Egoli actor’s nightmare Comrades


Pretty much every Comrades athlete can tell stories about nightmarish experiences before the race.

But Egoli actor David Vlok’s 20th Comrades on Sunday was truly one enormous nightmare.

It started at 04:45 on Sunday morning when his friend, Candice Cullinan, called to wish him luck for the
Comrades, and to ask what the weather was like in Pietermaritzburg.

“I thought it was a nightmare, but it was true.”

“I wasn’t at the starting line, I was in my hotel bed in Durban,” said Vlok, 47, in Midrand on Tuesday.

No one woke him up

He hadn’t set an alarm and hoped one of his club mates in the Nedbank team would call to wake him up.

When Vlok eventually arrived in Pietermaritzburg and ran 3km to the starting line, he saw the electronic mat – which all participants have to cross – was being rolled up.

“The people there must have thought I was crazy. I had just come from the direction the athletes were running toward.”

“One of the officials there refused to let me start because I was late, but people who were still hanging around there begged and pleaded with him to let me run.”

“He wouldn’t relent, and I started crying out of pure frustration, and eventually I ran past him. I was going to run to Durban, and no-one was going to stop me from completing my 20th Comrades.”

Ran at full speed

It was 06:20 (the other athletes were already 50 minutes gone) and he ran into the darkness in the direction of Durban (89.28km away), with the angry official at his heels.

Like a real-life Forest Gump, Vlok ran, at full speed, and kept on running.

“At one stage a policeman – his name was John – saw me and asked me where I was going.”

“I said I’d started late. He switched on his sirens and blue lights, and soon there were three police vehicles and an ambulance escorting me.”

“At the water points people were already cleaning up. A few people recognised me and cheered me on.”

Had cramps and vomited

About 15km outside Pietermaritzburg, he caught up with the stragglers in “Vlam’s bus” (led by Vlam Pieterse from Hartbeespoort).

“When Vlam heard my story, he said: ‘David, calm down, I’ll take you home (to Durban)’. From all the stress and running so fast, I had started cramping and vomiting.”

“But I calmed down in ‘Vlam’s bus’. After the halfway mark I felt much better and started running better and feeling stronger. When I was approaching the finishing line at about 16:45, Dave Dixon and Peter Proctor (chair and deputy chair of the Comrades) were standing there, waiting.”

“I thought they were going to say I’d been disqualified.”

“I told them what happened and Dave (Dixon) said he believed me and I would be able to get my double green number. Then we cried together.”


2 Responses

  1. Oh shame what a start to his race. David Vlok has a special place in my memory. He ‘drove’ the sub 9 hour bus in 2002 when I got my first Bill Rowan. I had no idea who he was before I started the race. He was such a personality to run with, and for my first time on a ‘bus’ it was great fun. Whew – a double green….. madness!

    • I can also relate. In 2005, Gazza and I waited with Vicky, who had forgotten her ChampionChip in Durban. Her friend, Nicky, raced to Maritzburg (in her pyjamas & slippers) with the Chip. We were running to the start when we heard the gun go and we were about a kay away, trying to get through the blocked off streets. All ended well in the end with Gazza getting his Rowan, Vicky calming down to finish the race and me completing my 1st Comrades.

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