We’re back from the coast and it was wonderful. I took a stack of books with me, and didn’t read a single word! It was good to press the pause and ponder the ordinary. The goodness of tasty meals, time with my beautiful wife, smelling the ocean, and no television overwhelmed us, God is good.

I made a few decisions on our trip …

On our way to Balito on the Kwazulu Natal coast, we passed Pietermaritzburg. This town has immense significance for me due to a grueling concept, the Comrades Marathon. It’s an annual race between Pietermaritzburg and Durban with a whopping total of 55.6 miles! It’s the beast of all marathons and in 1999 I ran it … or should I rather say attempted to run it.

I never trained enough for that ultra marathon, sure I qualified by running two marathons in preparation but for the rest I can only say that it was inadequate and arrogant of me to think I’m special.

On the big day in ’99 I completed the first 26 miles (the distance of a normal marathon) and felt OK, then came the halfway point and I cramped up so bad that the pain flung me to the side of the road – excruciating pain. I limped my way to the 38 mile mark and well my engine ceased. I had enough time to walk to the end but the flesh and the spirit was kaput.

As we drove towards Durban I decided to give it a go for next year, this time without youthful arrogance and proper training. So last week I started to train for June 2005! It was hard and I felt sore and irritated as I ran with Lollie (my wife is in super shape). I guess a better description would be, as I trailed behind her. This morning I ran again and I decided to keep a proper journal of my training and use it as reflection for our community’s spiritual training. Racing and sport was a favorite metaphor of Paul.

The lectionary that we (and millions of others) use at our church gatherings took us to Hebrews 12:1-4 over the weekend,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.