Indian Ultra Import

When Srikanth Reddy Karumuri decided to come to South Africa for work and travel, he wasn’t looking to make any major lifestyle changes. The IT specialist from India, who previously worked in London, was just interested in travelling abroad and experiencing a new country and culture. He had no clue that South Africa and its running addiction would change his life. – BY PJ MOSES

Just a few years ago Sri Karumuri weighed in at 115 kilograms and running was the last thing on his mind, but all that has changed. Nowadays you’ll see him running just about everything on the Cape running calendar, and even further afield in SA, including road runs, trail runs, even the odd obstacle race! “I didn’t know much about running until I came here, because India is not known for its long distance running, but I met some runners at work and they got me interested,” says Sri. “I was never a sporty person back home – I didn’t even play cricket – but I was a regular at the gym, because it helped me lose at least some weight.”

Then in April 2016, three years after coming to SA, he entered his first race, the Nantes 10km, on the recommendation of his work friends who ran for Brackenfell Athletic Club. He decided to err on the cautious side, opting to rather enter the 10km walk instead of the run. “I was so new to this world that I did not even know what to do with the race number they gave me, but I immediately fell in love with the vibe. Then, as I was walking along, I saw all these older people running past me with those 60 and 70 age tags. I couldn’t believe it and felt ashamed that I was walking. I decided right there that I would definitely move my lazy bum and run my next race, not walk!”

Bitten by the Running Bug
A few days after that first taste of a race experience, Sri ran the Safari Half Marathon, and with very little training he managed to finish in just over three hours. He says it was tough, but he was completely hooked now, and decided it was time to join his friends at the Brackenfell club. That, in turn, led to still more running adventures. “Everybody was talking about qualifying for the 2017 Two Oceans and Comrades at the Cape Town Marathon, so of course I said that I would do that too, not knowing how hard it would be, and how much training it would take. I started to run almost every day and joined a training group on weekends that was organised by Comrades legend Wietse van der Westhuizen. I also took advice from all the more experienced runners around me, and that made me confident that I could achieve my goal.”

When Sri sets his mind on a goal he does not let up until that goal is achieved, and he proved this by finishing his first Cape Town Marathon in less than five hours, thus also getting his qualifier in the bag. “Running for time is not that important to me, but if it is going to help me get to another race that I want to do, then I will focus and get the job done.”

Since then he has gone from strength to strength, completing the Two Oceans twice and also earning his Back2Back medals at Comrades. “I wasn’t too sure about how my first Comrades would go, even though I did the proper training and mileage. Then Hilton Murray told me that I could join the team of runners who assist the wheelchair athletes Chaeli Mycroft and Anita Engelbrecht during Comrades, and I could help by passing on water and supplements as needed. This made my first Comrades experience so much more special, and also took my mind off my own race while I focused on being part of their special journey.”

Healthier Lifestyle
Naturally, all this running has done wonders for Sri’s health and overall lifestyle, and he says he is actually free to eat whatever he feels like without any guilt. “Running has really helped with keeping the weight off, and it gave me new friends plus a healthier life. At my heaviest I was 115kg just a couple of years ago, but my new healthier and more active lifestyle sees my weight stay stable at around the 70kg mark. I know that whatever I put into my body now will be used up on a long run or in the gym, so if I want a nice breakfast, I run a 10km in the morning, and if I want a big lunch, I run a marathon! Also, now when I have some stress at work, I just put on my running shoes and go for a run. It is the best way to calm myself and put new ideas in my head.”

Sri is a vegetarian by choice, but insists that this does not mean, as many non-vegetarians think, that he can’t eat junk food, because he loves veggie pizzas followed by ice cream for dessert. “People will always complain about how hard it is to lose weight or to exercise, but you just have to put in the effort and you will see the results in time. Nobody can tell you to change, because you will not unless you decide to make those changes that your life needs.”

Chasing the Mileage
Running has become such a big part of who he is that Sri is now a well known member of the 1000km Challenge, which sees runners trying to log 1000km or more in race mileage over a year-long period from Comrades to Comrades. The runner that logs the most mileage wins the challenge overall, and there are also category awards, but for most of those involved it is not about competition against each other, but against themselves, and many run in support of a charitable cause. “I prefer doing what I love in order to assist others, and the added bonus is that the more races I run, the more time I get to spend with my running friends,” says Sri.

Looking ahead, he says he has no plans to cut back on the racing, as he is enjoying it all too much, but he does talk about it a bit less. “My Mom worries that I am running too much and that the distances are too long. She also says I spend too long in the sun, so I don’t tell her any more about the longer distances I run, and only tell her about the short ones. My goal is to run until my body says that I can run no more. I think everybody who runs is a hero, but I do look to those 60- and 70-year-olds who are still running races alongside us young people, and I hope that I can be like them one day.”

IMAGES: Jetline Action Photo, Moegsien Ebrahim, Mogamat Shahmieg Allie & courtesy Energy Events & Wildrunner Events

World’s Highest Trail Race

My wife Cindy and I took part in the amazing Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon, which included an 11-day pre-race hike up to the Advanced Base Camp, where Everest climbers start their acclimatisation ahead of their climb. Even though we’d hiked to Base Camp before, this was still an incredible running adventure. – BY HENNIE PELSER

Many people have a bucket list, but sometimes something new drops into your bucket when you least expect it. Cindy and I did the Everest Base Camp Hike in December 2016, and since then we had moved to Japan in April 2017. Then in August I read on a trail running Facebook page about a South African woman that took part in the 2016 Everest Marathon. I checked out the website, and saw it would take place on the 29th of May, and would be the 15th running of the race. It looked like fun, a marathon starting at 5364m… Hey, been there once, why not go back and run as well? A quick message with the link to my wife, asking “Are you in?”, and two minutes later we were already making plans.

Himalayan Adventure
The race was started as a tourism initiative to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first summit of Mount Everest in 1953 by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, and the race takes place at the end of spring climbing season, when most of the mountaineers have completed their summit expeditions. (In fact, the season ended on the 29th this year, same day as the race, and during our two days at Base Camp we saw the Sherpas bringing down the ladders from the Khumbu Icefall.)

However, even with the best planning, the execution sometimes fails… Winters in Japan are terrible, with wind, rain and sometimes snow being normal. Also, I had to travel for work a few times, and we had a week-long holiday to Vietnam planned a month before the event. All these combined saw us arriving in Kathmandu on the 11th of May slightly overweight and way under-trained.

On top of running the highest trail run in the world, you first have to hike for 11 days from Lukla Airport to Base Camp to start the marathon in freezing conditions on the 29th! Lukla is the most dangerous airport in the world, as there is no radar, and the pilots fly by sight, landing on a very, very small airstrip. Our flight on the 17th was delayed by four hours, and once we were airborne, we were forced to turn around at the halfway point due to zero visibility, but we eventually got through a few hours later.

Taking the High Road
The route we would hike is the normal Base Camp hiking route we did a few years ago, followed by the race itself:
Day 1: Lukla (2860m) to Phakding (2610m)
Day 2: Phakding to Namche Bazaar (3550m)
Day 3: Acclimatisation rest day at Namche Bazaar, with a short hike and 4km run back
Day 4: Namche Bazaar to Khumjung (3790m)
Day 5: Khumjung to Pangboche (4012m)
Day 6: Pangboche to Dingboche (4359m)
Day 7: Acclimatisation rest day at Dingboche, with a short hike and 3km run back
Day 8: Dingboche to Lobuche (4940m)
Day 9: Lobuche to Gorakshep (5170m)
Day 10: Acclimatisation rest day at Gorakshep, with short hike to Khalapathar (5500m)
Day 11: Khalapathar to Base Camp (5335m)
Day 12: Acclimatisation day at Base Camp
Day 13: Marathon day

The weather was mostly warm and clear in the mornings, and we could hike in short sleeves, with the afternoons becoming cloudy and cool. The biggest challenge is not the hiking, but getting to the start of the race in a condition to compete. We had a race doctor with us and had to undergo medical check-ups every few days. The biggest problem is to cope with the altitude change – I had massive headaches from when we crossed 3200m, and had to take pills daily – while not picking up a stomach bug, or catching a cold. We used hand sanitiser every few hours and took pills daily to keep our stomach flora healthy. Also, you have to drink four to five litres of water per day to help with the altitude change.

