13th race for 62-year-old

Perumal “Richard” Naidoo

Perumal “Richard” Naidoo

Published Jun 7, 2024


Despite experiencing problems with his heart, Perumal “Richard” Naidoo, a member of the Team Vitality running club, has been given the green light to participate in his 13th Comrades Marathon.

Naidoo, 62, of the Bluff, said he started training and getting into marathon running in 2000.

“I did this primarily for health reasons. While growing up, my parents did not have good health, so I was determined to live a healthier life to promote that kind of lifestyle for my kids," said Naidoo, a retired transport manager.

"The road to marathon running began with 5km family fun runs hosted by Chatsworth Athletic Club. I then set the bar higher and eventually attempted my first Comrades Marathon in 2003.

"The feeling of accomplishing the Comrades Marathon was an amazing experience and got me hooked on to marathon running. I eventually set the target of achieving my 'green number'."

A green number is a permanent number given to people who successfully complete 10 Comrades Marathons.

Between 2003 and 2014, Naidoo competed in 12 Comrades marathons, completing 10 and earning his green number. But he took a 10-year break from running the Comrades thereafter due to cardiac issues.

"I set a target to complete the race this year in 11 hours and 45 minutes. Achieving this target is important because I took a 10-year break due to ill health and I would like to run with my green number.”

While working at improving his health, Naidoo did not stop training.

“I just slowed down the intensity of my training."

After getting a clean bill of health, Naidoo, who is now about 15kg lighter, competed in five 42km marathons this year to qualify for the Comrades Marathon.

He said his marathon training regimen was never the same.

"You have to adapt your training styles and routines based on your desired outcome. What worked for me initially was speaking to fellow experienced runners on how to properly train for a marathon of such magnitude. The advice coupled with a seven day road running routine prepared me for the race.

“You learn as you go along; where to adjust your training and your diet to improve your on-the-road experience. My training routine always consisted of both road running and going to the gym seven days a week.

"I now run between 7 and 10km a day from Monday to Friday. Then on Saturdays, I join my fellow runners from Team Vitality in a 10 to 15km run at 5.30am. I thereafter do the 5km North Beach park run at 8am in preparation for Sunday races. On Sundays we run longer races. It is usually between 21 and 42km. I think I run between 75 and 100km a week."

He added that his family was still his biggest supporters.

“Throughout my marathons, my family joined me on the road every 7 to 10km until the finish line, giving me constant support and motivation. It helps when you feel like giving up.

“The Comrades Marathon has been one of the biggest achievements in my life and I am glad to attempt it again this year.

“My cardiac issues did not hold me back from going back to the tarmac to attempt my 13th Comrades. My cardiologist gave him the green light to attempt this ultra marathon. All will be possible with determination and discipline."