I’m not the world’s most serious athlete. Yes I exercise. I work up a sweat and I enjoy it, but my workouts have never involved running. In fact I normally hate it…

Run a marathon? Really?

On the few occasions that I did run I used my beat up old takkies. Because who am I to demand high performance sportswear? However, my opinion has changed since Men’s Health gave me a pair of Reebok RealFlex shoes.

The extreme comfort and support was incredible. The raised heels of the shoes kept driving me forward. Rolling off the front of each stride was effortless. It was almost like the shoes were in control…

Race Day

It was while pinning my number to my vest that I got a sense of just how seriously people take this whole marathon thing. Despite my pink headband, I was greeted like a celebrity on the red-carpet, with everyone having some sort of compliment for my bold footwear. At the gunshot, with the Chariots of Fire theme blasting through the massive speakers, a wave of energized bodies tore away into the distance and swept me further back. Townspeople lined the roads, clapping and cheering us on, and it took me half a kilometre to actually start my run.

Using the pavement to avoid the bulk of the crowd, I skipped in and out of gaps passing people whose comments were always the same:

“Sjoe! Kyk daai seun se skoene!”

As I continued up the hillside, over the rocky terrain and deeper into the forest, I continued to pass groups of runners. Now I knew this wasn’t going to be easy, but after passing the halfway mark I grew quite worried: I was now entering into uncharted running territory, having never run further than 5km before.

The run had become a mental game. My ankles were sore and my body was heating up fast, but fortunately my feet were fine. I kept my pace steady before coming around a corner and ending up in the finish grounds.

The bronze medal felt good in my hands. It didn’t matter to me how many people were in front of me, or how many people were behind me, I felt on top of the world.

56:53 for 10 kilometers, and placing 117 out of 584?

Hell, I felt like a champion.

The Next Chapter

Sitting here on a Monday morning, typing this out with super stiff legs, I can proudly say for the first time in forever, I don’t have any blisters on my feet. The shoes weren’t just a prize I got to use in a marathon, but have given me the confidence to do something I never thought was possible.

So thank you Reebok and Men’s Health for giving me the opportunity to experience something new.