Fast Pace Expected in Cape Town SPAR Women's 10km Challenge

Fast Pace Expected in Cape Town SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge

There will be a very strong field of runners in the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge at the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town on Sunday.

 

Since the SPAR Grand Prix was opened to international as well as South African runners, a number of African runners have started competing in the SPAR 10km Challenge series, which is run at six cities around the country.

Nedbank Running Club manager Nick Bester has confirmed that Namibian runner Helalia Johannes, who won the Port Elizabeth Challenge earlier this month, will be running in Cape Town, as will Tadu Teshome Nare of Ethiopia, who came second in Port Elizabeth.

Another Nedbank runner, Irvette van Zyl, is in good form at the moment. She finished fifth, behind a group of East African runners, in the FNB OneRun 12km race in Cape Town on Sunday, in 39.22 minutes. Kesa Molotsane (Murray & Roberts) was seventh, in 40.45 minutes.Bester said he expected Van Zyl to do well on Sunday.

“She still had the Two Oceans ultra marathon in her legs when she came fifth in Port Elizabeth. But she has recovered from that and I think she will do well.” SPAR Grand Prix coordinator Ian Laxton has predicted a fast race on Sunday. “In Port Elizabeth, the first 11 runners finished in under 35 minutes, and the first six runners all earned bonus points for running faster than the winning time last year,” said Laxton.

“If you think Port Elizabeth was fast, wait for Cape Town. The course is more sheltered than in Port Elizabeth and if the weather is good, I think we can see times around 31, 32 minutes.”

“I also think more runners will earn bonus points in Cape Town. The race has been moved from Bellville to Green Point and I think that will make a difference – it is flatter.”

Other runners who can be expected to put up a good showing are last year’s Grand Prix winner, Glenrose Xaba of Boxer, Betha Chikanga and Caroline Mhandu of Maxed Elite Zimbabwe and Jenet Mbhele of Umzimkulu Striders.

More than 20 000 runners are expected to take part in the 10km SPAR Women’s Challenge and the 5km Fun Run. The 10km Run will start at 7am and the 10km Walk 15 minutes later. The Fun Run starts at 7.40am.

Gauteng Night Run sets Sandton alight

Gauteng Night Run sets Sandton alight

The inaugural Gauteng Night Run was certainly one to be proud of for organisers and athletes alike as the Sandton streets played host to runners from far and wide.

Thursday 16 May at 19h30 saw the Gauteng Provincial Government host the 8km fun run as they kicked off Africa’s greatest sporting festival: The Arnold Classic Africa. Starting and ending at Crawford College Sandton the event was initiated in order to help citizens be involved in regular exercise and help them to lead a heathy lifestyle.

The shotgun start, fired courtesy of the Honorable Faith Mazibuko: MEC Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation saw all walks of life try their hand with the immediate uphill grind through the school before hitting the roads to make up for any early lost ground.

Mr Ivor Hoff, Chief Director: Sport & Recreation – Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture & Recreation was delighted with the race; “It was wonderful to see so many people celebrate life and enjoy the Sandton streets, sky-scrapers and fresh Autumn evening. Our objective was to offer an event and route that would challenge the serious athlete yet welcome the fun runner as we endeavour to promote healthy living, great friendships and celebrating our cities. Thank you and congratulations to everyone who took part this evening: See you at the 2020 start line.”

Event organiser Danny Blumberg of DB Events said the event ran smoothly and that the event will continue to flourish in future years; “From the talk on the finish line the runners thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. They were welcomed home by friends and families; music; fresh food and flashing lights. We cannot wait to host this fantastic initiative again next year: well done to all involved!”

Results:
Men:
1. Charles Tjiane (Maxed Elite): 28:21
2. Madala Moshiane: 28:37
3. Honest Alfas (Old Mutual Athletics Club): 29:49

Women:
1. Mapaseka Makhanya : 36:18
2. Mlumi Tsolekile (Old Mutual Athletics Club): 39:52
3. Roxanne Zone (FFA): 41:33

Call Yourself a Marathoner?

