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Lace up and give running a bash

Echoing the words of Nelson Mandela, ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done’, Kim Jackson believes that with a dream and desire anyone can do anything.

A prolific athlete who lives and loves running, this 57-year-old grandmother has completed 25 Comrades Marathons, 10 Two Oceans, the Duzi, non-stop Duzi, Iron Man, The Washie 100 Miler and countless other events. And Kim Jackson is now on a mission to inspire Durbanites to lace up and give running a bash.

‘Running is probably the oldest sport in the world. The reason and motivation don’t matter; we’re all runners one way or another. Some people want to lose weight and others want to improve their endurance or train for the next marathon. I do it because it’s something I love and enjoy. It is my quiet time.’

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Determined to make it enjoyable for others too, Kim – a personal and fitness trainer at the Durban Country Club (DCC) – initiated Run the Course, a monthly opportunity for families, friends, birdwatchers, social and serious runners to adopt a healthy lifestyle while absorbing Durban’s scenic views. And what makes it so much more appealing, is that it takes place each month on the night of the full moon.

‘The event is a timed trail run or walk around the DCC’s picturesque golf course. Options are a 4km (run and walk) or 8km (runners only). It’s spectacular. There’s nowhere else you can enjoy this kind of view while getting fit and then grabbing a meal and a drink afterwards … you get a free glass of wine, beer or refreshment of your choice with your entry ticket. People have fun and it’s safe.’

Sharing the benefits of participating in the event, Kim says everyone comes in stressed, but after the run, it’s like magic. ‘They’re all rosy cheeked and chilled, as though all their worries from the day have been washed away. It’s amazing to see.’

For someone who’s clocked in so many long-distance runs, you’d easily think Kim’s passion for the sport runs in the family, but it doesn’t. In fact, she only got her running legs in the 90s, after her second child was born.

‘I was always sporty at school but not really into running, so years later when I was trying to lose my baby weight, a friend suggested I join Run/Walk for Life. Of course my first response was no… but I eventually gave in and realised that what I thought would be impossible, was actually something I found both physically and mentally therapeutic.’

Kim says that there are three important factors to running: learning how to run properly, enjoying it and avoiding injuries. ‘I didn’t master the art of running in a day. It took patience to learn how to breathe and pace myself properly and of course running with legends lsuch as Kenny Craig;  it took perseverance to push myself to reach the goals (even the smallest ones) that I had begun to set; and only once I started to see that I was capable, did I begin to enjoy it. Running is probably one of the cheapest sports out there. It teaches discipline and is great for stress relief and meeting new people.’

Reflecting on her first Comrades in 1993, Kim says she absolutely hated it.

‘I’ve run the Comrades with a broken coccyx, but this was much worse. It was a down run and I was green. My knee injury (ITB) played up after 30km and I literally dragged my body to the end. I made it with just two minutes to spare within the 11 hour cut off, and I swore I’d never do it again. I even threw away my shoes, but somehow I got back into it.’

In 2003 Kim completed her most memorable Comrades in her best time of 8h44mins with a smile on her face, something she places huge emphasis on.

‘No matter how tired I am or how much pain I am in, I’ve always been determined to smile. People respond to it, and it can keep you going, especially in a race like the Comrades where it’s so much more than about what the body can do. I’ve got huge respect for the mental race that it is, and that’s why I’m so determined. I’ll never quit if I can help it. I’ve simply learnt to make a plan instead of feeling defeated, and to have no major expectations except for reaching the finish line. This way, I run the race and enjoy it.’

With the down (home) run being her favourite, Kim uses the up runs to help novices or running companions to navigate the route.

‘Preparation is key to any race. Do your homework, enough training, have the right nutrition, get enough sleep, and definitely own a good pair of running shoes.

‘Progress slowly, set realistic goals and crucial to this is listen to your body. Comrades, being the special, unique race of camaraderie between runners and spectators was something we all sadly missed last year. It would have been my 25th!’

Not wanting to forego the race altogether, Kim did a virtual 90km run along the route, to raise funds for the Bright Eyes Centre for Visually Impaired Children,  who awarded her with her 25th medal.

This year sees the ultimate human race of endurance celebrate 100 years and with it the 2021 Comrades Centenary Hope Challenge. Kim has decided to meander down memory lane along the route rather, as she is saving her body and preparing mentally and physically in anticipation of the 2022 Comrades taking place as normal, provided Covid regulations allow for it.

‘I’m blessed that every Comrades I’ve started I have finished but, as with anything in life, you have to see the finish before you start. And that finish line isn’t about the time or the medal, it’s about where the experience takes me, the unity and encouraging and inspiring those I may meet along the way, something I will never take for granted.’

The DCC Run The Course

Kim says everyone is welcome to join the monthly moonlight runs or be a part of the DCC runnning/ walking club community. For those who are keen, the next event is on Thursday, 24 June. Fees are R80 for members and R100 for non-members. Book via durbancountryclub.co.za/run-the-course or call Kim for more info on 082 339 4826.


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