Our hiking group numbered 28, and apart from the two nights in tents at Base Camp, we slept in lodges (or teahouses, as they call them in Nepal) and had a set menu every day that varied between various forms of bread, rice, spaghetti and potatoes. Meat is generally avoided, as freshness is not guaranteed. I never want to see a potato in my life again! The highlight of the trek is the two days at Namche Bazaar, where you can find anything from pizza and a German bakery to a salon to cut your hair. Also, as you go higher, everything becomes more expensive: A litre of water in Lukla is 80 NRS (about R10), but at Gorakshep it is 400 NRS (about R50). That said, a tube of Pringles at R100 is still a bargain when you are hungry!

Once at Base Camp, we had the opportunity to sleep there two nights, a unique experience that hikers do not normally have the privilege of experiencing. We slept in tents, on a semi-level bed of rocks, on very, very thin mattresses, and even in summer the temperature at night can easily drop to -15°C – you are, after all, sleeping on a glacier, right next to the Khumbu Icefall. I remember waking up at two in the morning to answer the call of nature, and standing outside the tent it was dead quiet, with a full moon and no clouds. Those mountains make you feel really small.

Time to Try Running
This year’s race celebrated the 65th anniversary of the first summit, with just over 200 runners from 30 countries taking part, including three from South Africa. The other South African, a ‘boerseun’ from KZN called Rhyno, actually summitted Everest five years ago, and he just came to see if he would like to do it again. (We checked with the organisers, and according to their records, eight South Africans had done the full marathon before, so after this year the tally is now 11, with Cindy and I the first SA couple to do the race.)

The 60km ultra-marathon started at 6am, with the rest of us starting the marathon at 7am. The record for the marathon is a somewhat slow 3:47, because there is no running at that altitude, unless you are Nepalese. The first 10km is quite technical, so even if you could run at that altitude, it is a risk. Just 3km into the race, Cindy told me if I did not take her running pack, she would not be finishing, as the second night sleeping on the rocks had put her back into spasm. For the rest of the race, I had her pack in front and mine on my back.

After Lobuche at 10km, a nice trail drops to Thukla and then Dingboche, and running is easier terrain-wise, but you are still just below 5000m, so your legs and lungs are not really on your side. However, the direct route from start to finish is only 37km, so to make up the 42.2km distance, you do a 5km out-and-back loop from Dingboche to Bibre, which takes you through the halfway mark. We had easily hiked and run this portion on our rest day a few days earlier – now it was into a serious headwind and no fun at all!

From Dingboche you drop further to Pangboche, and by now the altitude was below 4000m and we could run. There is actually an eight-hour cut-off at Thyangboche Monastery at 32km, which is preceded by three major climbs, and if you don’t make it, they advise you to sleep in the lodge and continue the next day. We made it in 7:30 and had only 10km left, but nothing here is easy… It took us almost four hours to get from there to the finish! After Thyangboche, you have to navigate a long and technical descent, then there are two extremely steep climbs, and in the last 3km there are three smaller climbs. There was no running here, just walking and resting, and telling each other what a bad idea this was.

Anything for a Shower!
We eventually rolled into Namche Bazaar in a time of 11:32, a long time to be on your feet, but at least we just missed the rain that started to fall a few minutes after our sprint finish to the line. Spare a thought for one of our friends who did the ultra in a gorilla suit to raise funds for the gorillas of Africa, finishing in 19 hours, at 1am in the morning. Raemonde, you are one crazy lady! Having finished, all we wanted was a shower and some food. (For the record, this would be just our third shower since we left Namche Bazaar nine days earlier.)

The next day we would have started the hike back, but we got word that there were more than a thousand people in Lukla waiting for flights out, so we were given the option to rest a day and then fly directly out to Kathmandu a day later with helicopters, as the conditions at Lukla did not seem to be getting better. Of course, we had to pay for the helicopter flight, but what the hell, how often in your life would you get the opportunity to chopper out of the Himalayas? Swipe the card, sir, we’ll deal with this once we get home.

PS: During our hike up the second-last climb on race day, Cindy and I promised ourselves no more stupid races for the next few years. However, Mongolia does sound interesting…

Editor’s Note
There are two marathons run on the slopes of Everest. The Everest Marathon (first run 1987, now known as the Original Everest Marathon, starts at Gorakshep at 5212m, the site of the 1953 Everest expedition base camp, and finishes in Namche Bazaar. The Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon (first run 2003, starts at the current Everest Base Camp (5364m) and finishes in Namche Bazaar. Therefore, while the Original Everest Marathon is known as the world’s highest marathon, the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon is actually slightly higher.

IMAGES: Courtesy Cindy Pelser

Cheers for the Beers!

Few things beat a nice cold beer after a hard run, but after the last sip, you may feel like you’ve taken a couple of steps backwards after all that hard work. Relax, because there is no reason to feel guilty for having a pint or two. – BY CHRISTINE PETERS, REGISTERED DIETICIAN

Let’s try a new approach: Instead of completely ruling beer out as detrimental to our performance, let’s see how we can make it part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle, so let’s start by learning more about beer. One small (330ml) bottle of beer containing 5% alcohol is equivalent to 1.6 units of alcohol, and contains 142 calories, which is equivalent to two slices of bread or half a burger. It would take the average 68kg man around 14 minutes of fast running to burn this off.

With seven calories per gram, alcohol has almost the same calorie content as fat. Alcohol has no nutritional value, and despite the calorie content, may make you feel hungry, as it lowers your blood sugar. Some people think beer is a good source of nutrients for post-exercise recovery, but if you compare it to a glass of orange juice, beer unfortunately does not even come close. A glass of OJ supplies four times the amount of potassium and almost three times the amount of carbs. It would take 11 beers to obtain the B-vitamins you need on a daily basis.

It’s about timing, too. Training or competing after drinking is never recommended, as dehydration can lead to reduced athletic performance, and while alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it makes your kidneys produce more urine, exercising straight after drinking can make dehydration worse because you sweat as your body temperature rises. You need to stay hydrated when you exercise to maintain a flow of blood through your body, which is essential for circulating oxygen and nutrients to your muscles.

Alcohol can also make you more prone to injury in a variety of ways, such as altering your sleep cycles, which reduces your body’s ability to store glycogen. Alcohol also increases the level of the stress hormone cortisol, which slows down healing. Furthermore, drinking has an enormous impact on muscle protein synthesis, the process where muscles generate new proteins, which are necessary for skeletal muscles to benefit from training by recovery, growing and adapting. Alcohol can reduce muscle protein synthesis by a third, leaving you unable to improve and build strength.

Beer Benefits
But it’s not all bad news! Moderate beer drinking as part of a healthy lifestyle, may be linked to lower risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney stones, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, and can also boost your immune system and help fight infection. Moderate intake is loosely defined as no more than three standard drinks per day for a man and two for a woman. So when it comes to the benefits of drinking beer, it really comes down to the amount consumed: If you’re eating healthily and exercising, don’t worry about one or two beers. Just keep your consumption moderate, and look at your beer-drinking as a training tool.

Factoid: Being Beer Sensible
Pre-event: Avoid alcohol beyond low-volume social drinking for 48 hours.
Post-event: Rehydrate first and consume food to retard any alcohol absorption.

IMAGE: Fotolia

Mandela Remembrance Walk and Run: Top Sporting Stars Line up to Take Part in This Special Event

To those who have left it late to register for this year’s Mandela Remembrance Walk and Run in Tshwane this Sunday 9 December, there’s good news in that late registrations will still be accepted at race collection points this week.

Participants can still register for the event on Thursday 6 December at the Nelson Mandela Foundation at 107 Central Avenue, Houghton, and on Friday and Saturday 7 and 8 December at the Union Buildings in Tshwane between 9am and 7pm.

Online entries for the event, which sees the introduction for the first time this year of a 21 kilometre Half Marathon, in addition to the 5 kilometre walk and 10 kilometre run of previous editions, will remain open at until midmight on Friday 7 December.

Some of South Africa’s top sports personalities have confirmed their participation in this year’s Mandela Remembrance Walk and Run on Sunday, which will be a special family event that will bring to an end Madiba’s Centenary Year celebrations for the year.

Bafana Bafana legends Shaun Bartlett, Doctor Khumalo and Aaron Mokoena are taking part, as is wheelchair tennis sensation Kgothatso Montjane and elite athletes such as 2016 Comrades winner Charne Bosman, who has been joined this week in the race by another former Comrades winner in the popular Ludwick Mamabolo.

