Running marathons instead of rat races

Ask any South African what they enjoy about the Comrades marathon and somewhere in the conversation, they will mention the excitement around the cut-off guns. The screams from the crowds as the clock ticks down, the agony as some runners are reduced to crawling and the tears on the faces of those runners who don’t make it.

It was the same watching the Comrades marathon on TV on the weekend. As the clock ticked down and runners were left with less and less time to complete the race, runners were encouraging each other on, supporting one another, urging each other not to quit. When a runner would fall on the grass on that last stretch and not have the energy to get up, other runners would stop and help out, grabbing their heavy, tired bodies and pulling them over that finish line. Supporters were screaming and encouraging the runners. It was nail-biting!

The races I run are certainly not as long or dramatic and we don’t drag each other over the finish line, but in many races, especially those such as Two Oceans, runners will not let one another fail and we will support each other to the very end. If I stop to walk, those around me encourage me to carry on. When it looks like I cannot go on, other runners will shout out support and advice as they pass me, even grabbing my hand or pushing my back, saying “Come on 8408 (my race number), you can do this!”

Running is the one sport where it’s all up to the individual but where we all want each other to succeed.

Yet, it’s a pity I don’t see that same sense of camaraderie in the corporate world…

You see, my own experience of late is that if you are down, very few colleagues stop to help you up. If you’re struggling and on the verge of quitting, it’s rare that anyone will urge you to continue. No one stops to look at the full picture or give anyone the benefit of the doubt. In fact, in the rat race of the corporate world, it’s become a matter of survival of the fittest and each person has their eye on the finish line. The competitiveness has over-shadowed team spirit and people are walking over one another to get to the end.

We all have different goals even if we are all running towards the same finish line, but it’s important to stop and help those around you who are struggling or who may be needing that extra little push to get to the end.

When you run at my running pace of 8 mins/km, you inevitably land up at the back of the pack. A typical half marathon takes me 3 hours to run. But let me tell you, there’s something magical about running with the back-markers. A certain sense of camaraderie that I cannot explain. But also a vibe where we all realise that some of us won’t make that cut-off gun.

I wish my colleagues would only realise that in a race, the real reward is when you stop and help someone over that finish line so that in the end, you both achieve your goals.

5 thoughts on “Running marathons instead of rat races

  1. I couldn’t agree more, as a back of the pack runner, it teaches us to be a little less selfish, and a little more thoughtful of what’s going on with those around you!


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