How I went from zero to a 90 km run with Vitality - Ros Karamba


Ros Karamba, who works as a project manager in financial services, says she went from someone who didn't exercise often, to running a virtual Comrades marathon, thanks to nudges from Vitality.

Cape-based Ros was encouraged to share her story and wrote to us recently, saying, "Vitality helped me achieve my goal of running 90 km as part of the Comrades Virtual Hope Challenge. I am a novice ultra-marathon runner and this was my first 90 km run. I would like to inspire others that it is possible to achieve their goals and share how Vitality rewards provided the fantastic inspiration."

She says: "I have asthma but have managed to get it under control with exercise. I know I have to exercise to keep healthy. But without a 'carrot', I find it hard to make my goals."

Ros says she didn't pay attention to her Vitality membership for several years until a colleague tempted her with all the rewards she was missing out on, giving her a way forward with her exercise regime.

"It started with me buying my Polar watch. I really started taking my fitness seriously and it was such a pat on the back whenever I got a reward. I found the rewards tangible from the get-go. I treated myself to a coffee, or saved up to buy essentials from Dis-Chem. Then the kids got used to me treating them to smoothies after their swimming lessons. With three kids, that's a really cool reward for 'free'," she says.

It adds up to health rewards, too

Ros found that she was exercising regularly, feeling fit and wanting to do more. "I invested in a Garmin watch and that is when I really fell in love with fitness. It sounds strange to say that the watch pushed me on, but it did. I did my first full marathon in 2017, completing my first 42 km run."

She says recently upgraded her watch with her ActiveGear benefit, to run a long, slow but momentous race. "Earlier this year I fell and smashed my older device, so I decided to get a new one for the Comrades Marathon. But I first went for my Vitality checks to ensure that I could get the best discount," she laughs.

This involved a series of health screenings. Ros is on Diamond Vitality status. "What was fantastic for me was knowing that I'm doing the checks for my health, but then getting a R2 000 discount on something that was helpful towards my fitness goals was phenomenal," says Ros.

Ros was determined to run a Comrades marathon

She set her mind on the 90 km race even though the Comrades was cancelled. A small running group in Cape Town organised a race in Langebaan through the West Coast National Park. "It was socially distanced, no traffic, and I Googled to confirm that there were no lions in the park. A group of keen runners with a goal started at 04:30 on 13 June 2021."

"I paced myself because I'm not a very fast runner yet," Ros says: "But I've learned life lessons while training. I'm not Usain Bolt, but I can bolt in my own way if I pace myself. We ran slowly but I was chasing only one number, and that was the 90 km, not a pace or anything else. We also chased enjoyment. We'd stop, take pictures, walk and mingle. We completed 90 km before sunset that day."

She says apart from the significant health improvement, her Vitality travel benefits keep her going. "I aspired to travel overseas every year since I completed university and let me tell you, the Vitality travel rewards helps to make my dreams come true. For example, in 2018 I went to Paris, paying less than R11 000 for two return tickets. The same year I went to the USA with a family of five. I also took my sister to Thailand as a gift. We wouldn't have gone if it wasn't for those discounts. And I look forward to travelling again when we can."

Ros says she was also inspired to complete the 90 km run to motivate her three children that "we can set goals and achieve them, irrespective of the challenges that we might encounter". For Ros, challenges such as asthma or not being the fastest runner did not stop her. With clear focus, determination, grit and Vitality rewards to motivate her, she was able to achieve her goal of running 90 km in the Comrades 2021 Centenary Hope Challenge.

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