The story by one of our own


From my Soles by Joel Talbot

We pursued coaching: one as a Profession, the other as a Part-time!

Competing in an Ultra Marathon race is hard, but the toughest still is – Training for an Ultra Marathon.

Even more so, is the coaching of runners (I deliberately don’t use the word athletes!) for any Ultra Marathon!

My mate Coach Parry tells me stories of how difficult it is, even when doing it ‘online’, just like local coaches he must deal with the ‘disbelief and the untrusting’ of runners.

With local coaches the questions normally go ‘what does he know?’

He and I have a path running parallel in experience and qualification, al be it years apart:

  • We received training at 1Para-shute Battalion (As did Patrick from CrossFit!)
  • Both studied Physical Education at University
  • Both did Provincial coaching courses (Transvaal & Free State)
  • We were affiliated to ASA
  • Both ran Comrades and Two Oceans (Neither a champion but we are runners!)
  • Coach Parry went on to acclaim various coaching seminars
  • I completed my Masters in Coaching
  • Lindsey Parry is an exceptional coach, now appointed as official Comrades Marathon Coach. His podcasts are not to be missed.
  • He put everything into it be-coming a professional, I took to it as a past-time!

Online, Lindsey has seen great success, however locally (his hometown) it took time, several years of full time coaching before he was established as one of the best, especially where road running, and Comrades were concerned!  - The old Biblical saying ‘A prophet is not recognized in his own land!’ comes to mind.

I am pleased to say he has published some of my work.

No one ever asks the coach, ‘How are you?’

So, it is lonely out there, we too run, not as fast, but once we did!

Iron Man, the Desert Ultra, and the Comrades Marathon are all tough, even more so the Comrades with its relentless slogging, kilometer after kilometer on hard, hot tar roads - often alone!

Yes, on the day, the Comrades Marathon can be totally unforgiving, stretching over massive hills in KZN. Although there are many ‘hoop hoops’ as well as colorful water points, boredom can creep in and cause the syndrome:

‘The loneliness of the long-distance runner’.

The other great events (And, they are great!) are each special in their own unique way:

The Iron Man is an iconic event testing three disciplines, two of which are technical i.e. swimming and cycling, and if one wishes to attempt, special trainers and classes in those chastisements need to be considered.

Multistage Ultra Races are exactly that – multi stages. The distance is divided between days with overnight stays to rest up in between days. Very often long distances can only be hiked because of the terrain and weather. Watching the Desert Ultra, I have visions of the French Foreign Legion.  These athletes are very very tough individuals indeed!

The Comrades Marathon is the ‘Great Equalizer, testing heart and soul, a journey apart from any other competition, a voyage of ‘Hard Slog’!

It is said, to compare the Comrades Marathon to other great events, would be plain ignorant and arrogant,

Of that, I am truly guilty. Yet, I make no apology for it.

You see…

It is what it is!

Joe Talbot.

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