Blue Crane Route’s Swartz brings back bronze from 2014 Comrades Marathon - her first race!

AUGUST 4, 2014

For 45-year old, Benedict Swartz, a switchboard operator at the Blue Crane Route Local Municipality, 2014 will forever be a year to remember. She finally fulfilled a long-held dream to run the Comrades Marathon – which is touted as the world’s largest and oldest ultra-marathon.

“I am so excited that I managed to run and finish the Comrades – it’s a feeling that you cannot compare to anything. Thanks to the mood of the crowd and the other athletes, you do not want to stop running.

“I have wanted to run the Comrades for as long as I can remember. I told myself, I should do it when I reach 45, and this year I did it!” a thrilled Swartz told Cacadu News.

Swartz completed the 89km run from Pietermaritzburg down to Durban’s Kingsmead Stadium in 10 hours. Athletes have 12 hours to complete the marathon and there are a number of cut-off points along the route, which runners must reach by a prescribed time or be forced to withdraw from the race. Medals are awarded only to runners completing the Comrades in under 12 hours.

For her first try, Swartz brought back a bronze medal. She said while she was a bit disappointed, she has achieved her primary goal of finishing the entire race - which she says is actually 92km long.

Swartz said that she started running at school but left the sport for a number of her adult years. “However, a few years ago, I was standing in a queue in a bank and there was a television set that showed people running – even the disabled. That sort of reignited my childhood passion for the sport and I started running again,” she described.

“Since about seven years ago, I have been running in a number of competitions including the 50km Bruintjieshoogte Marathon from Pearston to Cookhouse.”

She said preparing for the Comrades required dedication as she mostly practiced alone and had to carefully schedule her sessions since she also works full time at the municipality.

“I am also grateful for the support that I received from the Blue Crane Route Local Municipality in my preparations. They also sponsored me with R2 500,” described Swartz.

“It is partly because of the support that I got from the municipality that I managed to realise my dream.”

She said that she found the Comrades manageable up to the last 5kms. “For most of the race, it is fine, because you will be running alone or in a small group for most of the time, but the last 5kms is when it is most gruelling as you are tired and everyone wants to beat you – it is not for the fainthearted!” described Swartz, who said she was definitely going to be running in the 2015 Comrades and future marathons.

She also urged young people to actively pursue whatever sports they may be talented in and appealed to municipalities to support all sports disciplines within their areas.

“You will find that in most areas, there are good soccer and rugby stadiums, but there are no facilities for other sports. A number of sports disciplines are dying in our areas and municipalities can help resuscitate them,” she said