Well, my first ultra was the 56km (34.7 mile) Milo Korkie Marathon in 1985. My motivation for running it…my dad. He had been a runner since I can remember and always my greatest inspiration. Here I am in my first ultra (no. 1623). I was 21 years old at the time. The runner that is cut off on the right hand side is my dad who ran all the way with me.
I received this tracksuit badge for completing the 56km Milo Korkie Marathon. Medals were not common in those days.
Here is my dad in the Comrades Marathon of that same year, 1985.
To answer the rest of Char’s question, I ran 3 marathons before I ran my first ultra. In South Africa that is the norm. You run a few marathons and then proceed to ultras. Marathons don’t really count in SA. It is all about the Comrades Marathon here. If you haven’t completed at least 1 Comrades (90km, 55.8 miles), you are not seen as a runner. Believe me, in South Africa you can complete 100 marathons, but if you don’t do 1 Comrades, you are not a runner. That’s why it was pretty normal for me to run 3 marathons at age 21 and then move to ultras. Comrades here is probably like Boston in the USA. If you start running marathons, that’s the one you aim for.
Luckily I’ve done Comrades so I can call myself a true South African runner.:) For those interested in stats, I’ve now completed 122 marathons and 112 ultras. This Saturday will be marathon number 123.