This is the personal Narrative of Hannes van Wyk. His personal experiences and how it was in his time when doing sport. Hannes van Wyk did road running as a sport in his younger days and focused on long distance marathons. His participation in the sport all started with a dare. His brother in law dared him to do the comrades marathon. So he started practising and doing short runs and gradually increased until he was fit enough to do the comrades. He was allowed to represent his country or province but never got to that level, but if he had the ability he would have been able to represent his province or country.
He did however represent a club as it was compulsory to join a marathon club, he was a member of the Magnolia marathon club. One interesting incident he can remember is when he had the idea to do the comrades, the idea was to do two comrades, one up and one down. He did the first one in 1988 which was the up one and planned to do the down one in 1989, but in 1989 it was Pietermaritzburg’s 100-year anniversary and for that reason they changed the comrades to an up again so that the comrades finished in Pietermaritzburg so he had to do the up twice and only the down the year after.
His highest achievement in the sport he claims to be is doing the comrades three times.His coach was his brother in law who challenged him to do the comrades. His brother in law Peter Phillips was an experienced runner and would coach him, trained with him and give him tips so he acted as his coach until Hannes could do it on his own. Hannes’ training started with doing 2 to 3 kilometres a day and eventually when he got into the routine and did some marathons he trained 4 days a week, doing 10 kilometres in the mourning. Fridays was his rest day and on Saturday he did whatever marathon was on the charts, whether it was a half marathon or a full marathon and rested again on Sunday to start on Monday with the weeks training. The comrades were always on a long weekend so they would travel by car to Durban and stay with family there and then after the comrades they would travel back again.
It was his own responsibility to pay for equipment, transport and entrance fees so he paid for everything himself. He stopped running marathons as he would use to train and run with a couple of people so they were always a group doing marathons together. Especially with one of his friends they with run and train together. Everyone moved away and the friend also immigrated to Australia, so he had to do it on his own and it became less fun and he also achieved what he planned which was to do the comrades three times so he gradually stopped running. He did some other sports and the running was a challenge for him, so it was completely his own choice in deciding what sport he wanted to do.
Hannes said that he would definitely run marathons again if he was young again as it was very relaxing to run and if he could do it all over again he would start at a younger age, like maybe doing long distances at school as he never ran before he started training for the comrades.
Hannes ran the comrades before apartheid was abolished in 1994 and during that time there wasn’t many black runners, simply because they couldn’t afford to participate in the comrades and there was a ban on black participation before 1975. (CJPME foundation, n.d.) The ban on black participation was lifted in 1975 and the first black runner to win the comrades was Sam Tshabalala in 1989. Since then there has been more than 18 black runners won the comrades marathon. (SA History, n.d.) The marathons were controlled by the road running association and each province had its own association. There wasn’t any rival organisations that Hannes was aware of.
Hannes remembers his favourite marathon which is the Two Oceans marathon. Mainly because of the scenery while running from Vishoek over Chapmans peak to Houtbay. Breathtaking views of the sea and where the two oceans meet made him forget he was running. There was a few changes in the Comrades Marathons time limit over the years. When Hannes had to qualify for the marathon he had to do a standard marathon within 4 hours in order to qualify for the marathon where nowadays you have to complete a standard marathon within 5 hours.
When he ran the Comrades he had to run the marathon under 11 hours to qualify for a medal, where nowadays you have to run the Comrades within 12 hours. On Coach Parry.com they state that in order to qualify for the Comrades, the standard marathon you choose to compete in has to be ASA technically appliant and have to meet the Comrades marathon qualifying criteria. (CoachParry.com, n.d.)