Olympian Christine Kalmer, former SA marathon champ Benedict Moeng and former World Student Games half-marathon silver medalist Collen Mulaudzi will also be participating.

They are just some of the exciting big names who will join a throng of thousands of people expected to participate in this very special event which will also honour revered political activists and stalwarts Albertina Sisulu and Margaret Gaso.

Hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, together with the Gauteng Province, this year’s 10 and 21 km events will begin and end at the magnificent Union Buildings and will be a fun day out for the whole family. The 5km walk will begin at the Kgosi Mampuru Prison and end at the Union Buildings.

“This year’s Mandela Centenary Celebrations have been simply spectacular, reaching a crescendo with the Global Citizen festival this past weekend. The Mandela Remembrance Walk and Run is the perfect ending to a memorable year and is a family event that is open to all. We encourage South Africans to join us on Sunday for what will be a very special occasion at the Union Buildings,” said Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO Sello Hatang.

The 21km has proved to be a popular addition to this year’s event, with over half the entries received thus far signing up for the half marathon route, as the Mandela Remembrance Walk and Run becomes a popular event on the South African road running calendar.

Entry fee is R50 for the 5km walk, R100 for the 10km Run and R150 for the 21km run, which will have nominal winners prize money of R5 000 for the elite runners in each age and gender category taking on the 10kms and  half marathon route. All participants will receive drawstring bags from Lotto containing a Lotto shirt, cap and some more event goodies.

There will be loads of entertainment for the kids and child minders will be available to look after them. There will also be food stalls and fitness displays at the event.

The start times for the 21 km and the 10km race is 7am at the Union Buildings, and the 5 km walk which starts at the Kgosi Mampuru Prison is 9am. There will be a wreath laying ceremony in honour of the former President taking place at 8.15am.

The event’s Parking/Park & Ride Plan is as follows:

  • Park & Ride – Pilditch Stadium
  • Park & Walk – Pretoria Art Museum
  • Parking – On the streets in the vicinity of the Union Buildings where the streets are not closed off.

For more event details and to register for the event go to

• FB – MandelaRW

• Twitter – mandelarw

• IG – Mandelawalk

Race Calendar – December 2018

South African runners really are blessed with a terrific race calendar, with so many great races to do, so check out these events for the coming month, including road and trail runs as well as other running disciplines, and make your racing plans! – BY TOM COTTRELL AND SEAN FALCONER


Sunday 2 December
World Aids Day Half Marathon, 10km & 5km
, Katlehong Sports Complex, Lesotho Street, 7am, Arnold Ravhutulu 079 135 4566
The Campus Run Series 8km & 5km – Campus Catchup, The Campus, Sloane Street, Bryanston, 8am,
Wednesday 5 December
Kinetic Christmas Night Trail 8km & 4km
, Randpark, 6pm, Heidi Muller 082 564 6468
Thursday 6 December
Decathlon Killarney Country Club Night Run 8km & 5km
, Killarney Country Club, 60 Fifth Street, Lower Houghton, 7pm,
Friday 7 December
TrailAdventure Serengeti Night Trail 15km, 10km & 5km
, Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate, Benoni, 7pm, Shane Gouldie 082 332 9552
Saturday 8 December
Group 1 Nissan Over the Moon Trail Run 10km & 5km
, Rietvlei Zoo Farm, 101 Swartkoppies Road, Mulbarton, Johannesburg South, 7pm, Leigh Barnsley 060 874 1039
Sunday 9 December
Orlando Half Marathon, 10km & 5km
, Orlando Rugby Ground, Soweto, 6am, Sibongile Maruto 078 445 0249
Zoo Trot 10km & 5km, Centenary Lawn, Johannesburg Zoo, Upper Park Drive, Parkview, 7:30am, Lebogang Mathope
011 712 6817 (w)
Sunday 16 December
Gauteng Striders Reconciliation Day 10km & 5km
, Vosloorus Stadium, Moagi Road, 7am, Boyce Joko 071 682 1775
Wobblers and Wigglers Hat Race 7.8km Fun Run, Pirates Club, Braeside Road, Greenside, 8am, Hennie Booysen 082 801 0924

Sunday 2 December
KeyHealth Smuts Summer Trail Series #3 21km, 15km, 10km & 5km – December
, Smuts, Irene River, Jan Smuts Avenue, Irene, 7am, Shane Gouldie 082 332 9552
Wednesday 5 December
Christmas Elves Night Trail 10km & 5km
, Copperleaf Country Club, Ernie Els Boulevard, Centurion, 7pm, Glizelle Langerman 083 264 3931
Saturday 8 December
Skosana 10km, 5km & 1 mile
, Pretoria Correctional Services, Kgosi Mampuru Street, 6:30am (10 & 5) & 8:30am (mile), Enoch Skosana 082 825 8001
Bark Run 10km, 5km & 2km with dogs, Tierpoort Adventure Farm, Rooikat Street, Pretoria East, 7am, Glizelle Langerman 083 264 3931
Sunday 9 December
TrailAdventure Tiger Trail Run 21km, 15km, 10km & 5km
, Tierpoort Adventure Farm, Rooikat Street, Pretoria East, 7am, Shane Gouldie 082 332 9552
The Great Train Race 10km, Rayton to Cullinan, 7:30am, Shane Gouldie 082 332 9552
Wednesday 12 December
Rietvlei Night Run 10km & 5km
, Rietvlei Dam, Pretoria, 7pm, Shane Gouldie 082 332 9552
Zwartkop Night Race #2 10km & 5km, Zwartkops Country Club, Old Johannesburg Road, Centurion, 6pm,
Saturday 15 December
TrailAdventure Run 15km, 10km, 5km & 2km
, The Big Red Barn, 7 Nelson Road, Olifantsfontein, 7am, Shane Gouldie
082 332 9552
Christmas Bark Run 10km, 5km & 2km with dogs, The Big Red Barn, 7 Nelson Road, Olifantsfontein, 7am, Glizelle Langerman 083 264 3931
Sunday 16 December
Hazeldean Farm Run 30km, 15km, 10km & 5km
, Cowhouse Market, cnr Ridge Road and Oukraal Boulevard, Hazeldean, Pretoria East, 6:45am, 7:15am, 7:30am & 7:45am, Albie 082 453 0096
TrailAdventure Barn Trail Series 21km, 15km, 10km, & 5km, The Big Red Barn, 7 Nelson Road, Olifantsfontein, 7am, Shane Gouldie 082 332 9552
Friday 21 December
GoSport Night Trail Run 15km, 10km & 5km
, Cowhouse Market, cnr Ridge Road and Oukraal Boulevard, Hazeldean, Pretoria East, 6pm, 6:05pm & 6:10pm, Albie 082 453 0096
Monday 31 December
Cid to Cid Old Year’s 10km & 5km
, Rietondale Park, Arcadia. Pretoria, 5pm, James Matshekga 082 566 1595

Sunday 9 December

Sharpeville Constitution Signing 27km & 5km, George Thabe Stadium, Sharpeville, Vereeniging, 6am, Norman Dlomo 072 295 4175
Monday 31 December
Nedbank Ou Jaar’s Party 10km, 8km, 6km, 4km & 2km
, Kollegepark Primary School, cnr Theo Wassenaar & Generaal Froneman, Vanderbijlpark, 6:30pm, Dawid Jordaan 082 364 1954