The marathon is a challenge, a huge physical hurdle to get over, no matter who you are or what your level of running ability, but it seems not everybody gets that… Some ‘experts’ think you need to run fast times if you want to call yourself a marathoner. I think they’re missing the point. – BY WESLEY GABRIELS

As I enter the week leading up to my Comrades Marathon qualifier, I have had to listen to yet another version of a babbling buffoon’s rendition of the “mediocrity of the modern marathon runner,” written and composed by a critically acclaimed author of ‘’you shouldn’t get a medal for just finishing.’’ It’s okay… I don’t expect you to get it. After all, the beauty of marathon running lies in the triumph of the human spirit. As a species, there is an inherent beauty in our failings… but you may have missed that.

Cases in Point
Winelands Marathon 2015… a young man finished his first marathon in a time of 4:38. Nothing remarkable there, right, except that he had only started running six weeks earlier, just two weeks after fighting for his life in a hospital bed. He would go on to do the Two Oceans and Comrades ultra-marathons six months later.

Comrades Marathon 2016… a young lady found herself in trouble and unable to continue when a fellow runner pulled up alongside to support her and help her get to the finish. As they approached the finish line with seconds to go before cut-off, he noticed another runner unable to get to the finish line, so he told her to continue without him, so that he could go help the runner behind them. That gentleman sacrificed his race to help two complete strangers, and when the gun sounded for the final cut-off, he and his fallen comrade were mere metres short of the finish line.

Getting back to the acclaimed author, by your standards that helpful runner had achieved nothing, but to two complete strangers he was the proverbial angel… and they would all return the following year to finish the race together. Again, probably not that remarkable to you, is it?

I could also mention Peter Taylor, who runs all his marathons and ultras barefoot in order to raise funds for guide dogs, or amputee Xolani Luvuno, who completed last year’s 91km Comrades Marathon on crutches and in a time that made it look like I was standing still… but that won’t matter to you, because if you don’t get it by now, then you never will.

A Very Select Club
There is no such thing as a mediocre marathon runner. Marathon running is a discipline that only 1% of the world’s population is capable of doing, and it requires an unnatural skill-set. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter whether you run it in three hours or seven hours, at some point your body will tell you that you can’t take another step… but you will your very soul to keep putting one foot in front of the other until it’s done, and somehow you keep moving forward!

The marathon distance is such an enigma that the only thing guaranteed is the pain, so we train ourselves to not only be comfortable with the discomfort, but the pain actually fuels us. We go willingly into the darkness to face the monster, and then we take its damn soul!

In a country desperate to conquer racial and economic divides, marathon race day erases these lines effortlessly at the sound of the starter’s gun, albeit just for a few hours, but that mutual struggle of the marathon distance puts us all on truly equal footing.

The Real Deal
I can only pray that you are one day lucky enough to experience what it’s like to experience a marathon the way we do, mr acclaimed author, and I can only hope that the experience teaches you a touch of humility, as it has done for the rest of us. It may even change your life.

I am privileged to be able to call myself a marathon runner, and I have the world of respect for anyone who attempts it, no matter what their finishing time is, or even if they miss the final cut-off. I have been lucky enough to have been part of both the front and back of the pack on marathon day, so I’ve seen both worlds, but as the saying goes, a marathon is like a mullet hairstyle… the party is in the back!

About the Author
Wesley is a Cape Town-based ultra-marathon runner and member of Celtic Harriers, who also plays and coaches cricket.

IMAGES: Chanel Webber Adonis, Moegsien Ebrahim, Jetline Action Photo & courtesy Two Oceans Marathon

It’s so Easy to WIN a Trip to the Great Wall of China Marathon!

Is running the Great Wall Marathon on your bucket list? Well we have good news for you, Huawei is running a stunning competition for a trip for two to the Great Wall Marathon in China on 18 May.



