10 Jan, 2013

42 in 42 Against Abuse

42 in 42 Against Abuse

In 2008, while out on a run with friends, Retha Schutte mentioned that she’d like to run for a charity. The idea was left there, until last year. “In August, I knew I needed to start the Lighthouse Run. Often, abuse is an issue left in the dark. We’ll shed light on the issue, council women, men and children, and make abuse an issue that is not hidden away,” she says.


Retha spent most of her childhood witnessing her alcoholic father beat up her mother, brother and sister, and says she now has the opportunity to speak out and help turn the tide. “Now I have a voice. Now I can stand up. Every 17 seconds in this country, someone is abused – whether physically, sexually or mentally. We want to tell people its okay to speak out and get help. And we want to show them that there is life after abuse.”



Retha shares not only this cause, but also a love of running long distances with her friends Machelle Bremer and Sorita van der Walt. For six weeks, these three intrepid women are planning to run a marathon a day, starting in Umhlanga, just north of Durban, and following the coastline and its lighthouses to finish at Cape Columbine in the Western Cape. The journey will cover roughly 2 000km and the team will reach communities along the way, spreading the word and launching workshops en route. The Lighthouse team will also be accompanied by a community service team in clinical psychologist Eugene Viljoen, life coach Kudzai Shoko, and Herman Schutte, who will facilitate emotional intelligence and conflict management.


Retha explains why they chose to focus on lighthouses: “Every lighthouse has a unique signal and rotation pattern every few seconds. Like abuse, the rotation happens quickly. Now we want to fight against the issue so people can act against the situation before violence spreads. We want to get the word out there because little is done about abuse. We aim to council victims on recovery as well as men who want to be rehabilitated. We will also give children a chance to speak and give anyone legal advice when it comes to abuse.”



Retha and her running team are ready to conquer the coastline, as they have a rich history of running marathons and ultras. Retha has clocked four Comrades finishes, with a PB of 9:38, as well as five Loskop Marathons. Some of Machelle’s running highlights include six Comrades finishes, including a best time of 7:25 and 24th position in the women’s race, as well as seven Loskop runs. Back-up runner Sorita has been running since 2008 and has a number of half marathons under her belt.


The Lighthouse Run is set to start on November 19 and run through to December 27, which will coincide with the government’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence campaign. So far, South African celebs have taken to the project with musician Elvis Blue and Comrades gold medallist Lindsay Van Aswegen already on board to run some legs. Chevrolet South Africa has also promised the Lighthouse Run transport to get the word out there and spread light on the evil that is abuse.