Friday 30 November
Spier Twilight Trail Run 10km, 5km & 3km
, Spier Wine Farm, on R310 Baden Powell Drive near Stellenbosch, 6:30pm, 6:40pm & 6:42pm, Uge Nel 082 658 3078
Saturday 1 December
Run the Vines Landskroon Trail Run 17km, 10km & 5km
, Landskroon Wines, Suid-Agter Paarl Road, near Paarl, 7:30am, 8am & 8:15am, Lans Pepler 082 787 2472
Sunday 2 December
Festive Family Fun Run 10km, 5km & 3km
, Blaauwklippen Wine Estate, on R44, Stellenbosch, 7:30, 8am & 8:30am,
Run 4 a Cause 10km & 5km, Middelvlei Wine Estate, Papagaai Street, Stellenbosch, 7:45am, Race Organiser 082 334 3771
Spier Trail Run 10km, 5km & 3km, Spier Wine Farm, on R310 Baden Powell Drive near Stellenbosch, 8am, 8:10am & 8:12am, Ugene Nel 082 658 3078
Fittest on the Farm Trail Run 10km, 5km & 3km, Welbedacht Wine Estate, Oakdene Road, Wellington, 8am & 8:15am, Lans Pepler 082 787 2472
Anna Basson Properties Trail Run 10km & 5km, Mont Marie Wine Estate, Mont Marie Road, off Blaauwklippen Road, Stellenbosch, 7:30am & 7:45am,
Saturday 8 December
United Bulk Prison-to-Prison Marathon, Half Marathon & 5km
, Brandvlei Correctional Services, Brandvlei Dam, between Rawsonville & Worcester, 5:30am, Derrick Losper 073 925 4939
Race2Nowhere 10km Trail Run, McGregor Winery, Main Road, McGregor, 8am,
Sunday 9 December
Trilogy Trail Run 15km, 10km & 5km
, Warwick Wine Estate, on R44 between Stellenbosch and Klapmuts, 7:30am, 7:45am & 8am, Dirtopia Events 021 884 4752 (w)
Wednesday 12 December
Afrikaans Op ‘n Drafstap Taalmonument Night 10km & 5km
, Taalmonument, Gabbema Doordrift Street, Paarl, 6:30pm, Race Organiser 083 770 5170
Friday 14 December
Spier Twilight Trail Run 10km & 5km
, Spier Wine Farm, on R310 Baden Powell Drive, near Stellenbosch, 6:30pm, Ugene Nel 082 658 3078
Friday 21 December
Cape Agulhas Classic Trail Run 25km, 15km & 7km
, Sami Hall, Bredasdorp, 4pm, SMF Events 028 423 3188
Saturday 22 December
Onrus 10km & 6km
, Milkwood Restaurant, Ornus River Beach, 7am, Carina van der Merwe 082 823 8632
Friday 28 December
Strandveld Trail Run 16km & 8km
, Strandveld Vineyards, on R317 near Elim/Bredasdorp, 7am, Jackie 028 482 1902
Monday 31 December
Danger Point Half Marathon, 10km & 5km
, Gansbaai Primary School, Main Street, Gansbaai, 7am, Boats van Staden 072 789 3627

Saturday 1 December
Ernst Louw 10km & 5km, Hartenbos Drawwers Club House, Diaz Beach, Mossel Bay, 7am, Wouter Pretorius 083 309 9971
Wednesday 5 December
Love Life 10km & 3km, Blue Olive Restaurant, George Road, Wilderness, 6pm, Gerrit du Toit 072 282 7995
Saturday 8 December
Palm Tyres Half Marathon, 10km & 5km, Palm Tyres, Courtenay Street, George, 6am & 7:30am, Deon de Jager 083 453 4781
Wednesday 12 December
Steeple to Steeple 10km & 5km, Dutch Reformed Church, Courtenay Street, George, 8am & 8:10am, Deon de Jager 083 453 4781
Saturday 15 December
Somerson Half Marathon, 10km & 5km, Diaz Beach, Mossel Bay, 6am, Paulus Allart 073 412 5440
Knysna Nite Race 10km & 5km, Knysna Marathon Club, Loerie Park Sports Complex, George Rex Drive, Knysna, 6pm, Gavin Bezuidenhout 083 502 7935
Tuesday 18 December
Mossel Bay Nite Race 10km & 4km, Correctional Services, Mossel Bay, 6pm, Paulus Allart 073 412 5440
Saturday 15 December
Great Brak Total Fremersheim 15km, 10km & 4.5km Trail Run, Friemersheim Sports Ground, Great Brak River, 7am, Pierre van Schalkwyk 082 771 5562
Friday 21 December
Wreck Challenge 10km, 5.6km & 2.35km, Glentana Main Beach, 7am, Janine Swart 083 662 2022
Saturday 22 December
Carne’s Full Moon Beach Run 21km & 6km, Swartvlei Beach (21) & Kleinkrantz (6) to Wilderness NSRI Office, 7:30pm (21) & 7:50pm (6), Chain Gang Events 071 678 7147
Sunday 23 December
Groeneweide Trail Run 12.2km & 7km, NMMU Campus, Saasveld, George, 8am, Janine Swart 083 662 2022
Wednesday 26 December
Coreen Fourie Eco-Adventure Cancer 5km Walk, Bat Cave, St Blaize, 7am, Pierre van Schalkwyk 082 771 5562
Thursday 27 December
Sabrina Love 10km Road & Beach Run, Longstone Park, Central Beach, Plettenberg Bay, 6:30am, Magnetic South Events 044 382 2932 (w)
Friday 28 December
Sabrina Love 10km & 6km Trail Run, Kurland Polo Estate, The Crags, near Plettenberg Bay, 7am & 7:30am, Magnetic South Events 044 382 2932 (w)
Monday 31 December
Oujaarsdraffie 10km & 4km, Hartenbos Amphitheatre, 10km from Mossel Bay, 6am, Johan Viljoen 082 940 8830

Saturday 1 December
Ultra-Trail Cape Town 100km, 65km & 35km
, Gardens Tech Rugby Club, Upper Orange Street & Montreal Avenue, Oranjezicht, Cape Town, 4am, 5am & 7am, Stuart McConnachie 079 741 7626
Sunday 2 December
Phoenix Athletic Club 10km & 5km Challenge, CPUT Campus, Symphony Way, Bellville, 7am & 8am, Lionel Samuels
081 318 9310
Ultra-Trail Cape Town 21km, Gardens Tech Rugby Club, Upper Orange Street & Montreal Avenue, Oranjezicht, Cape Town, 8am, Stuart McConnachie 079 741 7626
Wednesday 5 December
Metropolitan 10km CANCELLED
Saturday 8 December
Avbob 15km, Pick n Pay Shopping Centre, cnr Blaauwberg & Otto du Plessis Roads, Table View, 6am, Leon Thelander 083 999 6450 (after 5pm)
Sunday 9 December
Bottelary Farm Run 21km, 10km & 5km CANCELLED
Saturday 15 December
Velocity Half Marathon & 10km PLUS 10km Walk, Silverstroomstrand, 6am & 6:15am PLUS 6:35am, Mario Philander 072 254 1880
Sunday 16 December
RCS Gugulethu Reconciliation Day 10km & 4.2km, NY49 Stadium, Gugulethu, 7am & 7:10am, Themba Shoko 082 476 4656
Wednesday 19 December
Growthpoint Properties Sundowner 10km, V&A Waterfront, outside Table Bay Hotel, Cape Town, 6pm, William Swartbooi 084 247 7170
Wednesday 26 December
Tokai Manor House 16km, Chrysalis Academy, Firgrove Way, Tokai, 6:30am, Paul Murphy 082 878 1987
Monday 31 December
Runners’ Memorial 8km, Mouille Point Lighthouse, Green Point, Cape Town, 6pm, Liam Hendrickse 072 392 7558

Thursday 29 November
Snapper Run the Gardens Twilight Run 7.5km, 5km & 2.5km
, Durban Botanic Gardens, John Zikhali Road, 6pm, Dave Ward 082 492 1995
Sunday 2 December
Bearing Man Stainbank Cup 15km Run PLUS 10km Walk
, Yellow Wood Park Sports Club, 1 Swallow Road, Durban, 6am, Fred Schoon 083 384 4053
Stihl Sharks Trail Adventure 18km & 9km, Summerveld Estate, Summerhill Avenue, Shongweni, 6:30am & 6:40am, Stu Berry 083 456 8435
Summer Series #3 Hilton College Trail Run 20km, 12km & 6km, Hilton College, Hilton College Road, north of Pietermaritzburg, 7am (20) & 7:30am (12 & 7), KZN Trail Running 082 791 7069
Saturday 8 December
WESSA Christmas Evening Trail Run 12km & 5km PLUS 1km Santa Dash
, WESSA, Umgeni Valley, 6pm (12 & 5) & 6:10pm (Dash), KZN Trail Running 082 791 7069
Sunday 9 December
Illovo Sugar 15km Christmas Challenge
, Westvillle Athletic Club, 123 Maryvale Road, (opposite the Westville Prison) 6am, Sharon Schubach 082 414 1783
Saturday 16 December
Umdoni Forest Trail Run 12km & 7km
, Umdoni Golf Club, Minerva Avenue, Pennington, South Coast, 6:45am & 7am,
Sunday 17 December
Seeff Big Hill Half Marathon, 10km &
5km, Sugar Bush Park, Ballito, 6am, Nikola Ramsden 084 555 0001
Umdoni Forest Trail Run 12km & 6km, Umdoni Golf Club, 1 Don Knight Avenue, 6:30am & 6:45am, Rickey Hulley 083 324 0290
Friday 21 December
Rocky Bay Trail Run 15km, 10km & 5km
, Rocky Bay Resort, Old Main Road, Park Rynie, South Coast, 6am, Shane Gouldie 082 332 9552
Friday 28 December
Rocky Bay Trail Run 15km, 10km & 5km
, Rocky Bay Resort, Old Main Road, Park Rynie, South Coast, 7pm, Shane Gouldie 082 332 9552

