too. I love being active. I used to play netball a long time ago and it has always been my passion.”
Living beyond limits
Makombe only started running five years ago when she wanted to take charge of her health. A mother of three, she never imagined that her mission to get fit after having kids would land her on the list of competitive ultramarathon runners for the famous race.
“I never in a million years thought at that moment that one day I will run Comrades. What made me start was that I was extremely out of shape and going up the stairs or playing with the kids was a great task for me,” she says.
No one ever said that running a marathon would be easy but there are some serious differences that separate the marathon from the ultramarathon.
An ultramarathon is a run that covers long distance beyond that of a standard marathon. To be considered an ultramarathon runner you need to run a distance of at least 42km.
Makombe is part of the Lwandle Athletic Club running group and ran her first 42km race this year.
“Finishing the race gave me a sense of accomplishment, and that is satisfying” she says. “This is my first comrades, and I am looking forward to the new experience I am about to embark on. I am my own competition.”
Silencing the doubt
Running should bring pleasure and is an escape and a time to play, believes Makombe. She finds her motivation in reflecting on how far she has come as a runner. “Pain and doubts hit and when they do I look around and ask myself why I started in the first place. I hope that with me doing what I do I get to inspire at least one person and change their life in some way.”
She says that motivating yourself to get out of bed and train should be a personal choice.
Training should never be considered torture. “Advice I would give to road runners is that every run won’t be the same from the last, when you go on the road it’s a coordination of mind, body, and soul.
“Run your own race, not comparing yourself to the next person. Be your own competition and strive to be better than you were yesterday. Above all enjoy the journey you have chosen for yourself.”
She has hopes to open her own gym one day. “I am a waitress and Iove doing what I do, because with that it’s not just limited to serving food and drink. You make lifelong friends that with time becomes family,” she says.
“Most of my support comes from the people that I have met taking a drink or food order from. One day I dream of owning a fitness centre where I can be able to impact and help more people reach their fitness goals.”