How This Guy Is Preparing For The 90km Virtual Comrades Marathon

Plus, WIN 1 of 2 Bavaria hampers worth R2000!


Nadim Nyker |

The world was hit with a pandemic and so the Comrades Marathon decided to change the game. In a first for one of the biggest events on the sporting calendar, the Comrades Marathon is set to go virtual on Sunday, 14 June.

In no small feat, the Comrades Marathon is set to stage the world’s largest virtual event. This year, the race is the most interesting its ever been and instead of the Pietermaritzburg to Durban stretch, runners are now able to run their favourite route; whether on their treadmill or on the open road. And even better – this time they can choose from a variety of distances, from 5km to 90km.

But in true Comrades fashion, the real feat is to run the 90km and race against Comrades legends. The official Comrades Marathon website will include an online functionality where runners can virtually compete, run with and compare their times against the likes of Bruce Fordyce, Frith van der Merwe, Samuel Tshabalala and several others. Each participant creates their personal story and on completion is able to earn a real medal. Reigning Comrades Marathon 2019 Champions, Edward Mothibi and Gerda Steyn, have confirmed that they will be competing in the 2020 virtual event.

And with the entry tally nearing 20 000, the CMA is ensuring that ‘Race the Comrades Legends’ is The Ultimate Virtual Race creating a sense of camaraderie for athletes within their social space, adding value to running clubs and the running scene; and helping raise funds for the charitable sector amid the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown.

We spoke to yoga instructor and avid marathon runner Calmin Valentino. Calmin finished both the 2018 and 2019 Comrades Marathon and hopes to clinch the third when he takes on the legends come Sunday.

Calmin Valentino warming up in Cape Town’s Foreshore.

Firstly, how are you coping in these times and has your training taken a hit in terms of running? What are your concerns?

“I cope well in solitude,” he laughs. “But as for my training it was very difficult for most of the lockdown period, not being able to exercise outdoors. For this reason, my fitness levels have declined and I’m not as strong and fit as I was before the lockdown started,” says the 30-year-old. “When we were allowed to run between 6am and 9am this was a huge relief and for the first week I could feel how a 5km kicked my butt.”

Before we were allowed to run outdoors, Calmin resorted to HIIT training at home and yoga. “In the mornings I would do one hour of power yoga followed by 40min of HIIT.”

But the lack of road running has still caused concern ahead of the marathon. “In the back of my head I am concerned about taking on such a mammoth race of 90km with the looming effects of lockdown but running is a huge passion of mine and challenging myself in such a huge way really makes me excited.”

What kinds of training are you doing to prepare?

“I’m doing quick 14km runs to focus on speed, then longer runs 20km plus to focus on long distance and getting kilometres on my legs for race day,” he says. “Off the road I do yoga and try to take as many classes as I can online with MyUTOPIA as they have a broad range of classes, which conditions my body in different ways.”

How are you going to be doing the 90km?

I will be completing the race on the road. I will be running in Cape Town, from the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, along the Atlantic Seabord to Kommetjie and back again.”

What are your concerns as there is no roadside assistance?

“It does sound a bit scary in my head,” he admits. “Running 90km without the roadside assistance that you would normally have with the Comrades race. Getting injured would be the worst-case scenario but since I’m a yoga instructor I’m not prone to injuries that much as my yoga practice aids in this aspect. That being said I’m not ruling it out, I will have drive along support on the road to help me complete this race.”

Related: Relieve Stress During Lockdown With This 60-Minute At-Home Yoga Class

Mentally, how are you preparing for that?

“With my yoga practice comes meditation, this helps with the fear and negative thinking regarding the outcome of this ultra-race. I’m also planning on aligning myself through MyUTOPIA with the cause of the Kolisi Foundation, in order to raise funds to feed the homeless, running with this cause in mind will motivate me greatly when the going gets tough on the road and I feel like quitting.”

Related: 11 Questions About The Coronavirus And Your Mental Health, Answered By A Psychologist

How has yoga helped with your running?

“Over the years, yoga has helped me even when I’m not aware of it. I found myself not getting injured on race day like other runners around me.  In fact, ever since I started running I’ve only been injured once in my six years of running and that was when I ran the 2019 comrades, my very first one and I ended up injuring my knee due to the down run that took place that year.

“I was down for a month but as soon as I could I started with my yoga and running slowly, working my way back up to finish 2020 comrades without any injuries the following year.”

Personally, what do you use to keep fuelled on race day?

“My race day fuel consists of oats, I find it to be gentle on the stomach and filling as well. I would drink Game energy drinks to keep up my salt and sugar intake for the endurance par and then fruit like bananas and oranges are some of my favourite to consume during a race.”

Any advice for those preparing to take on the challenge?

“My only advice would be to have fun on the road. If you’re doing the ultra 90km then you probably enjoy running as a passion and the worst thing you could do is overthink it and take it too seriously on race day. So just chill and enjoy the run. Also have people supporting you, it makes a big difference in taking on such a big challenge alone.”

WIN one of two Bavaria hampers worth R2000 to celebrate Virtual Comrades week & race the Comrades Legends!

It’s time to challenge your favourite Comrades Legend on 14 June 2020. Race The Legends is the ultimate virtual race where you get to pick your distance, your route and then compete against the times of past Comrades champions. Race against Comrades 2019 Winners and Bavaria brand ambassadors, Edward Mothibi and Gerda Steyn in the biggest virtual marathon race in history! Entries close on 14 June.

Enter via https://www.comrades.com/race-the-comrades-legends-information

The hamper includes 5 cases of Bavaria 0.0% non-alcoholic beverage and lovely Bavaria branded items such as a cap, cooler bag, water bottle, laptop bag and sunglasses.

Winners will be chosen at random by the Men’s Health team. If winners do not respond within 24 hours of being contacted, the prize will be null and void.

Enter Below!

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