Durban – The medical team at the recent Comrades Marathon were called into swift action as runner, Junaid Bhayat, 44, collapsed after blacking out 150 metres from the finish line due to dehydration.
According to a statement by Netcare hospitals, Bhayat said he was motivated to train for the 90km ultra-marathon by the Ultimate Human Race.
“I have always admired Comrades runners. I was doing shorter distance triathlons, as well as cycling with Team Impi cycling club when the challenge of ‘the Ultimate Human Race’ inspired me to start serious training with a group of running friends in April this year,” Bhayat said.
The 44-year-old chartered accountant from Musgrave, Durban made a good start to the race, but as it progressed, he stopped eating and drinking and began to feel the effects of pushing his body.
“My heart rate was climbing higher and higher, and I was overheating but I kept my mind on the finish line.”
However, it was Bhayat’s body that could not cope with the dehydration, as he collapsed and “blacked out” just 150 meters short of the finish line.
Fortunately, a diverse team of medical professionals headed by Dr Jeremy Boulter were nearby, at the Comrades Medical Facility at Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Netcare reports that: “The Comrades Medical Facility has been a defining feature of The Ultimate Human Race since 1977. Headed by Dr Boulter for the past 42 years, the Comrades Medical Facility is lauded as the largest temporary medical facility outside of a conflict zone anywhere in the world.”
According to emergency medicine specialist from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Nic Dufourq, five or six burly schoolboys brought a comatose Bhayat into the facility. Dr Dufourq realised briskly that Bhayat’s condition was critical.
With help from other doctors and medical professionals, Bhayat had been stabilised. He was then transferred to hospital by Netcare 911.
Bhayat was unaware of any of these events, as he was in a coma for two-days.
Under the care of Dr Shabbir Dawood at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital, Bhayat woke from his coma and was treated for a few days in ICU for heatstroke and acute kidney damage.
Bhayat expressed his thankfulness for the support he received.
“My family and I are very grateful, firstly to God for enabling me to survive, and for all the doctors, nurses, paramedics and others who helped me in my time of need and for the amazing support we’ve experienced, especially from Dr Dawood,” he said.
At least 15 000 people took part in theis year’s Comrades Marathon race, with an average completion time of 10 hours and 18 minutes.
The Comrades ultra marathon was first run in 1921 and is staged annually between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province.
Compiled by Junaid Benjamin