This wonderful prize is sponsored by Huawei Technologies South Africa, to celebrate its devices being Discovery Vitality approved. It’s a tough marathon, make no mistake, but just being able to take in all that history, and those views, will make every step worth it! 

The winners will receive:

• Roundtrip flights for two – Including airport taxes.

• Transfers from airport/hotel/airport.

• Travel Insurance.

• VISA assistance and payment for VISA’s.

• Sightseeing in Beijing and surrounds.

• Evening Celebration Party after the race.

• Lunches and dinners not specified above.

Now the important part, how do you enter? It's simple, CLICK THIS LINK!

 But if you still need help we have you covered, check out our infographic below which shows you step by step how to enter! If you own a Huawei Device or are a Discovery Vitality member you earn yourself a bonus entry! 

Huawei Infographic (2) It's so Easy to WIN a Trip to the Great Wall of China Marathon! Features

WIN a Trip to the Great Wall of China Marathon!

Ni hao! That's hello in Mandarin, which you will need to know if you win Huawei’s stunning competition for a trip for two to the Great Wall Marathon in China on 18 May.

This wonderful prize is sponsored by Huawei Technologies South Africa, to celebrate its devices being Discovery Vitality approved. It’s a tough marathon, make no mistake, but just being able to take in all that history, and those views, will make every step worth it!

The winners will receive:
• Roundtrip flights for two – Including airport taxes.
• Transfers from airport/hotel/airport.
• Travel Insurance.
• VISA assistance and payment for VISA’s.
• Sightseeing in Beijing and surrounds.
• Evening Celebration Party after the race.
• Lunches and dinners not specified above.

TO ENTER, CLICK THIS LINK!

The estimated value of this competition is R180,000! There will be one winner chosen at random, and the winner will get to select a running buddy of their choice to compete and go on the trip with them. The winners will be announced on social media on 8 April 2019 and a ceremony for the prize handover will be held on a date agreed by all parties.

Trip itinerary:
• 15 May 2019: Explore Beijing – Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and more.
• 16 May 2019: Great Wall Marathon Route Inspection.
• 17 May 2019: Cloisonné Factory and Ming Tombs.
• 18 May 2019: Race day.
• 19 May 2019: Beijing excursion option and Evening Celebration Party.
• 20 May 2019: Farewell Beijing.

TO ENTER, CLICK THIS LINK!

The T’s and C’s: Steps to participate and judging criteria
1. Entry into the competition is open to all South African residents above the age of 18 years and with a valid South African passport.
2. The organisers of the competition reserve the right to substitute the prizes for an alternative prize of equal or greater value should the prizes promoted not be available due to unforeseen circumstances.
3. The prizes are not exchangeable for cash, and will not be transferable or negotiable.
4. To enter, You must complete one of the following race distances in these qualifying times:
• 21.1km 2h 24m 59sec
• 42.2km 4h 49m 59sec
• 56km 6h 45m 59sec
5. Runners need to enter the competition via the website using the link
6. All entrants’ details need to be uploaded in order to qualify for entry. Details required: Name, surname, contact cellphone number, email address, vitality number, Huawei wearable device serial number and screen shot of the race that was successfully completed.
7. If you successfully complete a race according to requirements (qualifying time) you will be awarded one entry to the Great Wall Marathon competition.
8. If you successfully complete a race according to requirements and are a Discovery Vitality member you will be awarded an additional entry to the Great Wall Marathon competition.
9. If you successful complete a race according to requirements, are a Discovery Vitality member and own a Huawei wearable device you will be awarded another entry to the Great Wall Marathon competition.
10. Winners will be chosen via random draw on 5 April 2019
11. Within 3 (three) days from the date of the random draw, the Competition Winner will be contacted by Huawei via email or cellphone. The Competition Winner will then be requested to provide information to verify that he/she is a qualifying person for the prize. Should Huawei be unable to contact the Competition Winner within five business days, or should the Competition Winner refuse to provide the personal information, or should the Competition Winner not be a qualifying person, then Huawei will select another winner and restart the process.

