Triathlon Growing in Egoli

Directing Comrades

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Eight
working hours in a day simply does not cut it for Johan, because his role as
Comrades Race Director involves so many meetings each day that it leaves very
little hours left to do actual work. The only time left is usually after
everybody has gone home, or when he is at home, where he does a lot of his
work. But Johan does not complain, as he believes his biggest sense of
achievement comes from being a person with vision, working systematically and
achieving his goals. “The Comrades Marathon allows me to combine both my love
for sport and my passion for success.”

 

COMRADES START

Johan has
been with Comrades since January 2010, when he organised the 85th Comrades
Marathon with one of the biggest fields to date. Being race director means
coordinating all the logistics on race day, managing the brand exposure
elements of all sponsors as well as sponsorship rights packages. The race
organising committee consists of 20 portfolios, with each portfolio responsible
for one specific aspect of the race, and Johan oversees all of that.

 

Quite a
portfolio, but with Johan’s background it comes naturally. He studied
biokinetics at Potchefstroom University and obtained his Honours degree
combined with a Higher Education Teaching Diploma. His career has been a
melting pot of sports-related industries, ranging from sport facility
management, athlete training, sport product marketing and sales, through to
medical rescue and risk and safety management.

 

A DAY IN THE LIFE

Johan’s day
starts between 4am and 5am. “I start with at least ten minutes to say thank you
for all we have and the opportunity to live my dream. Then the planning phase
follows, where I try to imagine all the eventualities of the day and all
possible solutions.” His day at the office always starts an hour before – and
hardly ever ends as prescribed by – the labour act! “This is not a complaint,
but a fact, because if you want to be successful, you must put in more than you
expect to get out. And Comrades always delivers more than you expect to
receive.”

 

Comrades
planning is a year-round job and can be divided into the “busy phase” of taking
entries and handling the administration and then the “very busy phase” of getting
the logistics into place. “This is where the difficulties begin, managing 20
portfolios consisting of two volunteers each empowered to manage their
portfolio. Then, getting another 5 000 volunteers to work on the day is no
joke! Their duties range from marshalling the route to supplying the
refreshments at the 47 stations along the route, where 392 tons of refreshments
get distributed to the runners. The authorities such as the traffic and police
department manage 450 staff members and all this must be coordinated from my
office in the weeks leading up to Comrades.”

 

For Johan,
race day starts on the Friday morning before Comrades and does not end until
Sunday after the race, around 11pm!

 

STAYING FIT

With a
portfolio like this, there is limited time to follow a strict training regime,
but Johan tries hard. He participated in many marathons, cycling races and
triathlons, until his knees decided to end his running career!

 

“Mountain
biking in the forest is my main form of exercise these days, but I must admit
that right now my job is taking preference over sport. If we want to lift the
bar and present a better race year on year, I have to put in the hours. I know
exactly how people feel who say they don’t have time for exercise, but we all
just have to make some time, as I believe it increases productivity and reduces
stress.”

 

Running the
Comrades is definitely on his bucket list, “but that will have to wait until I
have completed my duties as Comrades Race Director. Comrades is by far the
biggest single achievement any person out there can achieve. It is not limited
to top sportspeople, or the rich. It is within the reach of any person with the
ability to run.”

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