Chris BishopBy Chris Bishop|August 22, 2022|3 Minutes|In Editor's Desk

Editor’s Desk

When the going gets cruel – entrepreneurs get going.

Next weekend  Sunday, August 28 to be precise  thousands of African entrepreneurs will leave all that is dear and comfortable to them to slog through one of the continent's cruelest and most grueling challenges.

It is fair to say the word cruel comes up quite a lot when people talk about the world famous South African Comrades Marathon. It is a bone-jarring run across 89 kms of KwaZulu Natal from Pietermaritzburg to the seaside city of Durban.

It was an idea born in war. Legend has it that a bunch of South African soldiers sat round a flickering fire   in Italy near the end of World War Two and decided if they survived it all the would stage a race as gruelling and harsh  as the conflict they had just survived.

More than 23,000 runners – many of them entrepreneurs – will take to the road on Sunday. The fit runners – who train all year –  complete the tough road run in about 12 hours.

“Those who started training last week will be in trouble!” the veterans joke every year.

Medics line the route; as the light fades thousands of runners on legs that gave up the ghost miles back wobble, or crawl over the line. Sadly, many runners don’t make it- at least seven have died at the roadside. As I said, cruel.

One of the entrepreneurs who will be at the forefront of Sunday’s race will be Themba Baloyi – an investor in Africa who made his name with the idea to start up Discovery Insure. This will be his 15th marathon.

Now there are runners, serious runners – then there is Themba Baloyi !. I spoke him at the weekend for Billionaire Tomorrow and he said with a straight face that he has just completed 1694 days of running up to six kilometres-a-day!

To us non-runners that’s four-and-half years!

Baloyi told me he once booked into a hotel in London – ahead of a flight out of Heathrow –  so he could shower after his run before getting onto the plane.

Me? Never really been a road runner. I spent so many years tearing around the streets as a reporter as well as the tennis court, squash court, football pitch and cricket wicket that I thought that was enough for a lifetime.

Yet I take my hat off to all the entrepreneurs like Themba Baloyi who will pound their way through the pain barrier on the road to Durban this weekend. Surely, the discipline and determination required to be a successful entrepreneur prepared to run their heart out.