Friday 7 December

Standard Bank Trailrun Series – Volksblad Night Market Botanical Gardens 8km, 4km & 1km
, Botanical Garden, Bloemendal Road, Bloemfontein, 6pm, Nelio De Sa 082 777 6770


Saturday 8 December
Kempston Hogsback Trail Run 21km, 10km & 3km
, Hogsback Inn Hotel, on R345, Hogsback, 8:30am, Sharon Eldridge 083 284 3781
Thursday 14 December
Sunset Trail Series #1 5km
, Areena Riverside Resort, East Coast Resorts Road, Kwelera, East London, 6:30pm,
Thursday 21 December
Sunset Trail Series #2 5km
, Tea In The Trees, Chintsa West, Lusizini, Chintsa, 6:30pm,
Thursday 28 December
Sunset Trail Series #3 5km
, Olive Wood Estate & Golf Club, Chafli Road, East London, 6:30pm,

Saturday 1 December
Aspen Pharmacare PE City Marathon & 10km
, Lorraine NG Kerk, 7 Marne Avenue, Lorraine, Port Elizabeth, 5am, Shaun Roberts 082 711 1341
Saturday 8 December
Baywest Mall 10km & 5km
, Baywest Mall, N2 west in Port Elizabeth, 6am, Eusentha Pillay 084 665 0910
Weekend Warrior 2-day Trail Run, (13km, 8km & 5km each day), Woodridge College and Preparatory School, near Port Elizabeth, Sat: 2pm & Sun: 8:30am, Red Cherry Events 041 581 5335
Sunday 9 December
The Colour Run 5km PE
, Port Elizabeth, 10am, Zsports 041 484 7860 (w)
Friday 14 December
The Pecan Trails 3km Ghost Night Run
, Sanctuary Farm, on Grassridge Dam Road, Off R390, approximately 15km north-west of Cradock, Time TBC, Race Organiser 082 821 3254
Saturday 15 December
Drommedaris Furnishers 10km & 5km
, Drommedaris Furniture Store, Drommedaris Street, Jeffreys Bay, 7am, Elize Fenwick 061 217 0825
The Pecan Trails 25km, 15km & 5km, Sanctuary Farm, on Grassridge Dam Road, Off R390, approximately 15km north-west of Cradock, Time TBC, Race Organiser 082 821 3254


Saturday 8 December
Shikwaru Trail Run 25km & 12km
, Shikwaru Lodge, Farm Geluk 285, Sterk Rivier Road, Mokopane, 6am, Race Organiser 015 491 1174 (w)
Saturday 15 December
December Summer Dash 20km, 10km & 5km
, Franklyn Park, Kampersrus, Hoedspruit, 7am, 7:30am & 7:45am, Franklyn Park 015 795 5961 (w)

Saturday 1 December
DCRS Cultural Festival Run Half Marathon, 10km & 5km
, Bergvlam High School, Geelhout Avenue, Nelspruit, 6am, Yolanda Steenkamp 084-6076314
Buffalo Gorge Trail Series 18km, 10km, 6.5km & 2.5km, Buffalo Gorge Eco Adventure Centre, Buffelskloof Farm, Middelburg, 7:30am, Ryk Diepraam 083 528 9586


No races scheduled for this period

Sunday 9 December
Bugs Bunny Trail Run 25km, 12km & 6km
, Piesangskloof 4×4 Trails, off R104 near Modderspruit, 7am, 7:30am & 8am,


Saturday 8 December
Battle for Magersfontein 25km & 10km
, Magersfontein Battlefield Gate to Magersfontein Museum, near Kimberley, 6am, David Janse van Vuuren 083 443 8198

No races scheduled in this period


Saturday 22 December
Standard Bank Beach Rush 10km & 5km
, B2 at the Guano Island, 5km north of Walvis Bay, 9am & 9:30am, CD Rautenbach 081 615 6718

Saturday 1 December
Polokwane Rogaine
, Lebowakgomo, Limpopo, Time TBC, POC: Club Administrator 073 462 6114
Sunday 2 December
Gauteng Short Event (Novelty)
, Johannesburg, Gauteng, Time TBC, WITSOC: More info at
Sunday 9 December
ROC 21st Annual Sprint Cup
, Kloofendal Nature Reserve, cnr Veronica Street & Galena Avenue, Johannesburg, Starts from 8:30am to 9:15am, ROC: Nicholas Mulder 082 898 7871

Saturday 1 December
Muddy Princess Stellenbosch 5km
, Sandringham Farm, Sandringham Road, off R304 between Stellenbosch and N1, Western Cape, 8am,
Gajiga Run 5km Bounce Joburg Zoo, Joburg Zoo, Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkview, Johannesburg, Gauteng, 5pm,
Runstacles 10km & 4km, Cape Town Ostrich Ranch, Van Schoorsdrif Road, off N7, Philadelphia, Western Cape, 8:30am, The Grind HQ 021 813 9282 (w)
Saturday 8 December
Runstacles 10km & 4km
, Cape Town Ostrich Ranch, Van Schoorsdrif Road, off N7, Philadelphia, Western Cape, 8:30am, The Grind HQ 021 813 9282 (w)
Saturday 15 December
Runstacles 10km & 4km
, Cape Town Ostrich Ranch, Van Schoorsdrif Road, off N7, Philadelphia, Western Cape, 8:30am, The Grind HQ 021 813 9282 (w)
Sunday 16 December
The Pecan Trails 10km & 5km OCR
, Sanctuary Farm, on Grassridge Dam Road, Off R390, approximately 15km north-west of Cradock, Eastern Cape, Time TBC, Race Organiser 082 821 3254

Saturday 1 December
North West Triathlon & Duathlon League
, Tri: 1.5km/40km/10km, 750m/20km/5km & 400m/10km/2.5km, Du: 10km/40km/5km, 5km/20km/2.5km & 2.5km/10km/1.25km, Vaal River Boat Club, Orkney, North West Province, 8am, Yolanda 082 787 5496
Sunday 2 December
MiWayLife Joburg Ultra & SA Long Distance Champs
, Ultra 1.9km/90km/21km & Sprint 600m/20km/5km, Cradle Moon Resort, Beyers Naude Drive, Muldersdrift, Time TBC, Race Office 072 083 6448
FNB Sandman Triathlon, Ultra 1.9km/90km/21.1km, Standard 1km/40km/10km, Sprint 400m/20km/4km & Mini 150m/7km/3km, The Mole, Swakopmund, Namibia, 7am, 8am, 8:30am & 8:45am, Yvonne +264 (0)81 142 9966
Saturday 15 December
Lomond Triathlon
, Off-road Tri, Full: 1.2km/30km/12km & Sprint: 400m/15km/6km, Lomond Winery, Gansbaai, 8am & 9am, Contact details TBC
Sunday 16 December
Triathlon Summer Series #
1, Tri: Sprint 750m/20km/5km & Super-sprint 400m/10km/2.5km, Du: Sprint 2.5km/20km/5km & Super-sprint 1.25km/10km/2.5km, Pollok Beach, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Province, 8:15am & 8:30am, Zsports 041 484 7860 (w)
Wednesday 19 December
Triathlon Summer Series #2
, Tri: Sprint 750m/20km/5km & Super-sprint 400m/10km/2.5km, Du: Sprint 2.5km/20km/5km & Super-sprint 1.25km/10km/2.5km, Pollok Beach, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Province, 8:15am & 8:30am, Zsports 041 484 7860 (w)
Sunday 23 December
Triathlon Summer Series #3
, Tri: Sprint 750m/20km/5km & Super-sprint 400m/10km/2.5km, Du: Sprint 2.5km/20km/5km & Super-sprint 1.25km/10km/2.5km, Pollok Beach, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Province, 8:15am & 8:30am, Zsports 041 484 7860 (w)
Wednesday 26 December
Triathlon Summer Series #4
, Tri: Sprint 750m/20km/5km, Du: Sprint 2.5km/20km/5km, St Francis Bay, Eastern Province, 8:30am, Zsports 041 484 7860 (w)

Sunday 3 December

Kinetic Adventure 25km
, Various legs totalling 16-19km MTB/5-6km run/1km paddle, teams of 2, Riversands Farm Village, Roase Road, Knopjeslaagte, Midrand, Gauteng, Time TBC, Heidi Muller 082 564 6468

The Legend of Zoo Lake

If legendary athlete Hendrick Ramaala’s hard work as a coach and mentor pays off, South African middle and long distance athletes will someday be able to challenge the North African athletes that currently dominate the world stage, but his athletes are going to have to do a lot of laps around Zoo Lake to get there! – BY MANFRED SEIDLER

Swing past Zoo Lake in Saxonworld, Johannesburg each morning and you will see a group of sleek, lean, fit-looking athletes quietly going about doing their training run laps around the Lake. Very little, if any, banter is heard. This is a time to focus, as training is a vital cog in the wheel of the business of running and racing, and these athletes therefore take it very seriously.

