Dad arrives at son’s wedding in running gear after Comrades

Anver and Bilkish Omar with the wedding couple, Wassim Omar and Raihanah Elgasi. Picture: Supplied

Anver and Bilkish Omar with the wedding couple, Wassim Omar and Raihanah Elgasi. Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 16, 2024


MOST Comrades Marathon runners sought the comfort of their beds after Sunday's 85.9km race from Durban to Pietermaritzburg, but 66-year-old Anver Omar headed straight to his son's wedding.

While he may have arrived three hours later than anticipated, he got a hero's welcome.

“The wedding guests began arriving at the venue at Sunkist Restaurant in Durban at 5.30pm. I was supposed to make it in time for the start of the wedding, but I took longer than expected to complete the race. Added to that, there was gridlocked traffic from Pietermaritzburg to Durban," said Omar, who completed his 13th Comrades Marathon.

"I was meant to go home, shower and change but I didn't have the time. I arrived at the venue at 8.45pm in my running gear to a special welcome from family and friends. I did not even make it in time for dessert," he said.

His son Wassim Omar, who lives in Australia, married Raihanah Elgasi, also from Oz.

"The wedding was planned on this date because all of our family members were in South Africa at the time," said Omar, a retired dentist.

Omar was born in Johannesburg and emigrated with his family to the United Kingdom when he was three. He now resides in north west London but still has a home in Durban.

“My wife Bilkish and I arrived in South Africa on June 2. My family and I live in different countries overseas, so it was difficult to coordinate a time when we could all be together. I knew I would participate in the marathon this year and the wedding ended up being scheduled for the same day, so we could include all our family and friends.

“They had a Nikah, which is the religious part of the wedding, in Australia. The wedding on Sunday was regarded as the official wedding as the overwhelming majority of our family live here."

He said the newlyweds would travelled to Cape Town on Wednesday for their honeymoon.

Omar’s daughter-in-law, who hugged him upon his arrival at the wedding venue, told the POST: “I have the best father-in-law ever. He rocked up at the wedding even after completing such a difficult race.”

Speaking about his Comrades run, Omar said he competed as a South African runner.

"Prior to arriving in South Africa, I did a lot of training and took part in qualifying races in Durban and the United Kingdom. In the buildup to the race, I had carbo-loaded meals and trained myself to wake up early,” said the father of three.

He added that the start of the race was the most moving experience

“Some marathons usually start with groups at a time. The mass start of the Comrades Marathon is unique and a great experience. The singing of the national anthem and the support from everyone is always moving.”

He said his wife also stood along the 30km to 40km mark to show him support.

"But she had to rush off to make it for the wedding. Going uphill was difficult and I finished the race with my slowest uphill time of 11 hours and 28 minutes."

Omar has two other children: Yusuf Omar, a travel journalist, and Adila Loonat, who lives in Durban.

Omar and his wife will return to London on July 10.


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comrades marathon