Eggs on the go, lost toenails, diarrhea: Comrades runners' gross confessions

09 June 2018 - 00:00 By Moiketsi Thipe
Long-distance runners may cross the finish line with badly bruised toenails.
Long-distance runners may cross the finish line with badly bruised toenails.
Image: 123RF/jaysi

Anyone who has ever run the Comrades Marathon will tell you it takes a lot of stamina to cross the finish line. What they probably won't tell you is that to make good time, not everyone stops for a bathroom break when they need to go. 

Comrades’ runner Franz Ruch and runner's wife Jessica Levitt share a couple of somewhat embarrassing confessions about what goes on behind the scenes of this annual 90km race.

1. GREASING UP

Running for hours on end is daunting to even think about, probably because our park runs equate to the smallest increment of an actual Comrades Marathon. Equally so, the amount we perspire during a workout is minimal compared to the sweat a long-distance runner works up.

The more you sweat, the more likely you are to chafe badly. That's why many Comrades runners smear Vaseline all over their bodies – including their private parts - as a preventative measure.

2. PLASTERS IN STRANGE PLACES

Speaking of chafing, greasing up isn't the only precautionary measure runners take. Applying plasters over their nipples is the next step in making sure that their tight clothing doesn't rub too roughly against their wet skin.

3. POPPING A SQUAT ... OR NOT

In order to make good time, some runners decide not to detour at the official portaloos and simply just pee while running. Levitt adds that runners are often set back by ‘runner’s gut'. A lot of runners fear this sudden onset of diarrhea and pop a squat in random places along the route.

4. EGGS ON THE RUN

Having your spouse feed you energy-rich snacks as you run past is another strategic way to shave valuable seconds off your time. Levitt tells us that she has met up with her husband at certain distance markers to pop a peeled boiled egg in his mouth — getting this move right must take a lot of practice. 

5. BRUISING AND LOSING TOENAILS

Running a 90km marathon with tightly-laced shoes seems stressful, not to mention the stress it inflicts on your feet. Moving up and down steep gradients with little to no breaks in between is known to cause bruised toenails, and in extreme cases, the loss of them entirely.


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