When they gather in the early morning and get ready for training, they are usually still sleepy and sluggish, but as the laps progress and the bodies warm up, so too does the speed and fluidity of the group change. By the end of the training session, if you have stayed and watched in awe, you will have witnessed the next generation of racing machines in South Africa.

A closer look, however, makes you realise just how much running pedigree is in this training group. Amongst them is 2:09:31 winner of the 2018 Beppu-Oita Marathon in Japan and two-time World Champs marathoner, Desmond Mokgobu, as well as double 2018 SA 10km and Cross Country Champion, Precious Mashele. You will also notice the still fit and imperious looking SA running legend, Hendrick Ramaala churning out the laps, leading a group of younger middle and long distance athletes who are looking to forge their careers in the sport with success on the international circuit. Just as Hendrick did… from this very venue.

When talking road running legends of South Africa with people who know the sport, various names will always be bandied about, but one name that always comes up is that of Hendrick Ramaala. With eight sub-2:10 marathons to his name, two sub-60 half marathons, a New York Marathon title and a runner-up placing in the Big Apple, six finishes in the top 10 of the London Marathon (three of which were third place finishes) and a best marathon time of 2:06:55 (beaten only by Gert Thys' SA record of 2:06.33), Hendrick is rightfully considered one of the all-time best athletes in SA road running. In the latter years of his career he also tried ultra-marathoning, posting a second-place finish in the 2014 Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon.

He first came to prominence in the athletics scene of the mid-90’s, when he carved out a name for himself as a fierce competitor in both cross country and middle distance track competition. He famously said, after representing South Africa in the 10,000m at the 1997 World Championships, that wearing the South Africa vest was a huge honour. “When you run in the South African colours, there is no pain. You feel no pain.”

When Hendrick started out in athletics, he could be found virtually every morning and evening running around Zoo Lake, churning out lap after lap after lap like a metronome. Whether it was a long run or a speed session, he trained around the Lake. “It is perfect. Soft underfoot, safe, you do not need to worry about cars, and it is at altitude. It worked perfectly for me. I tried to do training camps in other parts of the world, but I always came back here. It just worked for me.”

“Worked” is an understatement, really. It was here that Hendrick laid the foundation for his 10,000m SA Record of 27:29.94, run in 1999 in Port Elizabeth. It was here that he prepared to take on the world’s best at the World Cross Country Champs and the World Half Marathon Champs, and it was here where he forged the steel required to race with the big guns of world marathon running. Twice Hendrick finished runner-up to the legendary Paul Tergat of Kenya at the World Half Marathon Championships (1998, 1999), and in both cases he led South Africa to the team gold medal. And now it is here, at Zoo Lake, that Hendrick is hoping to prepare the next generation of athletes to represent South Africa on the global stage. “This is the ideal place to train. I learnt a lot here in my career, and it is time to now take that knowledge and share it with anyone who wants to run,” says Hendrick.

In 2015, Hendrick Ramaala and Nick Bester decided to team up and try help South Africa’s Marathon hopefuls for the Rio Olympics, and a squad of around 10 athletes was assembled to train together and prepare to try qualify. From there came a longer-term dream. “Why not become a middle distance and long distance training centre and help grow South African road running and middle distance running? We have so much talent in South Africa. I want to help find this talent and develop and grow it. We should be challenging for world medals, but somewhere we lost our way. I hope to build a centre around Zoo Lake, where we train and nurture and grow runners who can make an impact on the world.”

By “build a centre,” Hendrick is not referring to physically erecting buildings to house athletes at Zoo Lake, but rather to build the capabilities of the runners. Of course he would like to have facilities where they can live, but it is mainly about the training as a group, targeting and preparing for races with a focus on the international circuit. “That is where it happens, where the money is, and where the best in the world race. And if we want to be up there with the best, we need to race against them.”

From the original training group that he started with in 2015 – and not all in group were training for the marathon – only Precious and Desmond are still with him, with the others choosing to go their own way, but Hendrick is philosophical about that. “You cannot force athletes. They must want to. I will train anyone who is willing, keen and hungry. But I train hard, so if you come train with me, you need to understand that. And that training is not for everyone.”

Both Precious and Desmond have benefited from Hendrick’s training and hard work ethic, and over a three-year period of training under him, Desmond has improved from a 2:15 marathoner to a sub-2:10 runner. At 29 years of age, he is just hitting his stride in the marathon, and that 2:09 he ran in Japan in February is a breakthrough for him, as it means he will now be of interest to international marathons with his IAAF Silver Label status. “That is what we need to be working towards and looking at,” says Ramaala. “It takes time, but the journey is worth it. Desmond has broken 2:10, a big psychological barrier, so from here it will be easier to get to 2:08 or better.”

Unsurprisingly, the athletes have been asked whether running repeats of the same loop becomes boring, but Desmond says it has actually made him a better runner, and mentally stronger. “Training here on the same circuit day in and day out teaches you to focus. It was hard in the beginning, but I have learned not to be distracted by anything and that has helped in my racing.”

After training, the group gathers to do some stretching and strength work before going to rest. And tomorrow they will be back, running around Zoo Lake, repeating the process, until the next race and the next step to becoming world class athletes. Hendrick hopes that the success his stars have already achieved will attract still more talented runners to Zoo Lake, and hopefully in the years to come, this will lay the foundation of a group of athletes who can hold their own with the Kenyans, Ugandans and Ethiopians on the world stage. The opportunities are there, the athletes just need to take them.

IMAGES: Jetline Action Photo, Manfred Seidler & courtesy Hendrick Ramaala

For His Family

In July this year, 28-year-old Precious Mashele, received a phone call from his mom to let him know he was now the head of the family, and would need to provide for his siblings from now on. She was saying goodbye… because shortly after that call, she passed away, and Precious was left to fend for his brothers and sisters, who are still at school. Despite the emotional loss, Precious has been able to mourn in his own way, and “get on with the business” of fending for his family, by winning national titles in road running and cross country. – BY MANFRED SEIDLER

Precious Mashele shows little emotion when speaking about his mother, but it is clear her passing has been a big blow. “It hurt, but I just had to get on with it. I need to look after my brothers and sisters, they need me now, so I need to be strong. Of course I miss her, but my siblings need all my support now.” In spite of losing her (his dad passed away in 2008), Precious still considers 2018 a good year from a performance perspective. “I cannot complain. The last few months have been hard racing, but good racing. We are following a plan, and it is all falling into place for 2019 and 2020. So I cannot complain.”

To call the last few months merely “good racing” is perhaps the understatement of the year! He won five high profile events and two national titles from late August to mid-October, with the streak starting on 26 August as he defended his 10km title at the Mandela Day Marathon, clocking 30:32 on a course that effectively climbs from start to the finish. Then on 9 September he destroyed the star-studded men’s 10km field at the SA Cross Country Champs in Port Elizabeth, followed two weeks later by the successful defence of his 10km title at the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, where he clocked 29:11.

Just a week after that, Precious lined up at the SA 10km Road Racing Champs in Middelburg on 29 September. Precious held off the late charges of rising star Thabang Mosiako and defending champion Elroy Gelant to secure a second national title in a month. This time he clocked 29:43. And then just two weeks after that win, he travelled to Cape Town again for the OUTsurance KFM 90.4 Gun Run 10km and posted yet another successful title defence, the day after his 28th birthday, in a time of 29:24.

