Dr Yaseen Bismillah
Being a relatively newcomer to the running scene, after joining Jacaranda Athletic Club, in a whopping 6 months I progressed from running 5km – to 56km in the Two Oceans marathon. It’s been two years since then and with our weekly club runs, Leila’s night runs and wonderful weekend races, the support and confidence from the Jac AC has been overwhelmingly uplifting and motivating. This has never been more evident than when I ran the Budapest Marathon while on holiday, last month.
This word famous marathon attracts 13000 participants and can be considered one of the most international - with over 6000 foreign runners coming from 84 countries. Furthermore, it provides a running sightseeing tour of this beautiful Hungarian capital, including the City Centre, Chain Bridge, the Parliament building, along with the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Budapest – Buda Castle District and Danube banks.
Jac AC assisted me significantly with the necessary documents to be able to run internationally – a huge help. Running a marathon after two weeks of pizza and pastry binge eating, recovering from flu; and lack of training - was no joke. It is an understatement to say that I was going to be depending heavily on my experience and mental toughness to get through this one!
Nevertheless, with faith in God and a determination to succeed, I collected my race pack, nervously at the starting point amongst a sea of runners from all over the world. There was such a feeling of community and a multicultural love for running! The start and finish line was lined with flags representing the countries of all of the runners participating in the race. The nostalgia of standing underneath our South African flag gave me goosebumps, feeling like an athlete representing my country in the Olympics!
The route: an out-and-back along the Danube River- is mostly wide and flat, aside from a few slopes leading up to bridges at the several river crossings.
In grueling temperatures of 36 degrees Celsius, I was feeling really good until just before 30k, where I started to feel the consequences of not training properly. I knew the last third of the race would be a struggle. The sun was beaming down, and I was finding it hard to keep motivated. I kept taking walk breaks, but tried to run at least a kilometer before walking again. My pace had fallen and I had to dig really deep in order to keep myself running all the way to the finish line. With the sweeper bus a few hundred meters behind me, clearing up the end runners, I had to push to get that medal. Running for just over 5 hours then, I had not come so far to accept defeat.
With tired and heavy legs - I crossed the finish line in 5h15min minutes. I felt such joy, accomplishment and relief. I have never felt so good, despite the fact I could barely walk. I knew I overcame one of the greatest challenges of my life – which was training for and completing an international marathon. Especially considering the many factors of traveling abroad: illness, undertraining, overeating, fatigue, language and logistic barriers etc.
As I Ieft the race, the sun was beginning to set, creating a beautiful backdrop over the city sights and Danube River. I reflected on everything I had achieved and learnt from the entire marathon experience and had the chance to reflect with other runners. It was the perfect way to end the day, before a much-deserved night out in Budapest, followed by a flight home the next day to end the marathon journey.
My advice for others considering an international run/ marathon– you only live once, so live life to the fullest! Make the most of the opportunity, plan well, make all the necessary arrangements, and have a strong mindset on race day. A race is a race, no matter where you run it. And that is the unique beauty of running, you feel at home wherever in the world you are. Thank you Jacaranda AC for the support and encouragement every step of the way.
Jacaranda athletic clubs chairperson Cassim Kharbai and Vice Chair Haroon Abramjee congratulated the young medical specialist. "We are proud as he has now represented Jacaranda athletic club on the international stage. We look forward to Dr Yaseen Bismillah partaking in the worlds toughest ultra marathon the Comrades Marathon next year."
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