TO ENTER, CLICK THIS LINK!

Ready for Another Big Year

It’s a case of ‘something old, something new’ for former Comrades Marathon champion Charne Bosman this year. The 2016 women’s winner was unveiled as a marquee signing for the new Murray & Roberts Running Club in January, but in the meantime she has gone back to a tried and tested formula of being coached by Lindsey Parry, who helped guide her to her biggest win yet – and she’s feeling confident about her 2019 Comrades form. – BY SEAN FALCONER

One of the biggest smiles in the room at the recent launch of the new Murray & Roberts club belonged to Charne Bosman, and she has continued smiling at the start line, and on the podium, at recent races in Gauteng. “I am thrilled to join the Murray & Roberts team – and black and yellow are definitely my colours!” she says. “I decided at the beginning of this year that it was a new year, so I needed a new beginning, and I’m looking forward to this next chapter in my career.”

“I have nothing but thanks for the Nedbank Running Club, but I felt it was time for a fresh change, and when I saw the incredible support of the new club at the Dis-Chem Half Marathon, I knew I had made a good choice. On the other hand, I decided to go back to being coached by Lindsey, because he helped me do so well in 2015 and 2016. The last two years I did my own thing, but realised that even with all my running experience, having Lindsey in the build-up to races, especially the Comrades, is so beneficial.”

Charne finished second woman overall and first veteran at Dis-Chem, showing that she is already in good racing shape for the 2019 season, with plenty of speed in her legs over shorter distances, but she says her main focus this year will once again be the Comrades. “People say I am 43, but to be honest, I feel stronger than before. I don’t let myself say I am getting older, I stay positive. As you get older, you realise you need to work harder, therefore I’m doing more strength work, cross training and swimming, focusing on my recovery, and I have my coach back to take the stress away. I’m aiming to get to Comrades well prepared, and Lindsey gives me such valuable feedback. If I go too fast in a race, he adapts my training the following week and gives me a little less to do, so we are watching it all carefully.”

Comrades Highlight
Unsurprisingly, Charne lists her 2016 Comrades win as the biggest moment of her career, especially given the way she reeled in a faltering Caroline Wöstmann, who had earlier opened a massive lead – and that in spite of having broken a small toe just under seven weeks before the race when she slipped in the bathroom. “I kept that quiet for a long time, only Lindsey and my family knew, so I didn’t expect to run so well, but it just shows you, anything can happen on race day.”

“I will always remember how down I felt for about four hours after breaking my toe, but then I went onto Google to research treatment and read that hyperbaric chambers can speed up recovery from injury. I found a chamber at the Eugene Marais Hospital, mailed Doctor Gregory Weir the next morning, and he replied that he would help me, for free! I also read that rugby players often play with broken toes, so I spoke to Dr Org Strauss at the Blue Bulls rugby team and asked whether I would do further damage if I kept on running. He said the pinkie toe does very little, so if I can deal with the pain, I can still run.”

That saw Charne take two weeks off running, during which she did 10 sessions in pure oxygen in the hyperbaric chamber, which she says halved her recovery time from the injury. “I also told myself that pain is just temporary, blocked out the pain for two to three hours when I ran, and then iced my toe so that I was ready to go again the next morning. I still can’t believe I got through that and lined up for the race, but if you’re hungry enough for success, you will get to that start line. I’m hungry again this year… just going to mind my toes!”

Even so, Charne admits that she didn’t expect to win, even when she heard from her supporters that Caroline was in trouble. “Lindsey had given me a plan and I stuck to it, but with 10km to go I didn’t think I could close a 10-minute gap. I still had to get through the race myself, so I had to keep running at my pace, and besides, I need to see someone in order to chase them, but when I actually saw the cars and motorbikes around Caroline, that was when I realised the win was on. I knew that when I passed her, I’d have to run as hard as possible. For everyone watching, it was clear that she wasn’t able to respond… but I didn’t know that, so I kept pushing all the way to the finish. It was a great race!”