Having dominated the racing circuit in this period, Precious simply says, “My focus for 2019 is the World Cross Country Championships in Arnheim, Denmark next year, so by winning the national title, I effectively have secured my spot on the World Champs team, barring a fitness test. And then I want to qualify for the World Championships in Doha in October in the 10,000m.” Given his current form, odds are he will be successful in that goal.

The Best Coaching
Coached by multiple South African champion and record holder Hendrick Ramaala, Precious’ calendar is worked out to the finest detail. “We are working towards 2020 and thereafter Precious will be focusing on the big city marathons. We race sparingly and that was also the secret to my success,” says Hendrick. “We will follow this policy for Precious’ entire career.”

Precious may have been a late bloomer – he only joined Hendrick’s training group in 2015, after the latter saw him running in Cape Town – but his improvement has been remarkable under Hendrick’s coaching, going from a 29:19 best for 10km to 28:33 a year later in 2017 (still his best to date). Hendrick’s strong cross country background has also rubbed off on Precious, and no-one was able to touch him at the provincial trials at the end of August. He then carried that form into the National Championships two weeks later, and 2019 will see him race at the World Cross Country Championships, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

After that, the plan is for him to head to Europe to run in a few 10,000m races to secure his place in the 10,000m at the World Championships in Doha in October. He will run one or two half marathons in 2019 as well, but only if they fit in with the training and racing schedule set aside in his pursuit of getting to the World Champs 10,000m.

Humble but Hard
Precious is soft-spoken, preferring his coach and mentor Hendrick to speak on his behalf – and the coach is certainly excited about his protégé. “He works hard, he is tough as nails, and that will help him in his career. Because he started late, there is less opportunity for things such as many Olympics, but the next seven years will be good ones for Precious if all goes well.” Meanwhile, Precious says the 2018 season is effectively running to a close and it is now time to rest his body, and maybe reflect a bit on his year, then look ahead to 2019. No doubt he will be spending a fair bit of time with his siblings in the off-season, but be prepared for some big statements from him in 2019.

IMAGES: Jetline Action Photo

Running World Going Greener

The worldwide concern over single-use plastic is a spiralling issue that has long been acknowledged by runners, but presents race organisers with challenges in terms of practical and viable solutions. – BY NORRIE WILLIAMSON

In working on, or having the opportunity to attend events around the world, I have seen many changes in recent years, and there is a general exponential increase amongst organisers in attempts to reduce the carbon footprint, as well as a reduction in paper and plastic coupled with an increase in recycling. However, the solutions used in one country or culture may not work in another. For example, at the recent Satara Hills Ultra Half Marathon in India, which runs into a World Heritage site, the move is back to paper cups. The high humidity together with the torturous challenge of a 400m climb over 6km sees the organisers place water points at 1.3km intervals for the up-and-back event! That’s around 230,000 cups for one event, with the paper a more attractive recyclable alternative to plastic.

Steps such as these reduce the plastic use, but what about trees, and the carbon footprint of manufacture? At the finish the drinks are provided in a separate area where runners can pour their own water from large plastic ‘cool-box’ type storage kegs, and the drinks sponsor provides its rehydration in small Tetra packs which can be recycled. The culture in India means that this can be in the open as people understand, and respect that these resources are for the runners and not the supporters. Would such a system work in South Africa? Possibly, as long as the fenced off section was long enough after the finish line to prevent a back-up of runners across the finish line.

In the Chembur 10km held in Mumbai, India, the organisers went a step further by manufacturing small unglazed clay bowls as water ‘cups.’ These are completely recyclable, but only work effectively for small numbers in a race – and were less practical for the elite runners speeding by. That’s part of the worldwide challenge to solve the water table question: How to provide each runner with around 150-200ml of water at regular intervals of 1.5km to 5km, depending on humidity, heat, and prevailing culture. The IAAF rules do not allow for the distance between stations to be longer than 5km, and the fact is that exertion-initiated heat stroke is the biggest medical challenge in the vast majority of mass participation events.

Currently the ‘favoured’ option is to provide 350-500ml bottles at those regular intervals. Even in temperate London it is every 1.6km, with additional Lucozade stations for energy. That’s about 1.2 million bottles, but most importantly, its around 1.2 million small plastic caps! It is the caps from these bottles that tend to escape the clean-up team.

On that note, the cleaning teams in first world countries tend to be more thorough. Within 30 minutes of the prize-giving after the Minsk Half Marathon in Belarus, five tractor-trailer combinations lined up with four street-cleaning and brush machines, and toured the streets as an army of clean-up team moved into the start/finish area. Three hours later there was little evidence to be seen of the race, and those few remaining bits of celebratory confetti shot into the air were uncovered and removed by the daily cleaning service in what is a spotless city.

The major advantage of a city marathon is the hard surfaces, which makes collection easy, and this is also assisted by a culture that endemically scorns litter. The challenges in rural and developing countries is often harder, as only hand-picking works for bottles, cups, sachets and elusive tops in rough grass or veld.

However, it’s not just about refreshment tables. The ‘greening’ commences with registration where online entries are an ideal means of reducing the carbon costs, and can save a mass of trees. At Satara Hills, the 6000 entries sell out in just three hours – Indian running is going to be very big soon – and as with the Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon here in SA, Satara Hills has no real reason for printing an entry form, other than to ensure the opportunity exists for all to enter. Entries for London, New York, Berlin, even Mumbai, etc focus on the digital mechanisms, but even they have a portion of manual hard-print materials. Unsurprisingly, the printed option is greater in less developed regions such as the Middle East, Africa and India.

However, races in these countries or regions do not lack innovation, or the willpower, to make their greening contribution. For instance, the ‘goodie bag’ is moving from using a sponsor’s plastic bag, to instead using a recyclable tog bag that can be used for shopping and other future purposes. Even the nylon ‘shoe bag’ is being replaced. And these new bags frequently carry a motivating environmental awareness slogan, reminding runners of the overall objective.

Also, in India, races have a tradition of providing a post-race breakfast for the runners, which in Satara came in another small ‘collectable’ recycled multi-purpose bag. The Chembur 10km went one better with its goodie bag, which was constructed from newspaper by underprivileged communities, which gave those communities an opportunity to earn some money. This hit the spot in so many ways that it will be adopted for the 2019 Navi Mumbai Half Marathon, which attracts 9000 runners.

Greening has become an important point for all race organisers, and in road running worldwide. In June this year, AIMS (Association of International Marathons and Distance Races) issued its fifth version of the AIMS Green CD, with new and greater concepts, recommendations and checklists, and the IAAF were amongst the first signatories to the sporting world’s commitment to green procedures. There are also a myriad of ways that organisers can reduce their use of plastic and paper, and the effect of their race on the environment — and because of the high public profile of road running, events that don’t become more environmentally-friendly will become targets in their local community.

However, the greatest contribution that running can make is a much-needed change in attitude and culture towards littering, waste management and use of single-use plastics. Of course, the potential contradictions that exist highlight the need for this cultural attitude change… After all, the supporters of trail running or MTB cycling who go in search of ‘nature’ are often amongst the most vociferous complainants about road running, but it’s not unusual for them to drive to their events in large SUV vehicles, or travel with less than full vehicles.

The point is that greening is not an event, nor an action, it’s an attitude and culture, and that is where the power of road racing comes into the picture. With an estimated 1% to 2% of the world’s population being runners, the sport makes it possible to reach a mass of people and hopefully change their attitude, and to increase their awareness not simply of alternatives, but just as important, of what to do with waste when there is not a viable or practical alternative. The real impact of these mass events is the lessons we can learn, the attitudes that can change, and the message and actions we take away and use in the future. We all need to be part of it.

About the Author
Norrie has represented Scotland, Great Britain and South Africa in ultra-distance running and triathlon, and he is an IAAF-accredited coach and course measurer. You can read more from him at

IMAGES: Norrie Williamson

Cooking in Cambodia

Running the Khmer Empire Marathon in Cambodia was an unforgettable experience, but also a very hot and humid experience! – BY KEVIN ACKERBERG

It was 4am and still dark on Sunday 5th August, but already the temperature was 26 degrees as I stood on the starting line of the Khmer Marathon in front of the Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap. As I waited for the formalities to be over, it occurred to me that I was about to embark on a 42.2km run around a World Heritage Site – Angkor Wat was built in the 12th century and is the largest religious monument in the world. It is an impressive sight due to its size and detail.

