Leading an active and healthy lifestyle means making time for exercise – and finding a balance between work, family and play. For The Maslow Sandton’s Assistant Restaurant Manager, Thandazani Siloane, long hours in the restaurant and long hours on the road training for ultra marathons requires careful time management and bucket loads of passion.
Having just completed his 9th Comrades Marathon and with his heart set on finishing his tenth in 2019 – and claiming his Permanent Green Number for the Comrades – Siloane strikes awe amongst his colleagues, friends and family.
His work is demanding and so is his sport of choice. When his is not preparing for the Comrades Marathon, he covers between 50km and 90km per week on the road. In the six months leading up to the Ultimate Human Race, the time and distance he spends on the road increases dramatically enough to have his colleagues wondering how on earth he manages it all.
Siloane has been working at The Maslow Sandton since November 2012. He started as Food and Beverage Supervisor and was promoted to Assistant Restaurant Manager in May 2015. He loves his work where he gets to interact with people of diverse cultures, backgrounds and countries. He admits though that sometimes, if he gets to bed late, it can be difficult to continue with training as usual the following day.
“Training when your body is tired can easily lead to injuries and that is the nightmare of every runner to have while preparing for Comrades, says Siloane who runs an average of 20kms from Monday to Friday when in training for the Comrades. He allows himself to rest on Saturdays and then ends his week with a longer run on a Sunday.
As any ultra distance runner will know, it’s not only work that needs to be carefully balanced with running. Family life can also be put under strain while training for a big race.
“This is one of my biggest challenges. My family, my work and my running are all very important to me. Fortunately, my family is very supportive of me as they understand that I love running. I also manage to find a way to ensure that I create time for my family, for my training and also my work. But this is only possible because I have support.”
He started running in high school in Durban, where he was raised.
“I was not a serious runner at all. I used to run between 5 and 10 km twice a week. When I was younger, I used to watch the Comrades Marathon on TV and I couldn’t believe that a human body can take such a long distance of 90km running. The passion for me to run comrades marathon started growing as I got older and I told my friends that one day I will also run this ultra marathon. None of them believed me,” he recalls.
While enjoying running shorter distances, he started meeting new friends and joined a running club, Durban Athletics Club.
After joining the club, I set my sights on longer distances. My first official ultra marathon was the 50km Chatsworth ultra-marathon in 2009. After finishing that race I couldn’t walk I had muscle gramps and blisters all over my foot. But, I was elated and I used that race as my qualifier for my first Comrades Marathon that same year.”
While many may wonder what keeps Siloane motivated to keep up with his arduous training, he knows without question that it is a lifestyle and he couldn’t imagine it any other way.
“Staying fit and healthy is great reward in itself, but setting a goal like running the Comrades or even a marathon can make you more motivated and give you a sense of purpose outside of day to day life. Running is a wonderfully simple sport. You are in charge, and you can run where you want, when you want. Running has a way of teaching you that you are far more capable than you think, but you need to be passionate, dedicated and dig deep to find out how far you can go.”
For Siloane, as for many Comrades marathoners, running the Ultimate Human Race is a spiritual journey.
“It is amazing, painful, life changing, testing, Incredible, emotional and difficult. On race day I always feel excited but once I hear the ‘Chariots of Fire’ playing, I suddenly develop a rush, my hair stands on end and I shiver uncontrollably, while my heart beats very fast. I feel like tears are rolling down in my cheeks. Even though I have done the race before, I always think to myself, ‘is it really me about to 90 kilometers’. There is no feeling quite like standing at the start of the Comrades Marathon.”