Career Longevity
Winning Comrades shot Charne into the national limelight, but she had actually been at the forefront of South African women’s running for more than two decades. Amongst her many titles and accolades are three SA Marathon titles and 23 outings in the green and gold of her country (in road and cross country), plus she won the Soweto Marathon twice in consecutive years, as well as three consecutive Two Oceans Half Marathon titles. However, it was the Comrades win that brought her the mast attention. “I don’t think we realise the magnitude of the Comrades in South Africa,” says Charne. “When I won in 2016, some people asked me when I’d started running!”

Of course, there have also been disappointments along the way, and Charne says her biggest regret remains not getting to the Olympics. “2003 was one of my biggest years, with wins in the Peninsula and Soweto Marathons. I then tried to qualify for the 2004 Olympic Marathon, but picked up a stress fracture in my leg. In 2008 I was in the marathon squad, but I wasn’t selected for the final Games team, and in 2012 I messed things up in Rotterdam when I tried again to qualify. My target was 2:36, but I felt great and thought I could go 2:34, so I started too fast and by 22 kilometres I’d blown it. Failing to make the Olympics in 2012 almost ended my running career. I was sad for months after that race, because it was one of my biggest dreams, and I didn’t achieve it.”

Eventually, some months later, Charne says she finally got herself running again, but with a new focus. “I decided that my Olympic dream was just not meant to be, but at least I had tried, and that led to my decision to try my first ultra, at the 2012 City to City 50km. I finished second, in spite of not being properly prepared for the distance, and then getting tripped and falling with 7km to go. The following year, I finished third at Two Oceans, in one of the best races of my career. I was lying ninth at Constantia Nek, but then I started catching everyone. I was hammering it over the last few kilometres, and if the race had been just 1km further, I could have passed Tabtitha Tsatsa for second place… which would have meant I would have become the winner when Natalya Volgina was disqualified.”

With that really successful 2013 Two Oceans debut still fresh in her memory, Charne then made her Comrades debut, finishing fifth. Ultra-running clearly suits her, and in the years from 2013 to 2018 she has earned four gold medals at Two Oceans (finishing in positions 2, 5, 4 and 3, with a best of 3:40:16 in that 2013 debut) and five golds at Comrades, with an equally remarkable finishing record of positions 5, 2, 1, 3 and 5, and a best of 6:25:55 in the 2016 Down Run, when she won the race.

Planning for Success
When asked if she would like to go after the win at Two Oceans, to round off her collection of top five positions in the race, she says no, because Comrades is her main focus this year. “It would be nice to win Two Oceans, but this year it’s too close to Comrades. Last year I learnt my lesson when I won the Loskop 50km in 3:22 and broke the course record for veterans, then had my biggest training week at altitude in Graskop the very next week. I hadn’t actually raced too hard at Loskop, but the big week on top of it broke me, and that affected my Comrades.”

“So I will see how Two Oceans goes, but I will have worked out with Lindsey what I need to do, and then I will run a sensible race. If there is something in the last few kays and there is a chance to win it, as Caroline did, then I will go for it, but that is not my main focus. Lindsey always says I need to run certain times, and I am going to listen to him, because I feel this year I have the opportunity to do well at Comrades again.”

That careful planning also includes going back to what worked for her in the past. In the build-up to her 2016 Comrades win, she won the Johnson Crane Marathon and finished fourth at Two Oceans. In 2017, she didn’t finish the Peninsula Marathon, but then took second place at the Om Die Dam 50km. Last year, however, she probably raced too much, winning the Johnson Crane, Bestmed/Tuks and Deloitte marathons, as well as the Sunrise Monster 32km and at Loskop. This year she has already finished second in the Dis-Chem Half, and followed that up with another win in the Johnson Crane Marathon, posting a new course record of 2:44:52, but she says she is actually holding back.

