The Second Comrades Marathon was definitely easier than the first.

I mean I still think they are all totally mad, but I suppose I have got used to it now, the madness I mean..........

Would you, I ask with tears in my eyes, run for so long that your nipples were to bleed ?

I sat in a car all the way from a scenic trip to Umhlanga, listening to the merits and de-merits of wearing band aids on ones nipples but now at last some enterprising wag has now actually invented a nipple guard to protect ones most delicate areas. !!! Now you will be interested to know that this particular conversation was between two men, apparently the Comrades Ladies have the nipple thing in hand !!

Discussion also raged on the benefits of Vaseline !!

Now I distinctly remember Leslie Mackenzie being fired from the Rhodesian Broadcasting Corporation for asking for what did the Newly Weds buy Vaseline? And now I have to listen to conversations which discuss the most intimate use of vaseline!! Did you know that athletes cover their knickers with vaseline to prevent chaffing.? Can you just imagine walking down the street with your undies well greased and slimy ?(I also learnt that the lady runners do not wear thongs under any circumstances whilst running, or at least if they do race in thongs they only do it once !! ) Granny brookies are the order of the day it would appear.....

Vaseline is absolutely essential to prevent one from chaffing, under the arms, at the back of the neck, in the er,..... groin area, in fact the vaseline bottles on the tables all along the route are just as popular as the water points.

Possibly the most thought for a runner goes into his pre-race eating habits ........... because understandably what goes in must come out, and this causes a lot of heart and soul searching.

The race organisers do a good job I must admit (No pun intended !!) They provide hundreds of those little Port-a -potties along the route for the runners (Again no pun intended) I gather, not being a runner myself, that when one spends all day jogging up and down, one's insides also do a whole heap of jogging up and down and consequently a goulash is the result !!

Now, what does one do with a goulash in one's lower intestine, when one is happily jogging down Polly Shorts, when nature calls, and the only pot-a-potty in sight has a queue of twenty or so other joggers assembled in an orderly but frantic line !!

16 thousands runners cannot be wrong ..... all of them spend four days prior to the Great Day

carbo- loading furiously, all of them painstakingly swill down rice, pasta and potatoes, but all of them shun absolutely any sort of chili, garlic and veggies cos they are the big bad goulash offenders and no one, even a runner who has had to put up with the most utmost humiliation and suffering, wants to have a gyppy tummy on race day.

Montezuma's revenge, the squits, guts-ache, squeamish tummy, call it what you will, it is the Runners' Nightmare.

And so he will go to the end of the earth to try and make sure that the intestinal status quo is maintained by his diet. So the diet comprises "bland" this, "boring" that and "banal" everything else !!

It's very scientific you know, the fluid intake, the electrolyte balance, the correct vitamins, minerals, fibres and fuels. Correct fuel intake during the race is vitally important or dehydration wins the day !!

Can you imagine running round the block, let alone running for nearly 90 kilometers ?

But help is at hand the whole way along the route because there are no less than 120 physiotherapists all working voluntarily along the route, rubbing, soothing, massaging furiously the flagging limbs of 13 thousand odd athletes. (Odd being the operative word !!) The Voltaren Heat Rub manufacturers must be laughing all the way to the bank.

Another big money maker during Comrades are the manufacture of PowerAde.

My diminutive Comrades Runner aka "She Who Must Run" must, have all by herself, consumed at least thirty gallons of the revolting stuff in the three week run up to the Big Race.

This year, the flavours of the race were the PowerAde Orange and PowerAde Mountain Blast Blue. The race organisers are honour bound to proclaim the flavour in advance so that athletes' intestines might get used to what is going to be available on race day !!

Now when one runs for eleven hours, one must apparently consume not only vast amounts of fluid in the form of Coke, PowerAde and water, but one must also eat copious amounts of the right foods. The right foods are biscuits, baked potatoes, orange segments, bananas, noogy bars and these are available copious quantities at 51 refreshment stations along the route manned by 2500 volunteers.

"GUs" are also an integral part of the menu as these minute evil little sachets contain a ghastly tasting yugghy mix of 100% glucose, sucrose and Goodness-knows what else, but are very beneficial to an athletes well-being they tell me.....

With the race starting in Pietermaritzburg this year, ( the Infamous "Down Run"), temperatures were in the single digit figures at the start of the race, and this means that at least two layers of disposable clothing must be worn at the race start and then these extra layers must be discarded at strategic intervals along the road. Hordes of disadvantaged folk have found this out to their glee and athletes unfamiliar with the local folk lore, are often rather alarmed by local yokels grabbing their garb in an over zealous fashion !! Disposable gloves too must be worn at the beginning because cold hands mean warm hearts remember !!

Grateful thanks and well done to the OMs Striders who took Little She Who Must Run under their wing during her last three weeks of final preparation in Bulawayo and to love and kisses to Rainer's Rebels from Brisbane who brought her lovingly through the last year in Oz.

Dear Rainer himself needs accolades second to none because he has nursed (and cursed ) a vegan, two bricks and a tickey high, weighing all of 50kgs, through thick and thin to get her ready for the Ultra Marathon of all Ultra Marathons.

And to think I had the temerity to complain about the road tolls last year, I remember muttering on about the fact that the road tolls from Bulawayo to Durban and back were a whole ZW$14,000.00 , well, guess what ? This year the road tolls from Bulawayo to Durban and back were a mere snip at just ZW$99300.00 !!.

We can only hope and pray that common sense will prevail next year and that she will give up running and take up either knitting, tiddlywinks, yoga or bridge......