SMOKE: Email To Bruce Fordyce

Originally published: 16 March 2004

I'm no great fan of running. There - I've said it, and I stick by it. I'm actually quite a good runner - spending seven long years in a Hanoi pit of hell will do that for you.

But Bruce Fordyce - well - he's a great runner. Winner and record holder of nine consecutive Comrades Marathons, not to mention world record holder over 50 kilometres - those facts are hard to ignore.

But I don't really approve of Bruce's career choice, for all the good it's done him, and I had to explain why - so I sent him an email.


Dear Comrade (nice touch, hey? Shows I have understanding and empathy for your career choice and station in life, and scores me major points with the ANC Youth League)

Let's begin with the hair. I know it's a sacrilegious thing to say anything negative about our great cultural and sporting icons, but dude - haven't you been listening to Derek Watts?

He's punting this whole Advanced Laser Therapy with the help of a few fat chicks with hair loss problems and although I find balding Gauteng women as reprehensible as Derek's endorsement of the product, it's worth a shot, isn't it?

But I'm not really here to chat about your hair - mine is hardly a glorious waterfall of cascading, velvet locks. I did, however, want to chat about your career choice. Running.

Let me preface this by saying that nothing bores me more than running (other than horse racing, sailing, cycling and William Smith on the learning channel), and while that isn't really your problem I'd like to offer some advice. Devil's advocate, if you will.

Running begins with jogging, doesn't it? I've tried jogging a few times and I have to tell you - it sucks. Big time. Especially when you've got a cosh in one hand to fend off the ravenous, inevitable hounds, and in the other a freshly-lit fag which you try to suck down in between fits of gasping.

And no matter how many joggers I see (and I see a lot) - not one of them has an even faintly decent body. They're all lumpy, sweaty and cellulite-ridden, and all I can think of as I pass them in my car is: "Yup, buddy - you sure need to be doing that", or "Whoa there, sistah - I didn't know this was Be Unkind To Luke Day".

I thought the point of jogging was to make people fit? Yet I never see any fit joggers. What's up with that?

Still - you've long since passed the jogging phase, which would explain why you aren't fat. However - you must have done the jogging bit and based on that experience you started running professionally. Que?

I can understand becoming a racing driver, or setting your sights on a table tennis world championship, or indeed almost any other sport. But running has to be the most boring human activity ever and as such I fail to see the attraction.

If I were you I would have probably become a porn star, or an international playboy, or a secret agent - but I certainly wouldn't have wasted the best years of my life being boiling hot, out of breath, in paroxysms of agony and covered in sticky afternoon sweat, trying desperately to grab a cup of water from some enthusiastic roadside helper. No sir.

I would have simply hopped in a car, chugged back a Black Label and got there 20 times quicker than anyone else - surely that's the smart way to go? Does it really matter how you get where you're going, or is it simply enough that you get there? My opinion is the latter, but different strokes, hey?

I see that these days you're quite a celebrated motivational speaker, but to be honest, Bruce - I don't know that you'd be able to motivate me.

I can just picture the motivational cheese:

"Why walk a mile when you can run a dozen?"
"Winners cross the finish line."
"No pain, no gain."
"To reach the summit you must first climb the mountain."
"Believe you're a winner and you'll cross the line first."
"Winning is easy - but only for winners."
"A true champion will always help a fallen comrade."

Can't fault any of that in principle, but the man who says those words to me is a dead man. Rest assured I won't be hiring you to motivate my staff any time soon, if that's the way you're going to carry on.

I just think your life could have been so much easier had you just chilled a little, y'know? Oh, yeah, sure - you wouldn't have won nine Comrades Marathons on the trot had you "chilled a little", but in - say - 5,000 years' time, who's going to give a shit?

I'm sure you're a nice bloke and all, Bruce, but I have to wonder about you, I really do.

Anyways - enough. I doubt very much whether you'd take to heart the words of a sadistic killer, but at least you can't argue that I didn't offer you some advice.

Now run along.

Luke Tagg

BTW - what's with the Kenyans? Do you think it's genetic, or do they all live 25 miles from their schools?


I sent off the email to Bruce last night, and got the following reply this morning:

Dear Luke

Reach for the stars and you'll fly to the moon. Destiny is in the hands of those who seize it. You cannot flog a dead horse until you've run a mile in his shoes. In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king. Why hide when you can run? Carpe diem.




All Smoked Out,
Luke Tagg
Spending time online does bad things to a person, but I'm OK.

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