Interest in the run was sparked when my wife Erica read an article on Cambodia in the travel section of the Sunday Times. When I saw they had a marathon around the same time as our proposed trip, it seemed the perfect opportunity to combine a holiday with a run. I had only started road running two years ago, at the age of 55, because my work involves lots of travelling, and running was the easiest way to keep fit, as all that’s required is a pair of running shoes.

My first marathon was the 2017 Nelson Mandela Marathon in KwaZulu-Natal. I was warned that this was not the best marathon for a novice, but I managed to finish in 4:52:44. Choosing the Cambodian marathon as my next one was probably not the wisest choice either, but what’s life without a challenge? However, my preparation had not gone according to plan. I work out of Accra, Ghana, and running on the road during the week is impossible because of traffic and the lack of pavements. I therefore did most of my training on a treadmill, and according to my training schedule, I was 200km short, so was not at the level I should have been…

Getting Around
Entry to the marathon was a simple online process with a cost of $60, and our travel arrangements were organised by Dave Papenfus of Cambodia and Beyond. We flew via Hong Kong and landed in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, then spent three days exploring the city and markets, as well as visiting the infamous Killing Fields – a sombre memorial to those that were murdered by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.

On the Saturday morning, we flew to Siem Reap, then hopped on a tuk-tuk to register and collect my race pack. Cambodia has two seasons, rainy and dry, and August is in the middle of the rainy season, so the driver was keen to drive us around on race day, as business is slower during these months. He agreed to meet me the next morning at 3:40am to take me to the start, then fetched Erica a bit later to bring her to the race, and waited until after the race to take us back to the hotel. What an experience to be delivered to the start on a tuk-tuk!

Race Day Dawns
Before the start, there was quite a bit of activity, with stalls being set up, music playing and runners going through their warm-up routines. The field was small, with slightly more than 400 athletes attempting the marathon, but there were many more doing the more popular distances of 3km, 10km or 21.1km. In total, 42 countries were represented.

The route took us into town, then out into the rural areas and returned to Angkor Wat. The course was flat and the running surface mainly tar, and the scenery was interesting and beautiful. Because of the small number of marathoners, at times I was running on my own, but water points were arranged every 2.5km and were well managed, offering water or juice. The last few kilometres took us via the entrance area of the temple, with many tourists looking on. At one stage, there were elephants watching us on the side of the road.

The first half went reasonably well and I got to the 21km mark in 2 hours and 15 minutes, but the second half was a bigger challenge. By then the temperature was 32 degrees, but the intense humidity made it seem much hotter, so I started focusing on running from one water point to the next. I took two 500ml bottles of water at each station, mostly to drink, but also to pour over myself to cool down. Fortunately, the water was ice cold and each mouthful was a relief. Eventually, I made it over the finish line in 5:16:21 – disappointing, as it was 17 minutes over my goal – but I was rewarded with a massage of my tired legs at the finish.

Back in town, I enjoyed an ice-cold 50c (US) draft beer in Pub Street, and from there we went on to enjoy the sights of Siem Reap and then relaxed for a few days on the beautiful island of Koh Rong Sanloem. Cambodia is a fascinating country with extremely friendly people and delicious food. The trip was a great experience and the marathon will always be a highlight in my running career.

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IMAGES: Courtesy Kevin Ackerberg & David Papenfus

Running Feast in Bangkok

As I am always busy preparing for my next big adventure, and every day is a training day for me, I would like to share this story of an amazing ultra I ran in Thailand. – BY WILLEM RICHARDS

While travelling through Bangkok in May, I was looking for a race to take part in while I was there, because the one way to really experience a country is to get outdoors and be active. The first weekend there was a half marathon in the city, but all entries were sold out by the time of my arrival in Bangkok. I went to the event registration to see if I could possibly secure an official late entry by chance, but with no luck. I did still take part in the race, though – after speaking to the organisers – and ran an unofficial 1:33 as a ghost runner.

Hungry for more, I trawled the Internet and found another race in Bangkok called the Suanpruek99 10-hour Ultra Marathon. All I could make out from the race was something about a 10-hour ultra, because the rest was all described in Thai. I mailed the organisers, who replied a couple of days later with sorry, they’re sold out, so I contacted a friend residing in Thailand, who is also a fellow runner/cyclist, and asked if he could assist in possibly securing me a late entry into the race. He came back 20 minutes later with a number for a wonderfully helpful lady called Sam, who could indeed assist me with a late entry.

I duly spoke to Sam and she said if I was willing, they could help me with a VIP entry, which would mean that I wouldn’t officially be part of the field of competitors, and that my entry fee would go towards their local charity of choice. I loved the idea from the word go, because all I wanted to do is run – I don’t really care for any medal, and if my racing fee goes to a good cause, even better!

Ready to Run
Race day arrived, and I had to be at the race venue at 5am to meet Sam at her gazebo, which I shared with a couple of other solo entries for the day. The race was scheduled to start at 6am sharp and finish at 4pm, with 10 hours of running a 2.1km loop. Seems easy enough, I thought. With some 1000 entrants taking part, the majority apparently solo entries, the race kicked off at a pace of note, and even I got caught up in the music, festivities and all the attractions next to the track. I saw myself finish 42km in around four hours, but I knew from here onwards that I had to start slowing down, as there were another six hours of abuse out there waiting for me.

On the back stretch there was an elderly man who cheered along all the competitors for the whole duration of the 10 hours, always with a smile on his face. His encouragement for each competitor was so genuine, and was just one of the many memorable things we experienced during this day.

That said, it’s hard to gauge where you are in the field of competitors in an event such as this, as there are teams with fresh runners flying past you every lap. Then there are some competitors that take a break after a couple of laps, who then return with their energy levels restored, flying around the track again. I went with the approach of taking breaks when I changed my socks, or shorts. Why the regular changes, you may ask? Well, with the heat and humidity there, it doesn’t take a lot to be drenched in sweat, so my first change of shorts was three hours into the race. Then a sock change at 42km, and so my race strategy continued, with further sock changes every three hours.

A Feast of Running
The 10-hour ultra is hosted in Nawamin Phirom Park, with all the teams and their supporters erecting tents around the park. At each of the 2.1km track corners there were official water and snack tables, and in between these there were numerous other tables with all kinds of snacks and hydration supplements. There was a medical tent with loads of medics on standby, energy drink suppliers handing out their products, and the one turn even had electric fans blowing cool air over the tired runners. There were even water points where they would pour buckets of cooling water over the overheating runners. I have never experienced anything like this before in my life – and it stood out all the more because I come from Cape Town, where we have very strict water restrictions in place.

No expense was spared on food and nutrition along the way. It was as if the music, dancing and jovial sense of all the Thai people in the park carried you along the repeated loops. My favourite part was that there were fresh slices of water melon, banana and pineapple available on each lap, and because the heat was unbearable, it was one of the few things I could keep eating as the day ticked by. I raced each lap with a fresh cut of watermelon in my belly, and it was the sweetest, juiciest water melon ever!

As the day progressed, the teams’ track support started to hand out food, water and encouragement to all the competitors, cheering them on towards 4pm. You could even get a fresh ice lolly or home-made soft-serve ice cream along the track, but I was unfortunately unable to try any of these, as I was worried that my stomach would act up. They really looked so good and tempting. All in all, this was a feast of fresh fruit, food, hydration supplements and water combined with ultra-running, all in true Thai style. This was a true celebration of life and sport.

Done and Dusted
At 4pm the horn was sounded after 10 hours of ultra-running fun and abuse in the blistering heat and humidity of Bangkok, with the race winner racking up a total of 48 laps, which equates to 101km. I had finished 89.43km by the cut-off time, but my distance is unofficial due to racing on a VIP charitable number. If I had an official entry, I would have finished in the top 10.

Thank you to the event organisers of the Suanpruek99 10-hour Ultra for organising such a great, most memorable experience. Thank you also to Tim and Rose, for helping me to secure an entry, and finally, thank you to Sam for the entry, the introductions to all the wonderful people prior to and after the race, and giving me a lift home after 10 hours of ultra-fun! If ever you are travelling through Bangkok and looking for a race, have a look out for this amazing race – just plan better than me and enter long in advance in order to get an entry – so you too can experience a run with the wonderfully friendly people of Thailand.

IMAGES: Courtesy Willem Richards & Suanpruek99