I need to share with you a story from 1994. Picture it, the start of the Comrades marathon. 9 times winner Bruce Fordyce, at the start. It’s a perfect day as the runners head off through the dark Durban streets, starting their climb.
Now remember this is 1994.. when you still had a Walkman, South Africa had its first multi racial elections, Tonya Harding… skater, who took out her rival… how’s that for a strategy…
Brazil wins the world cup, If the gloves don’t fit… that white Bronco driving down the highway with what was it 10 20 police cars?
Ok, and now… back to the comrades.. just shy of 90 kilometers, from Durban to Pietermaritzburg. And at 21KM a man with a strange surname takes the lead. Well… ok… Salazar is it even worth to try and pronounce his name? He is participating the first time, and Bruce will win this one… just wait and see.
Now back in ’94, this day was the only day that in our household the TV was on. Actually, it’s the only day there was something being shown. See the Comrades is THE event, and coverage actually started as soon as it was daylight.
I remember this race so clearly, as the race went on, more details emerged about the runner leading the pack. Alberto Salazar.
Turns out he was a Boston winner… but that was some years ago.
His 5K time of 13:11, a marathon best of 2:09. Winning the NY marathon 3 times in a row. Or the dehydrated finish line dash 1982 Boston marathon. Whow… impressive but still he never had run such a far distance.
I never realized this, but in those days it was said that he wasn’t a naturally talented or gifted runner. If there even is such a thing.
One thing he had was tenacity Crossing a line dehydrated or collapsing due to heat exhausting.
He stopped running in the mid 80’s and then well… first he tried to heal up from various wounds injuries and operations he had. Ending up doing most of his training on a treadmill. Signed up and ran a spectacular comrades marathon. Winning it.
He basically came out of nowhere, rather than give up, he went for a double distance. The comrades marathon is about 90KM…. Seriously who does that? Who would even think of doing that? If you are injured as a pro, the way he was injured most would give up running. Or at least wait till the body fully recovers. I don’t remember what it was but some injury that really took a long time to
Actually, his career was “washed up”. His injuries, I guess his age too, and there where other runners that dominated the headlines.
Then he focused on the treadmill. Really brave. He ran even though injuries where not healed completely.
He overcame incredible hardships, must have endured a lot of pain. Now look I am aware of the press coverage regarding Alberto and the Oregon Project. Or some other allegations and you might say where there is smoke there is a fire.
But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to focus on the Comrades which he absolutely crushed, and his training mindset.