It isn’t really possible for me to write the race report of someone else’s race when I wasn’t even present. This is actually an acknowledgement of an amazing performance by a great running mate. Kirsten will not brag about his own performance, so I will do it on his behalf.
I started running with Kirsten just after mid-year of 2011 while living in Johannesburg, South Africa. We were both members of Fourways Road Runners. In addition to Thursday time trials at our own club we would meet up on Tuesday afternoon for a warmup run prior to the time trial at the Rand Athletic Club (RAC). We started adding in weekend runs and races, and then Wednesday became our mid-week long run with routes such as the Bryanston Half and later the Four Peaks Challenge. The runs and the mileage continued to build up.
All in all I have run literally thousands of kilometres alongside, and often behind, Kirsten. His impressive pace meant that I was often running hard to keep up, and I can credit much of my vast running improvement since 2011 to Kirsten and our other running mates in Lindsey and Campbell.
Kirsten has also been present at some of my best running moments. In 2013 he ran alongside me for a new best time over the half marathon distance, and the finish-line photo shows that he was as happy at the result as I was. A couple of months ago we ran together down Avenue Foch as I completed a new marathon best in Paris.
Kirsten’s main race has always been the 89-km Comrades Marathon. He went into this year with a Bill Rowan Medal in 2008 followed by five consecutive Silver Medals. But after a fastest time of 6:57 in 2010 he arrived at the start line in the past couple of years not at his best due to injuries in the lead-up to the race.
Last weekend Kirsten arrived in great form. I won’t even attempt to describe his race, since my view of it was based on following him through checkpoints using online tracking, with occasional updates from Lindsey (who was seconding him along the course), and a very brief glimpse of him on television in the last few kilometres.
Crossing the line with a clock time of 6:20:02 Kirsten had achieved an amazing result. His time was good enough for 59th overall and 9th in his 40-49 age category. Included in the huge list of people finishing behind him was a pair of Russian women sharing the surname Nurgalieva, the twins who between them had won each of the last eight women’s races. But nothing can summarise his race better than the below photo.