In a few weeks’ time I will be lining up in Durban, along with 25,000 other mad people, to run about 87km to Pietermaritzburg. Why am I doing it, you may ask? The simple answer is that watching the Comrades Marathon on TV every year was a formative experience for me. Like many South Africans, I grew up listening to the names of places along the route in faraway KwaZulu-Natal being uttered with a certain awe and reverence. Inchanga, Drummond, Polly Shorts, Umlaas Road, Camperdown, Cowies Hill. They were associated with bravery and camaraderie, with blisters and sweat and cramp and triumph. From a young age, I knew: one day I will run this race. In retrospect I realise that, for a white boy in the 1980s, the Comrades offered a glimpse of a different SA — where compatriots of different races shared the road as equals. It would be trite to say that, for a single day each year, there was some respite from apartheid. The laws of the country didn’t change; racism and structural inequality ...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, Morningstar financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.