Injury disturbs Paya’s preparations for Comrades Marathon

The injury that Malawian Imran Paya picked before the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon and which he aggravated during the race in April, has come to haunt him as it has affected his hopes of participating in the Comrades Marathon scheduled for this Sunday, June 9.

Imran Paya and 11 other Malawians are scheduled to run

Paya picked up a serious injury when he strained his left leg calve muscles and after being supervised by his physio for a week, he was given the go ahead to run the 56km Old Mutual Two Oceans race.

But after a while into the race, the injury kept nagging him and he had said the pain he experienced was not for the faint hearted to finish the whole distance. However, he did manage it because he had wanted to clock 10 years of participation to be awarded the Blue Number, which represents permanent registration number.

“After that Old Mutual Two Oceans, I could not run or manage to train even a single day. Such that, my hopes for participating in this year’s Comrades evaporated,” Paya said from South Africa. “But right now, it appears to have improved so much that I’m now thinking of taking part.

“This year will be my 7th Comrades and I’m hoping to get another silver if the injury gives some allowance. Out of 20,000 participants, I have managed to place myself in the top 100, with the best time of 06:36 in 2014.

“I had planned not taking a day off in preparations to better that record one day but njuries haven’t been kind to me throughout the previous years, especially when I’m busy preparing. But I’m confident that on a good day, that time can improve.

“And also given the fact that I just came out of the month of Ramadan, which also affected the whole training routine. If I will be taking part in this year’s race, it will be a learning curve, as to what the body can do in such a long distance race after been through fasting together with a terrible injury.

“But before anything else, I will be rejoicing more just to complete that race in one piece, considering the circumstances. So if I pick up a silver medal, it will be a great achievement for a body that have done so little in terms of preparation. Let’s just wait and see.”

According to information provided by the organizers, the has attracted thousands of participants from 85 countries around the world with 12 from Malawi such as Paya of Gugulethu Athletic Club, Mathews in Cape Town, Moses Ntenje in Mpumalanga, Elijah Kanyenda, Twabe Yasseni and Rodrick Phiri of Chiltern Club as well as Stanley Mwakhiwa, Peter Chiwaya.

Almost all African countries are represented in the race and those outside the continent include United Kingdom, India, Brazil, USA, Australia, Russia, Germany, Canada, Switzerland, Netherlands, Japan, Ireland, Sweden, Portugal, France and many others.

Paya, who is from Mbulumbudzi in Chiradzulu District, left for greener pastures in South Africa where he took up running as a sport and has been participating in the 56km Old Mutual Two Oceans ultra since 2010 and has got nine medals in total — six of which are silver.

For the 90km Comrades, he has raced for seven years since 2011 in which he has six medals, five of which are silver.

For April’s Two Oceans, he finished in a time of 5:46hrs, well inside the cut off time to earn the Blue Number.

According to the organizers, the first Comrades Marathon was run on Empire Day, 24 May 1921, when 34 runners lined up before the Pietermaritzburg City Hall to commence a race to Durban to commemorate the spirit and camaraderie of the soldiers who fought in the Great War.

“It owes its origins to the tireless efforts of its founder Vic Clapham (war veteran & SA Railways engine driver) whose vision was to create a living memorial to the spirit of his ‘comrades’ who suffered so greatly in the war.

“The first race was run on old dust roads, with the runners having to pass through several gates and at least one stream. It was won by Bill Rowan, a 26-year old Transvaal farmer in a time of 8:59, which would be the slowest winning time in the history of the race. There were 16 official finishers of the first race.”

The course is reportedly undulating and extremely difficult, including several infamous hill climbs on both the Up Run and so-called Down Run. The distance varies from year to year depending on final arrangements concluded with traffic and local authorities.

This year being an Up Run and also to be beamed live by South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), the race distance is 86.83km and the time limit is 12 hours. It will start at 05h30 at the Durban City Hall, and finishing at 17h30 at the Scottsville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg.

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