“In 2018 I was trying to do my long training runs in races, and I think that was one of my mistakes, because even if just training, you naturally go five to 10 percent faster. Lindsey says he will join me in some races this year to hold me back, and will keep an eye on me to make sure I stick to what is planned. I still won at Johnson Crane, and may go down to the Cape for the Peninsula Marathon, but I am running according to a strict plan. I learnt a big lesson in 2018, that to do well at Comrades, you can’t race all the other races. You have to train and race smart.”

Looking Ahead
Charne has been running since 1991 and says she instantly fell in love with running the first time she ran with her cousin. It also soon became apparent that she had serious running talent. “When I was 16 years old, I did a VO2max test and they said I scored 69, which meant that I had lots of potential to be a long-distance runner. They also said I was built like a Kenyan, with long legs and a short torso, which gave me still more encouragement.”

Even now at 43, she says she still loves the way running makes her feel. Nevertheless, she has reached that part of a pro runner’s career when one inevitably has to begin thinking of what will come next, when your competitive years at the top are over. “You can’t run competitively forever, so I am already thinking ahead. I studied teaching way back in the day, then only taught for six months before turning pro in 1998, but last year I actually updated my CV for the first time in years because several schools asked me to help them out as a relief teacher.”

“If schools need me again this year, I will be available, as long as it fits into my training schedule, but to be honest, I can’t see myself going back to teaching fulltime. On the other hand, I can see myself as a running coach, helping with children, because I love to work with kids. I’m already coaching junior athletes, and enjoy giving back in that way. Also, Murray & Roberts are supporting the Vorentoe Academy, so if there is an opportunity and they want me to help there, I would love to get involved. I’ve actually just done some coaching courses with ASA, and it made me realise that I actually enjoy studying, so even though it’s been a long time since my varsity days, I may look for something to study after Comrades, like sports marketing. You’re never too old to try something new!”

No matter what the future holds, for now Charne says she is still fully focused on her running. “The older I get, the stronger I seem to get, so I do not see my age as a barrier… but I do listen to my body more now. I know what works for me, and of course, what does not work. Experience has taught me to focus only on what I can control, and that is running my own race. My rivals must do what they need to do, but all that matters to me when I cross the finish line is that I want to know that I gave it everything I have. If I can tell myself I did that, then I will be happy with the result, no matter that my position is.”

IMAGES: Jetline Action Photo & courtesy Murray & Roberts

Safety First

Every outdoor activity carries inherent risk, and as runners, we are certainly aware of the dangers presented by technical terrain, rapid weather changes, unclear paths or exposed climbs. Sadly, however, a rolled ankle, heatstroke or a hidden puffadder are not our primary dangers any more. The threat of personal attack is on the rise, and the buzz on every running forum is centred on safety precautions and solutions. – BY KIM STEPHENS

This situation flies in the face of some of our fundamental reasons for running: Freedom, solitude, and the flexibility to enjoy our sport at any time of the day or night. The reality is that we all need to apply some practical thinking to our training patterns, and work as a community to protect each other and our sport.

The first step in empowering our running community is to better understand the risks. The news reports on the most recent attacks on Table Mountain have been sorely lacking in both fact and detail, leaving many of us guessing when it comes to where we should run, and what we should look out for. Fortunately, some brave victims from across South Africa have shared their stories here in an effort to put the missing pieces together. (We must just advise anyone currently working through the trauma of violence or personal attack that there are many triggers within the following stories.)

Beach Attack
The small surfing town of Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape offers an idyllic holiday destination, but it became a runner’s nightmare for visitor Charlotte Noble of Cape Town, a former Comrades gold medallist and now elite age-group trail runner. “I’ve run for 30 years all over this country, and in very remote places abroad, and never felt threatened or had an incident. Then in June last year we went to J-Bay for a family surfing holiday, staying on the beach near Supertubes, and found it a busy town with a lot happening at that time of year,” recounts Charlotte.

