Comrades Marathon Friends Show What True Friendship Is

By Nomfundo Mlaba, Northglen News

Local KwaZulu-Natal resident Grant Adams says nothing will stand between him and his dream of reaching the Comrades Marathon finish line tomorrow (Sunday 10 June 2018). 11 years ago the Mount Edgecombe Golf Estate resident’s life took a turn for the worst when he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) – a disease in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves…

Friends, Andrew Murray and Grant Adams ready to take on this year’s Comrades Marathon Down Run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.

Before being diagnosed Adams was an avid athlete. Sadly as the MS worsened, Adams has had to let go of most of his hobbies including playing golf, running and even working.

Speaking to the Northglen News he said it was just another painful morning when his best friend Andrew Murray offered to help him make his dream come true to become a Comrades Marathon medalist.

How a dream became a reality

“I was just telling Andrew about how painful my muscles were and how I wished the pain could just go away. His reply was: “I can’t take your pain away my friend but I can help you make one of your dreams come true”.

“At first it was just an idea but as time went on, I realised how dedicated he was to making sure that my dream really becomes a reality,” said Adams.

Adams and Murray have been best friends for a decade. Describing their friendship the pair said they are cut from the same cloth; and have the same views on life, families, friendship, and life in general.

“We do everything together. Our friendship has rubbed off on our families – our wives are best friends, even our children are best friends,” the pair said.

Making a dream come true

Murray who said he was determined to make sure his friend’s dream comes true said: “Seeing a dear friend in pain is not a good sight, especially when you can’t do anything to take the pain away. When I promised Grant that we’d get him a Comrades medal I had no plan of how we were going to do it.”

Their plan however turned out to be a simple one. Murray would push Adams in a wheelchair for this year’s Down Run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban – that’s a total of 90.184km.

“We will give it our best shot on the big day.”

Despite being in the secondary progressive stage of MS, to qualify for the Comrades Marathon, Adams had to go through the same process like any other athlete. He had to do a marathon in under 5 hours in the 3-wheeler. To be part of all these races Adams needed a specific athlete custom-made 3-wheeler which was donated to him by local company PhotoNote.

Currently the world at large does not have the cure for MS. However there are various treatments that may help stop the progression of the disease for up 4 to 5 years. Murray and the community are currently trying to raise funds for Adams to have a Stem Cell Transplant and Chemotherapy (AHSCT – Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant).

Life with MS

“My only hope of stopping the progression of the MS is this treatment, which is risky, as my immune system will be suppressed, in order to reboot my system. Life, with MS, is very difficult, due to the relentless pain, and the soreness that the nerve damage does to my body, everyday. There are no exceptions. I know that there will never be a day off from it.

“But this is the hand I’ve been dealt, and I need to stand tall, and fight this foe. It’s lonely. It’s a case of having so many people around me, loving me, but still feeling desperately alone. I hope I raise enough funds for the transplant, it will buy me some time to enjoy with my wife, and two children,” said Adams.

During the 6-week treatment Adams would have to undergo chemo, coupled with a minimum of 21 days of isolation, due to the risk of infection as his entire immune system would be compromised.

Adams added: “We want people to follow our Journey. The support, and messages, we receive is what drives us. We read all of the messages, people send, all the time. In the dark days, I re-read them again and again.”

Murray who will be pushing Adams during the race added: “Sitting in the chair for Grant is extremely difficult, and tremendously painful, as his nerves are exposed. He feels every pothole, bump, and cats-eye we go over.

“We urge runners and the community at large to lend a helping hand towards Grant’s transplant. Even though I will be the one pushing him during the race, we have a brilliant team who we highly appreciate. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for their contribution and constant dedication,” added Murray.

The other runners in their team are Colin Banks, Damian Hand (coming from Ireland), Kevin Phillips, Rohan Eager, Mike Rockey, Greig Tanner, Thomas Lawrence and Tim Morris. Colin Banks, Damian Hand (coming from Ireland), Kevin Phillips, Rohan Eager, Mike Rockey, Greig Tanner, Thomas Lawrence and Tim Morris.

To donate towards the transplant visit www.mymsjourney.co.za or visit facebook page Comrades MS Challenge 2018.

This article originally appeared on the Northglen News here and is republished with kind permission.