Harmony Gold announced towards the end of 2007 that it would be withdrawing
from road running, it left hundreds of Harmony club runners around the country
unsure of the future, leading to many moving to other clubs – and not only the
elite athletes in the Harmony stable, but also many of the weekend warriors. Soon,
however, a new sponsor arrived on the scene to breathe life into the old
Harmony clubs, as the new Nedbank Running Clubs were established countrywide –
and this happened just in time for the Cape Town branch, which had dwindled to
just 21 members.
“Only a handful of the old Harmony club members remained.
Slowly but surely more competitive athletes joined the club and the current 156
members reflects not only diversity in terms of race, but also a wide
geographical spread across the Cape
Peninsula,” says Nedbank
Cape Town club chairman Wilby Steenkamp. “There is also a healthy balance
between top athletes, regular age group podium finishers and a solid, social
group who run 20 or more races per year. It took some hard work in hosting
regular functions and being with the gazebo at bigger races to attract new
members, but we are still growing.”
Today there are 11 Nedbank road running clubs and three development clubs
around the country, and many of the country’s top runners are part of the
national Nedbank Green Dream Team, including Zintle Xiniwe and Nkosinathi Madyo
of the Cape Town branch, while Bulelwa Simae is part of the Green Dream Team Development
Squad. Zintle, in particular, has been flying the club’s flag high in the last few
years, finishing runner-up in the past two SA Half Marathon Champs races, representing
South Africa several times, and doing well in the Spar Women’s 10km Grand Prix.
All regular podium finishers in the club are assisted with kit, race entries,
transport, and more.
CATERING FOR ALL
the elite runners have brought the Nedbank clubs many accolades since 2008, the
focus is just as much on the weekend warriors, so the Cape Town branch offers hill
sessions and track training sessions on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at
Bellville High School, led by club member Danie Nienaber, who has more than 25
years’ running experience. A 5km time trial is held every second and fourth
Thursday of the month from February to December, also at the high school.
On the social front, the club holds Member of the Month functions every
last Thursday of the month, including the end-of-year ‘Kom en Kry Braai’ for
the annual club awards function, and the club gazebo with refreshments is taken
to the 12 races that form part of the Club Challenge, in which members must
participate to qualify for an incentive award of free club clothing or a
togbag. The gazebo also goes to the big women’s races, while a marquee tent
serving hot meals is provided for Nedbank members at Two Oceans and Comrades.
Speaking of the Big C, the Cape Town branch holds a pre-Comrades pasta party
the Tuesday before the race.
Another highlight on the calendar is when the club enters teams in local
relay events such as the ATC Sunset and Maties 1-Hour events, with both
competitive and social teams entered. At the most recent ATC Sunset Relay,
Nedbank Cape Town took line honours in both the men’s and women’s categories.
The club also puts on one race a year, the Cape Gate 10km in October, starting
and finishing at the Cape Gate Mall and offering a relatively fast and flat
of the best parts of the Nedbank club set-up is the national website, where
members of all branches can get their results. We submit the weekend’s results
by 10am each Monday so that they can be uploaded, and a weekly mailer is sent
out with results as well,” says Wilby. “We also use SMS messages to communicate
with members, because it is much easier to reach everybody. But it takes about
two years to get some members not to reply to a bulk SMS sent from our website,
as we cannot see replies. Then we hear people saying ‘But I responded to your
SMS the same day!’ ” he laughs.
Steenkamp (Chairman) 084 200 4588
Running Club Cape Town