19 Jul

My husband is a Comrades Marathon runner, and he has been blessed to participate and finish 13 runs. His first run was a ‘down’ run, and the experience was so grueling that when he reached halfway, he told himself that there was no way he would finish. Not alive anyway. 

He was running with a very close friend of his who had more experience and kept encouraging him along the way. He had so much faith in him, and believed they would cross the line together, that my husband couldn’t find it in himself to let the friend know that he actually had already made up his mind to abandon this dream. So, he came up with a strategy. The first thing he did was ditch the friend. And in a race where there are thousands of people, this was pretty much easy. All he needed to do was to slow down a bit, pretend to be fixing a loose shoelace, and get lost in the crowd. This was executed well, and he was now ready for the second strategy. Bail out. 

In his mind he had already given up and had given himself a thousand reasons why this was the right thing to do.
He owed no one anything.
Christ had already paid for his sins so there was no need to punish himself.
He was too young to die.
He had a wife and kids who needed him.
Only crazy people did this marathon thing, and he was obviously not crazy enough.
So his strategy was to run until he got to Pinetown, which is where our home was, then take a short left to our house, call us and let us know we can come back 'cause he’s home already. 

Since he knew we would be waiting for him in Pinetown, because we had been on the road supporting him since the race began, he reasoned that it would be better to play along when he saw us and pretend as if he would see us at the next meeting point. Maybe it’s significant here to note that the distance between Pinetown and Durban, where the race ended, is around 20km. So essentially, my husband would bail out after having run for almost 70km. He shares that interestingly, once this decision was made, he continued to run, pick up water at refreshment stations, and respond to the crowds that cheered the runners on. 

And then he came to Pinetown. As soon as the crowds saw him, they all stood on their feet, ululating, shouting his name, and cheering him on. He was to learn later on that because he was running for the local club, this is the acknowledgment that was reserved for the runners representing Pinetown. While he was floating in excitement he came to the spot where we were waiting for him. We gave him refreshments, a quick massage, and sent him off with words of encouragement. He left feeling so good and yet so sad because it seemed like everyone believed in him except himself. He was also feeling sad about the fact that he was going to disappoint so many people who had faith in him. 

While he was still pondering and reflecting on his next move, a certain gentleman left the crowd, ran alongside him and counselled him, “Join the bus! Join the bus!” A bus is a group of runners that are led by a "bus driver" with sufficient knowledge and experience of the course to provide a service to get runners to the finish line within the cut-off time. He was lost as to what this gentleman meant, and initially thought he was advising him to get on the rescue bus. Apparently seeing the confusion on his face, the gentleman smiled and persisted. “You still look good, but join the bus!” Drawing his attention, he pointed behind and my husband saw a crowd of runners chanting as they easily made their way through. Then my husband got the message and smiled in gratitude to the stranger. And he joined the bus and made it to the finish line an hour before the cut off time. 

So, what are some of the lessons we can learn from this narrative that can help us in this journey to build romantic relationships and marriages that are spaces filled with love, joy, peace, and safety?
• Victories are won or lost in the mind, and sometimes we give up while we can still go on another mile or two, or even twenty. If you think you can, you can. But if you think you can’t, then it’s game over.
• The relationship is not going to work on itself, and while it’s important to have a plan, it’s also okay to review and adjust your game plan accordingly.
• Be open to counsel. You don’t know everything, and at times it may come from the least expected source. You do not know everything, but somewhere, someone has faced a challenge like yours and they overcame. Be open to the words of wisdom they share. This might save the day and your relationship.
• Be grateful for and immerse yourself in the love and support of those who love you and are cheering you on. Many people want to see you succeed.
• This is not just your race. You have your spouse, children, family, and friends who are also invested in this dream of building a family that is a paradise on earth. Consider the impact of your choices upon them.
• Join the bus. An African proverb tells us, if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together. ‘Till death do us part’ can be a long journey, and it can get lonely and discouraging. Join likeminded people. Find a community of people who share similar values and are in this for the long haul. Attend couples' events such as retreats and outings. Here, you learn from the wisdom and experience of others, knowledge and information from experts, and receive tips and words of encouragement from other couples.
• Last but not least, you’ve got this. You just need to believe it and live accordingly.

* The email will not be published on the website.