A year ago this time, ASICS FrontRunner Wandisile Nongodlwana was in Paris for the Paris Marathon. This year things were different, but he chose to keep running.
Today (05 April 2020) I was supposed to in Paris, France. From the day I realised that I was going to do Paris Marathon, I got excited. I made sure I get and follow a program that would possibly make me achieve my desired results. However, as we all know, COVID-19 knows no boundaries and so quickly spread through to Europe. That led to lots of races being cancelled or postponed. Paris Marathon was no exception. At that time, in South Africa that still looked distant. However, the first case was reported early March, not long after the government declared a national lockdown.
Paris Marathon is special to me not just because it is one of the beautiful cities: In 2019, a group of 10 amazing athletes gathered in London, from 10 different countries to run 10 marathons in 10 days. We started off in London and the final marathon was Paris Marathon. During those 8 days bonds were created. We shared meals, pains and aches. We overcame differences and become one team, one family: we are still connected even today we are still connected. We received the most electrifying welcome by international ASICS Frontrunners in Paris. We were filled with so much joy to get such great reception. (Read more about that here).
On the eve of the race we sat and planned for the marathon day. One thing was we agreed on was: 'We started together and we will finish together!' Now after running 9 consecutive days, all we wanted was to finish on time for us to get a medal. We gathered on the morning of the marathon, excited that we are finally running with other people. We got into our pens for our coral: Chariots of Fire played. The day has finally arrived! When our coral started, we never looked back. We ran the fastest time compared to all the other days and finished in 4h39mins57secs. The cries at the finish was tears of joy, of disbelief, of appreciating each other and the whole ASICS team.
As mentioned, in South Africa, we are not allowed to run in the streets, like most countries all over the world. Today as my appreciation to the #L2P team, my encouragement to all of us lockdown, to what would have been Paris Marathon: I ran around my yard, 80m in circumference attempting a marathon. I am saying attempting because the first time I ran around the yard I gave up at 5km. Doing 42.2km was going to be a big ask. Indeed, it was. At 20km I was ready to give up. I asked myself why am I doing this? My response to that 'why' had to be deeper than just me. I ran because I am staying at home to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections. The roads are clear and therefore the temptation of going out was there. However, there are infected people who are in ICU. Some of my friends are self-quarantined alone in a room as they are already infected.
Last year at Paris Marathon we hugged, kissed and wiped each other’s tears, with no reservations whatsoever. Today it is totally different. It is time that we appreciate what we had, have and we will have.
Yes, we might be locked down and in isolation, however, let’s find that time to do things that keep sound mind in sound body. Some ideas and inspiration here.