Puma Hybrid Site Take Over
MENU
Midrand Striders Half Marathon
26 Jul, 2018

Blazing a New Trail

512

The old saying “Dynamite comes in small packages” could have been written for Shafeeqah Gordon, a Cape Town trail runner with the heart of a warrior and the motivation to prove that you are not policed by your circumstances, but freed from it by your self-belief. – BY PJ MOSES

Petite 24-year-old trail runner and Salomon brand ambassador Shafeeqah Gordon from Westridge in Mitchell’s Plain is understandably proud of her achievements in trail running thus far, given where she comes from. “There is a perception that girls from the Cape Flats are only here to fall pregnant or use drugs, but I am proof that there is a lot more to us as people than just doing that. Knowing where I am from drives me to where I want to be.”

A late starter to the sport of running, this former netball player fell head over heels in love with the amazing highs that trail running brings her when she is out in nature, and she also likes the discipline it takes to become good at it. The University of the Western Cape graduate, with a BA in Sport Science, says that going out there to explore her favourite rock, Table Mountain, is something that she never gets tired of. “The view of the city from the top of the mountain is just so spectacular and it blows my mind every time I see it.”

Overcoming Obstacles
Shafeeqah admits she didn’t have a clue as to what she was doing when she took up trail running. “My big mistake when I started was that I didn’t train properly. I would just run as many events as I could, with no training in between, and this led to me suffering from runner’s knee and having a frustrating time. So, I decided to change this and get a proper training programme, after which my form and my times improved in leaps and bounds.”

An even bigger obstacle was overcoming the pressure of having a fulltime job while also studying and training, as well as the fact that running is not a norm in her community, but she says the love and support from her family and friends, especially the ones in the Cape Town trail community, help her to keep pushing forward. “My parents don’t always understand this trail life, but they support me, and I think they are just happy that I am keeping myself busy with the right things, and not off being irresponsible. There were no guidelines to becoming a trail runner for a young Muslim woman from Mitchell’s Plain. But just like there was no one else in my immediate family in whose footsteps to follow on getting my degree, I don’t mind finding my own way. I am always a Muslim first and a trail runner second.”

Highs and Lows
This trail journey has not been without its low points, though. There have been recent races, like the UTCT 35km and the UTD 30km, where the doubts overcame Shafeeqah, and she says the tears flowed freely. “You question yourself in those moments, and ask whether all the effort and sacrifices are worth it, but what helps me is that I look back to where I started, from scratch, with nobody seeing the dream but me. That helps me get over all the fears, and to finish these races, knowing that I am stronger than I was before, and that I will get where I want to be.”

Her commitment coupled with the guidance she got from top trail runner Meg Mackenzie throughout last year saw her take fifth place at the Helderberg Mountain Challenge last May. “I am inspired by the women in trail who have gone before me, and I want to learn as much as I can from them. This year, my focus has shifted to running longer distances and more technical terrain, and I have Linda Doke to coach me. My goal is to work hard in reaching my potential as a trail runner, and I’m doing my first international race this October, the Salomon Cappadocia Ultra Trail in Turkey, where I’ll run the 38km.” Her family and best friend Jadè are going along to give her moral support, and she says, “I’ve always wanted to run overseas, and it’s going to be extra special having my loved ones there and sharing it with them.”

Apart from the strong women in trail she looks up to, Shafeeqah also takes inspiration from books, like the Ryan Sandes book, Trail Blazer. “I love to learn, and this is just another way of learning to overcome the obstacles that life throws at you. There are always doubts when you set out into uncharted territory, but I back myself to get to that higher level. I have learnt not to stress about things that make you unhappy, but to change them. For any of us to succeed in life, we need to take responsibility to make ourselves happy first. And my trail life makes me happy.”

LATEST NEWS

Race Calendar - August 2018

08 August 2018 - Want to get ready for some fast racing in Spring? Need to get your legs moving again after some winter hibernation? Then check out all the races in August and use them as a great stepping stone to ...

Mokoka Claims Eighth SA 21K Title

31 July 2018 - For the third consecutive year the often windy city of Port Elizabeth produced a perfect day for running for the Nelson Mandela Bay ASA Half Marathon Championships on Saturday 28 July, and the athl...

Get ready for the Discovery Tough Mudder!

25 July 2018 - Tough Mudder, the world’s leading obstacle course challenge, announced today its ground-breaking partnership with Discovery that will see the inaugural Discovery Tough Mudder coming to South ...

2018 Old Mutual Soweto Marathon: Runners workshop

25 July 2018 - In 2018, the year where the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon celebrates its 25th edition, we are on a mission to empower the novice runners with knowledge that will enable them to ‘Run their Great&...

The Incredible Comeback

25 July 2018 - After surviving a brutal attack in February that had many thinking his running career was prematurely over, Thabang Mosiako not only returned to running incredibly quickly, but also stronger than b...

Rikenette’s Record

25 July 2018 - After coming back from an operation on her foot and having to learn to walk again, multiple SA Champion Rikenette Steenkamp had been frustratingly close to breaking the 21-year-old SA Record for th...

A Select Comrades Club

25 July 2018 - Winning the Comrades Marathon is considered one of the pinnacles of achievement in South African road running. It brings a massive payday, makes you a household name and really puts you on the runn...

Freeze-proof Fitness

25 July 2018 - There are two ways to approach winter from a training perspective: Stay tucked under warm blankets and sleep the winter away, or toughen up, get out of bed and set your body up for a few early spri...

Feet of Flames

25 July 2018 - When you take those first few step in the morning, or after sitting for a while, and the bottoms of your feet hurt like crazy with a burning pain, chances are you have plantar fasciitis, a common o...

Matters of the Heart

25 July 2018 - Dawie Aucamp has been running for 26 years, but the last few years have been really challenging after he suffered a heart attack while out training… even though he didn’t know that unt...

One More Time

11 July 2018 - Seven years after running her first three-day AfricanX Trailrun at the age of 67, evergreen Marianne Nelson returned in 2018 to give the race another go, and by the end of the event she had once ag...

Great Expectations

11 July 2018 - While some described Clarence Munyai’s fourth place in the Commonwealth Games 200m final as disappointing, it was actually an incredible achievement by an emerging young star. – BY SEAN...