I don’t remember when I first heard about Comrades, only that people who I deeply respected spoke very highly of it, and it became one of my earliest “bucket list” races. When I tried my first 50 miler and it took 14 hours, it felt like a distant dream to take on a hilly 55ish mile road marathon in South Africa with hard 12 hour cutoff. Today I got a chance to participate in the event, and I can tell you I completely understand why in one friend’s telling: “If you do one race in Africa do Comrades. If you do two, do an up run and a down run at Comrades.” This year is an up run, from the seaside town of Durban to the KwaZulu capital, Pietermaritzburg. 54 and change miles over endlessly undulating hills. You’ll pass by a school for disabled children whose smiling, cheering faces will remind you when you are suffering that you are tremendously lucky to be here in this moment and you should not forget it. You will see (and this happened today) people stagger into the finish in the last moments, stutter step, and fall only to miss the 12 hour cut off. No medal, no high five, just “Good try. Work a bit harder, and come back next year to try again.” The spirit of sport. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Today was a win for me. I hoped for better but I finished and that’s good enough. Fun Fact: While Comrades was created in 1921 this was only the 94th running. The race was suspended from 1941-45 during the Second World War. Note to Vermont City Marathon RD: This is an acceptable reason for cancellation.