Durban hovered like a delicate dragonfly around 27 degrees yesterday. The days are incredibly warm and the beaches are still sun kissed with sparkling white sands. I don’t want to rub it in, but winter in Durban is spectacular and is the reward
for surviving the five months of ‘sauna’ aka summer when we steam like a little basket of dim sum in a cauldron of boiling water. Food in the Last Outpost has not yet hit the thermals and plunged to earth to hug the hearth. We are still happily munching on salads for lunches and Al Fresco dinners with glasses of chilled Chardonnay.
Having said this, this week is ‘carbo’ loading week for those steely souls who are competing in the greatest Ultra marathon in the world (well, I think it is), The Comrades Marathon! With this in mind I am posting a creamy pasta dish packed with enough carbs for those invincible Red Heads, the Russian Nurgalieva Twins, to cross the finishing line first in Durban this Sunday, then turn right around and skedaddle back up the Hill to Pietermaritzburg.
This incredible race, which no one can deny is characterised by heart wrenching TV clips of ‘knackered’ limping, bleeding, exhausted runners hanging on to each other for dear life and literally dragging each other over the finishing line. I just love this aspect of the race.
The origins of this internationally revered event are emotive to say in the least and here is the back story that spurred Vic Clapham to stage the very first Comrades Marathon as a tribute to those who marched, fought, died and survived the wars that punctuated his life.
‘Vic Clapham was born in London on 16 November 1886 and emigrated as a youth to the Cape Colony in South Africa, with his parents. At the outbreak of the South African War (Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902) he enrolled as an ambulance man into the Cradock Town Guard at the age of 13. He later moved to Natal and worked as an engine driver with the South African Railways.
With the outbreak of the Great War 1914-1918, Vic Clapham signed up with the 8th South African Infantry, and fought and marched 1700 miles of the eastern savannahs of Africa in pursuit of Glen Paul Von Lettow-Vorbecks Askari battalions. The pain, agonies, death and hardships of his comrades which he witnessed during those awful days left a lasting impression on the battle-hardened soldier, especially the camaraderie engendered among the men in overcoming these privations. Thus when peace was declared in 1918, Clapham felt that all those who had fallen in this catastrophic war should be remembered and honoured in a unique way, where an individuals physical frailties could be put to the test and overcome. Remembering the searing heat and thirst of the parched veld through which he had campaigned, he settled on the idea of a marathon and he approached the athletic authorities of the day to sound their views. His enquiry led him to the doors of the League of Comrades of the Great War a corpus of ex-soldiers who had formed an association to foster the interests of their living companions who had survived the War.
Clapham asked for permission to stage a 56 mile race between Pietermaritzburg and Durban under the name of the Comrades Marathon and for it to become a living memorial to the spirit of the soldiers of the Great War This was strenuously resisted by the League, but Clapham persisted maintaining that if a sedentary living person could be taken off the street given a rifle and 60lb pack and marched all over Africa then surely a fit and able athlete could complete the distance. Applications in 1919 and 1920 were refused but in 1921 the League relented and gave permission and 1 for expenses, which was refundable.
The first Comrades Marathon took place on 24th May 1921, Empire Day, starting outside the City Hall in Pietermaritzburg with 34 runners. It has continued since then every year with the exception of the war years 1941-1945, with the direction alternating each year between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the so called up & down runs. The Comrades Marathon is a cherished national treasure and attracts thousands of runners, spectators and television viewers every year.”
This extract was taken off the official Comrades website http://www.comrades.com/History/The-First-Race.aspx
I am so excited to watch Zola Budd run the race this year. I was such a fan of her humble bare foot running back in the day. Who doesn’t remember that famous Mary Decker incident!!! Eish!
Calamari with Red Pepper & Chilli Pasta Sauce
Just the thing to get your energy levels sky high!
Olive Oil – enough to cover the bottom of your
pot well (about ¼ cup)
2Tbs finely chopped garlic
1 large onion chopped
2 dried chillies or ½ tbs chilli flakes –
according to your liking
2 stock cubes
½Tbs freshly cracked black pepper
1 glass of dry white or red wine –if you don’t
Wine use the two stock cubes in a cup of water
3 red peppers sliced
800g rosa or cherry tomatoes halved
1 tin of peeled tomatoes liquidised to a pulp
handful of fresh basil leaves ripped up
400g clean small calamari tubes and tentacles.
100ml fresh cream
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and
add the garlic, cook for 30 seconds then add the chopped onion, chillies, stock
cubes and pepper and brown well.
Add you wine or stock and cook off the alcohol,
add the peppers and tomatoes, stir well and put a lid on for 5 minutes.
This will soften the tomatoes and they will
start to release all of their juices.
Add the liquidised peeled tomatoes and 1 cup of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the
heat slightly and cook until the sauce has thickened.
Add your calamari and bring the sauce back up to the boil for 3 minutes.
Switch the stove off and remove from the heat.
In the meantime bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add your
linguine, spaghetti or taglietelle and stir. Stir the pasta every few minutes until cooked
and drain using a colander.
Return the drain pasta to your pot and add the
fresh cream. Add about 100 – 200ml of fresh cream, it will all be absorbed into the pasta. Stir in well and then add 4
large spoonful’s of the sauce to the pasta and stir well.
Serve portions of linguine topped with another large spoon
of the sauce.