Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The Sting Handshake

The Comrades Marathon is an ultra-marathon held in South Africa. It's a race covering a distance of 90 KM. But it's not just the distance which is mind-numbing, the race has time cut-offs at points in between the race. If you don't make it in the given time, you are out of the race. Not only that, the race circuit closes in 12 hours. Training for Comrades is 6 months long and requires you to run 1 marathon and 3 ultra-marathons -- yes, the training plan assumes that you are an experienced runner.

Tanvir is planning to run the Comrades Marathon in 2010 (all the very best to him). I heard about Bruce Fordyce while watching one of the youtube videos which Tanvir had linked to in his post.

Fordyce has won Comrades a record 9 times. One of the gestures which he used to perform in the race, was called the "Sting Handshake". During the last phases of the race, Fordyce would come from the behind and give a handshake, to whoever was in front, and overtake with ease.

From Daily News:
Bruce Fordyce gave Hosea Tjale and Mark Page his trademark handshake in 1987 and 1989, a gesture that sucked the life out of both of them as he then disappeared into the sunset and added another win to his collection.

For me, the Sting Handshake is more like an iron-fist in a velvet glove.
Passing is not a game, it's a statement. Passing another runner says, I am better than you.


Leonardes said...

"The Sting Handshake"? This is the first time I ever hear anyone referring to it as the "The Sting Handshake". I then watched the youtube video and also heard them using that term.
I always knew it as "Kiss of death handshake" , and I quote from Bruce Fordyce's autobiography "The media had described it as Fordyce's "Kiss of Death handshake". This was unfortunate because it was never used as a competitive ploy. It was a genuine gesture of camaraderie..."

Other points to take note off, the race is not run on a circuit, it is a point to point race.
You need to run and finish at least one marathon within the qualifying time (I think it is now within 5 hours), however, I would agree and encourage you to do a few more, especially and ultra or two.

If ever you need inspiration or motivation, get your self a copy of "Bruce Fordyce Comrdes king", which is his autobiography.

Comrades will change your life.
Good luck for 2010

Rohit said...


Thanks for the corrections. I will try and get the book.