Dennis Geach - 2009

I was always active in sports as a youngster, as with most kids my age (sadly not the case anymore). I played tennis and Zululand soccer.

The first time I actually ran for the sake of running only, was when I was asked to assist at a watering hole sponsored by Rent-a-Bakkie for the 18.5Km Heatonville to Empangeni run. Instead I decided to enter, purchased a temporary licence (age was not an issue then), and proceeded to finish the race. My muscles were so sore the next day, but the feeling of accomplishment and the pride of sewing the cloth finisher's badge onto my sports tracksuit, was enough to get me hooked. I was probably about 9 or 10 years old.

I ran socially and on temporary licences for many years, mainly 21Km runs and shorter. One day I decided I would like to try the Comrades marathon, and started my training. I had no idea of the commitment, time and perseverance required to prepare for such a gruelling race. It took many years to achieve my dream. There were some years when I reached my target mileage, finished qualifying marathons, only to get injured or have some stumbling block in my work and personal life which thwarted my attempts. I finally achieved my dream in 2006, and can say with conviction that it was a highly emotional moment and a huge milestone in my life. I believe that by setting such challenges in your life, and overcoming the physical and mental adversity of an ultra race, where you are pushed way beyond your normal capabilities, you are better prepared mentally and emotionally for any adversities that cross your path in your lifetime. As I like to put it, you "Stop Sweating the Small Stuff", and say "Hey, I've had it worse!"

I first heard about uMhlathuze Athletic club, whilst doing some social running around town. I noticed a bakkie pass me, and when it passed me again, I thought "Even Empangeni has stalkers??" It turned out to be the ever vigilant Jan Badenhorst on the lookout for new members for the club. He introduced himself and invited me to Time trials at Grantham Park school. I recognised a few familiar faces, and not long after that became part of an awesome family of people who share my passion. It is thanks to the constant motivation and camaraderie of the members that allowed me to realise my dream of the Comrades, and I look forward to repeating that on the down run 2009. And don't even let me get started on the social side of uMhlathuze Athletic Club...