Hilton Murray – for the love of running, and giving
18 May 2016
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This is Old Mutual Live, I’m Brad Brown and it’s time to chat some more running. I’m super excited to have our next guest on the podcast, it’s been a while since I caught up with him. The last time we spoke he had just finished on an incredible adventure, we’ll touch on that today as well. He’s been making waves in the world of running over the last few months.
I want to chat to him about that as well and not too far from where I’m sitting recording this. We head to the northern suburbs in Cape Town and it’s a great pleasure to welcome onto the podcast today Hilton Murray. Hilton, welcome onto Old Mutual live, thanks for joining us.
Hilton Murray: Thanks Brad, it’s nice to talk to you again after two years.
BB: Let’s talk about the two years and why we spoke then. You were involved, it was yourself and Hazel Moller attempted it. You managed to finish it, it was an incredible thing. You ran the equivalent of 10 Comrades Marathons in 10 days around Comrades two years ago. Have you recovered from that yet?
HM: Not yet, every time I get onto the scale, I can see I’m totally underweight, so there’s problems. I’ve always been skinny, I think it took me about two weeks to recover and then I was fine again. I still don’t have a doctor.
For the love of just running
BB: That’s good news, Hilton, I’m amazed at the amount of running, I’m friends with you on social media. I follow you and I see what you do, you run a lot. Running, you just love the sport and the more you can run the better.
HM: Yes, funny, a guy asked me the other day, they never see me train. But I said, I’m not training, I’m running races. So I’m always busy tapering for the next race. I do quite a few longer races, but I’ve never kept a log of my running so I can’t actually tell you how much K’s I do in a month. But I think in general, I think I’m training less than a normal person who trains for Comrades.
BB: Hilton, I think that’s a very important point you make. So often people get caught up in the numbers and tracking things, that takes away from the love of running. It’s obvious, you just love running. You just run cause you want to run, that’s as simple as that.
HM: It’s so simple, you put on your shoes and wherever you are, you can go for a run. If it’s good weather, rainy weather, every day, you might get a surprise somewhere. The thing is, with my two metre figure, I can’t hide. It seems to me everybody, once I start running, they see me. That’s why we’re on the front pages again, that wasn’t even my plan.
BB: Hilton, you say you’re two metres tall, you are very tall and I mean I’m pretty tall and I look up to you. But you also run with a penguin on your head, so that also makes it very obvious to spot you.
HM: It’s my beauty secret, I was told years ago I look tall and lean with that, and apparently I do.
Helping someone else reach their dream
BB: Let’s talk about why you’ve been making waves this year. Around the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, you wanted to run the race with someone. Tell us a little bit about the story about yourself and Anita and how you got to running and pushing the stroller.
HM: I actually, in 2009 my wife and Anita’s mum, they’re best friends. They decided to do Comrades, their first Comrades. I basically did all the training with them from January up until Comrades. That Comrades we made with six minutes to spare.
Anita’s father, he phoned, he’s actually a cyclist, he’s slightly more big-boned than I am. Anyway, he phoned us 2km from the end. He thought we were not going to make it and he promised on the cell phone that we’ll do Comrades next year. Everybody heard it and next year he had to swallow his words and join us in Comrades, so it’s coming a long way.
I was also at school in the Eastern Free State with Jannie, at that stage, Standard 7, I was Standard 4. So this family friendship has been coming a long way and Anita has always been on the side line and we jokingly called her the Engelbrecht Manager of Running.
In early September last year, I’ve got a friend, Graham Keane, he’s been running with a wheel chair jogger for the last couple of years. I heard him telling somebody that he built himself a new one and I thought, there was a 10km race in Stellenbosch around the middle of September. I told Anita, I’ve got a plan, let’s borrow this old jogger from Graham and do the 10km, that’s where it all started.
BB: It’s come a long way, you obviously had a bit of fight on your hands around the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, but you ended up winning that one. You ran and finished the ultra and you’re going to Comrades. Obviously things have changed with Comrades too, they’re allowing you to run. You’re going to take Anita and you’re going to run Comrades in 2016.
Comrades Marathon is going to be tough
HM: It’s going to be tough, it’s not going to be easy. When you push a jogger, it’s like running uphill all the time. Because you’re pushing against something and there’s always resistance. But I’m getting used to it now and it actually on the hills is just very tough. It’s a bit like riding a tandem bike, when you go uphill, it’s three times as tough as normal. When you’re going downhill, it’s actually pulling you, so you need the breaks on the downhill when you’re pushing a jogger.
BB: I was going to say, you’re no stranger to the Comrades Marathon, you know the Down run route very, very well. That stretch between the top of Botha’s Hill and the bottom of Field’s Hill can get quite hairy without a jogger, what are the brakes like on that thing?
HM: The breaks, obviously it can always be a better brakes, because it’s working on the front wheel. But I mean, it’s not that much of a problem. I think on a wet day it might be a slightly bigger problem. But when it’s dry weather, we just put a new wheel on the front and it makes a big difference as well. I think we should be able to handle that.
BB: What are you aiming for, time-wise?
HM: We’re going to use the fulltime, it will be something between 11:30 and 12:00 hours. It’s a bit like the 10-10, you don’t want to be a quick hero, you just want to be a hero!
BB: Hilton, I have to laugh, you’ve got a permanent number at Comrades, you’ve got lots of experience, but in your own words, you’ve had a couple of ‘epic failures’ at Comrades over the years. We’ve got lots of novices that listen to this podcast. You’ve got lots of funny stories and interesting advice, what’s the biggest lesson and the biggest epic failure you’ve had at Comrades?
HM: Flip, I’ll never forget, my second Comrades. I did that in 1990 and I decided when I was looking at the Noakes Book of Running. All the predictions there and at that time, when I was young, I could do about a 35 minute 10km and a 79-minute half marathon. I worked on the predictions going the Comrades and predicted I could do quite easily a Silver Medal.
Immediately I decided I’d do a Silver Medal there and it was an Up Comrades and I got to Lion Park and I parked next to the road. I had four hours left, but there was no hope for finishing Comrades. I was cramping all over. That was basically the last time I tried to do a fast Comrades. I think my fastest Comrades is something like 9:12. I never did a fast Comrades again, not even tried to.
BB: Big lesson there is don’t go out too fast.
HM: The thing is, I didn’t train enough. I think I did about 500km, I’m guessing, 500km from January to Comrades, that’s a recipe for disaster.
BB: Hilton, I love it, I just love your spirit, you tell the best stories. We can’t wait to see you and Anita at Comrades in 2016. We’ll look out for you, like you say, you’re not easy to miss and ja, best of luck. I know you’re nervous because it’s unknown territory for you, even though you’ve run so many of them, best of luck, I’m sure you’re going to do it.
HM: Thanks Brad, it was nice talking to you and we’re really looking forward to Comrades. I hope Anita will inspire the people, she really does inspire everybody she knows.