Friday, 8 November 2013

Humble Hero

Watching the Comrades Marathon coverage on TV (if you're not lucky enough to be there in person) is a South African tradition: For at least some portion of approximately 12 awe-inspiring hours, most South Africans sit glued to their TV screens, rooting for friends, family members and complete strangers.  What I personally love most about this event, is witnessing the stories of fellow runners - getting a brief glimpse into the personal trials, challenges and dedication associated with crossing that finish line.

One of my favourite moments of Comrades 2013 was hearing the story of Claude Moshiywa, the proudly South African winner of the 2013 "up run".  Claude won the 87 km race in 05:32:13, in so doing becoming the first South African to win an "up run" in 21 years.  And although my South African heart thumped proudly in my chest over this incredible achievement, it was Claude's story that brought tears to my eyes.

Claude winning the 2013 Comrades Marathon.  [Photo courtesy of Craig Fry.]

Because, you see, Claude (38) has a young family.  Just like me.  And he works a full-time job to pay the bills.  Just like me.  And yet, despite only starting to run in his mid-twenties after feeling "a little overweight and unhealthy", and despite having to juggle his family life (he's married to the beautiful Janette and they have two boys) and work responsibilities (he works as a Stores Controller) with training, his dedication and commitment have enabled him to win one of the most iconic races in the world.  A humble hero indeed.


The Humble Hero.  [Photo courtesy of Craig Fry.]

I had the privilege of asking Claude a few questions about his life as a runner:

Running the Race (RtR): Are there any obstacles that you have had to overcome or that you are still overcoming in order to be able to run?  How do you overcome these obstacles?
Claude Moshiywa (CM): I had many obstacles and still do.  But from my family's side it is tough on them, as I am often away from home early and get home late.  I have to say that my family is terrific and they support me so much and I am grateful every day that I have this support and backing of my family.  
I work a full day job as well, so I have to juggle my running around my work life, as this pays the bills.    

RtR:  When do you usually run (time of day) and why?
CM: Generally early in the mornings and late afternoons.  I sometimes do my hill work at lunchtime.  I don’t have the luxury of being a full-time athlete, so in the important months I do some of my early morning runs from 3 a.m.  Those are hard to do.

Claude on an early morning run.  [Photo courtesy of Craig Fry.]

RtR: Give a short summary of your current running routine (distance, time, frequency, etc.).
CM: Difficult to answer this one, as I don’t want to give away too many of my secrets, hahaha!  But I can do anything from 150 km to 250 km per week, which includes speedwork and long runs.

RtR: What are your current running goals/dreams?
CM: I would like to win the Comrades "down run", as I have a couple of Top 10 placings in the "down run", and then I would like to defend the "up run" title in 2015.  I also want to try and run a good fast, flat marathon course at some stage and see if I can run under 02:18 for the marathon distance.

Claude and Stephen Muzhingi running side by side during Comrades 2010.  [Photo courtesy of Craig Fry.]

RtR: Any tips for men and women out there who want to start running, but feel that they are too slow/overweight/non-athletic?
CM: Running is probably the easiest sport to get into for anyone.  If you are overweight, then you can start by walking and progress to jogging.  For the first 2 weeks it is tough to get into it, but after 3 weeks you will be hooked and will also start seeing improvements in the distance you can go.  It gets easier.  
I have many friends that thought they couldn’t run, but now are doing very well.  My manager didn’t run or exercise for many years, more than 10, and he ran the Two Oceans Ultra after 6 months of training in under 5 hours.
Running is great, as it can be very sociable.  So instead of drinking with your friends at the bar, go for a run with them and you will get huge satisfaction.   

An inspiration on so many different levels.  Claude, we wish you all the best for Comrades 2014 and beyond - the nation stands firmly behind you!

6 comments:

  1. Yes he is an inspiration but also a mom who runs with the stroller and takes care of her family is an inspiration too!

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    1. Thanks, Stefano :) . And a guy who fractured his neck/back and is slowly but surely making his way back to running!

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  2. Thanks Karien, enjoyed that. Have you seen the film about the Comrades - The Long Run [DVD] [2000] Starring Armin Mueller-Stahl, Nthati Moshesh, Paterson Joseph, et al? It's fictional but not a bad story...

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    1. Ironically enough you won't believe what a mission it is to find that DVD here in SA! None of the local online retailers have it, and I've never come across it in a DVD rental store. So sadly I haven't seen it yet, but I'd really love to!

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  3. Fantastic interview and also very good responses. I love when a person in his circumstances is able to achieve something like a Comrades win! I enjoyed the fact he won't give out all his secrets either. :)
    Lovely man- deserving of a win!

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    1. I totally agree, Raina - such a deserving winner!

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