Walking the Comrades: Veteran runner hoping to complete race for first time in 12 years
Paul Selby is hoping to complete his first Comrades in 12 years on Sunday — by walking it.
The veteran of 24 Comrades‚ who cannot run because of a fibrillation that kicks in when his heart-rate gets too high‚ will start his 90km Odyssey at midnight on Saturday.
The Comrades Marathon Association’s virtual Race the Legends race will give him 24 hours to finish.
Selby will begin on a 333-metre route through his garden and home before heading out at 6am.
“Hopefully with 30km in the bag I will walk around Oriel Park in Bedfordview on a 2.3km circuit that I have devised‚” said Selby‚ who turned 74 on Tuesday.
But he knows it will be anything except a walk in the park.
His route means he will endure more elevation gain than he would in the Comrades down run‚ although he won’t face the same hills.
“If I finish it in 18 hours I’ll be thrilled‚” Selby said‚ adding if he wasn’t done by 6pm he’d complete it back at home.
Health setbacks have scuppered his Comrades dreams since 2009. He broke his ankle badly and underwent three surgeries as well as a hip replacement.
Then he had to battle prostate cancer and now he needs to keep his heart-rate in check.
Not that these have stopped him entering Comrades. Last year his race ended with him falling and requiring stitches on his forehead that left a scar in the shape of a C. “A C for Comrades‚” he said with a laugh.
Selby‚ who raised R250‚000 for the Cancer association of SA by running a double Comrades in 1999‚ is looking to raise money for the Bedfordview Safety Forum’s feeding scheme run under the auspices of St John community healthcare organisation.
He has arranged for a table at the park to be used as a refreshment station for himself and a few other runners from his Fit2000 athletics club‚ as well as a portable toilet.
Empty boxes will be available for anyone wanting to make food donations.
“I’ve had a lot of support from people‚” he said.
Selby is an old hand at endurance races‚ boasting some 1‚000-milers. “My special gift from God is determination‚” added Selby‚ who has a best walking time in a standard marathon to date of 5hr 55min‚ which he achieved in Athens last year.
“We need to discover the attributes that God has given us.
“In my case‚ I have found that I have been blessed with a kind of perseverance that enables me to press on.
“The trick is to allow the mind to tell a weakening body that it is capable of cracking on and not succumbing to tiredness or fatigue!
“So this is exactly what the challenge of my virtual 90km Comrades Marathon will be all about.”