Keitumetse “Kat” Masike ran the race of her life on Sunday. Months of training for the Comrades Marathon paid off – not only did Kat finish the race, but she also raised more than R12 000 for Pink Drive, a breast cancer charity. She also ran the race for her late father, Victor Masike.

Kat ran the 89 km race, which runners believe to be one of the most difficult runs, both physically and mentally. But what got her through the race was the thought of the fighting spirit of her late father who died of leukaemia in 2012.

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Giving up wasn’t an option for Kat, and even when her body was giving up on her, she fought hard, drawing strength from the memory of how her father refused to give in, even when cancer was eating away at him.

“My father was the most courageous person I know,” she says. “Watching him and how he handled the disease… it was with such grace and such poise. He never gave up on life. He fought to the bitter end.”

She says that even when her father learnt he had an incurable disease, he continued to live life to the fullest.

Kat, who works for Standard Bank as a communications manger, says she had to work exceptionally hard to prepare herself for the race. She ran four times a week and did strength training at the gym thrice a week.

This wasn’t easy on her as it meant time away from her family and sometimes missing her son’s school matches.

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“I had to trust my training, go back to my logbook, because I ‘d done about 800 km of training this January. I had to look at that and say, ‘You know what, you’ve done the training. This shouldn’t be something you should be fearful of.'”

“Getting to the race itself is daunting. As much as you’re prepared, it’s still very scary,” she recalls. “The most I’d done before the Comrades was 56 km, but now I was going to do 89 km. It was something I’d never done – I was going to do something I’d never attempted. But as I always say, you have to change your fear into courage.”

The experience also taught Kat about her mental capability: even when her body was struggling and she felt like she was walking on pins and needles, the strength of her mind kept her going.

“It was tough, but nothing is really impossible when your mind is in a gear of achieving,” she says.

The experience has taught her so much. One lesson she’s learnt is that she’s capable of achieving anything and that one has to always follow through by being consistent and having a plan.

Kat plans to run again next year. “There’s a belief among runners that you can’t say you’ve done the Comrades if you’ve done only one – you must do them back to back.”