“I trotted off on my long run, planning to run to St Francis and call my husband when I got there. I stopped a couple times to take some sunrise pics and have a snack, then at 11km decided that I’d run back and save Andy the drive, and run to St Francis another time. Two kays from the town, on a long stretch of beach with fishermen 800m ahead, I looked up to see a man 50m ahead, walking towards me. Then suddenly to my left running at me was another guy!”

“I’ve always thought if attacked on a beach I’d run into the sea and out-swim any guy, but the sea was rough and so I stopped waist-deep and they fell onto me, dunking my pack with my phone in it. ‘Phone, phone,’ the one kept saying. ‘I’m giving you my phone,’ I replied, trying to get it out the drenched pocket. He then produced a huge knife and proceeded to cut my Salomon racing pack off me, then the two ran off, seemingly arguing about who should get what.”

“I was physically fine, just a scratch wound on my chest from the blade, but psychologically I was stuffed. Initially I was ecstatic to be alive, to get back to my kids and family, but for weeks I was jumpy, and I did not run for days after. My lessons… Don’t run without knowing where poorer areas are in relation to your route, out-and-back routes are problematic because you risk being ambushed, and pepper spray or a taser is useless if attacked by more than one assailant. Also, why carry an expensive phone? Now I’m training up my Ridgeback pup, as I believe trail dogs to be the best deterrent and alarm system.”

Right in the Suburbs
Road runners are not exempt from the threat of attack, which has seen a rapid rise in the number of social running groups springing up on both tar and trail. Cape Town runner Susan O’Connor changed her running approach after an attack on a popular running route. “I was attacked on a beautiful summer’s morning running over the bridge from Bishopscourt to Wynberg at the top of Edinburgh Drive. It was the same route I ran every Sunday at 6:30am if I didn’t have a race on,” she says.

“I used to run on my own to have some peace and quiet in my life and a time to reflect in general, but after the attack I was petrified to run on my own. My training dwindled to nothing, because I hardly ran for the first six months after the attack. I kept on looking over my shoulder when I left the safety of my front door, and I could only manage about 1km down the road. I eventually joined a group of girls who ran in the area and they got me back into the swing of things. The positive side of this was I made new friends.”

“I was furious in the beginning that this person had chosen me that day to attack, but as most of us who survive these attacks and come out in one piece always say, ‘It could have been a lot worse.’ I fought back and realised how strong I actually was in the fight or flight mode. Unfortunately, it is not safe to run on your own, but if you do decide to do so, take mace with you and let somebody know the route you are running. I sometimes run with two little mace containers, one in each hand and I am always ready.”

Negotiation Time
Ian Hendry from Johannesburg is a regular work commuter, either with his running pack or on his bike, and one of his favourite routes is The Spruit. “This day, because I was running, I decided to follow the river under the road bridge and then come up the other side, so as to not have to cross the road. As I was coming up, I saw a man in blue overalls coming towards me, also on his way commuting to work, I assumed. I was on a 70cm wide section of concrete ledge, so I moved to the open side to allow him to pass me on the wall side. I even greeted him with a hearty ‘Good morning!’”

“As we crossed, he grabbed my Camelbak chest-strap with his left hand, pushed me slightly back towards the edge of the ledge and pulled out a knife with his right hand. He put the knife against my throat and told me he wanted money, my cellphone and my Camelbak.” What followed was a surprisingly calm negotiation, as Ian was adamant about keeping his running pack. They settled on him handing over his cellphone and the R30 that was in its cover, and then the man retreated under the bridge.

“On insistence from my boss, I went to see an ICAS psychologist for a few sessions. I thought I was okay, but a number of things surfaced in the sessions. For one, I kept replaying in my mind what I could have done, ranging from smashing his head into the concrete wall, grabbing the knife and jabbing him, pulling him back over the edge into the river, etc. In the end, the way I handled it was the best – my only thought at the time was to negotiate to get out of there!”

“South African men, in particular, are tough, and don’t need to talk to people about these things – we are okay and it’s the women who need to talk about their feelings, or so we are conditioned to think. That’s utter rubbish! I thought I was okay, but I needed to talk to someone. Now, whenever I speak to someone who has been hijacked, had a home robbery or been mugged, I strongly advise that the men see someone,”

Fellow Mountain Users?
A few months ago, Claire-Louise Worby and a friend were accosted on the contour path above Cape Town’s beautiful Newlands Forest, close to the turnstile. “Whilst running along the single track, we came across two men who were dressed in smart and appropriate walking gear. They looked very much like two walkers enjoying the trail. Upon approach, the first man passed us as we stood aside to let them walk past on the single track. We even greeted each other politely as he walked past first myself and then my friend, but when the second man came up, they closed in on us. They calmly said, ‘Ok, we will kill you. Give us what you have.’”

“My friend and I froze as they searched not only our pockets, but our sports bras and our underwear. They groped and grabbed every inch of our bodies. In what I now know as a survival instinct that can happen other than ‘fight or flight’, my friend and I stood frozen. We only had our car keys, and I had my cell phone. I also had mace in my pocket. At one point I had my hand on it, but in better judgement gave it over rather than aggravate one or both of them.”

“When they took the keys and my phone, they insisted we must have more – they wouldn’t accept that my friend didn’t have her phone. The one man was holding me by the back of my running vest as the one who had been searching my friend suggested, ‘Let’s just rape them.’ In a haze, I recall my friend saying to them that they had everything, whilst I peeled myself out of the zip-up running vest that the man was holding and we just ran.”

“I still don’t understand how it all happened, and am grateful we got away safely. On our way down the mountain, we came across other women, running on their own. The first had a running belt with her phone and she called a contact who worked for mountain rescue to alert them. We told the other women to turn around. The SANParks ranger was already there when we got down and was incredibly proactive.”

This devastating experience has taken Claire off the trails she loves, but she hopes to return, in time. When she does, she says it will be with large groups only. She adds that she has found the trauma counselling at the Rondebosch Police Station to be of huge help. And her advice centres on the small, practical choices we can all make: “Don’t run with anything that will attract someone, like headphones. I’m still on the fence about self-defence things like pepper spray, though. Now, when I run on my own on the road, I arm myself with pepper spray, but I think there is a time and place for defending yourself. I know that giving up your personal belongings is far less of a sacrifice then getting into a heavy altercation. In my situation, an aggressive move could have jeopardised my own and my friend’s safety.”

Sidebar: Safety Warning for Table Mountain
The Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) is primarily an open access park and SANParks says that from time to time there is criminal activity in some of the urban edge areas of the Park. In answer to these challenges the TMNP has recruited and deployed Visitor Safety Officers (VSOs) to patrol these popular use zones in the Park, act as a deterrent to criminals, and give safety advice to mountain users. Furthermore, Saskia Marlow, the SANParks Hospitality Services, Film and Events Manager of TMNP says, “We actively encourage people to run in a group, leave their valuables at home and ensure they have let someone know where they are going and when to expect them home.”

Knife Wounds
Another harrowing experience last year occurred when Kent Venish was covering the 8km of road on the way to his much-loved trail playground in Gonubie, near East London, when he mistook his assailant for a late night reveller making his way home in the early light of morning. “In the next second he was on me and pulled me off my feet by my pack, which snapped the plastic clips across my chest. He shouted he wants money, I had none, and it was at this point I saw the knife.”

“They say fight or flight… well, maybe in hindsight I should have ‘flighted.’ Anyhow, I attacked him by closing the distance so he could not use the knife. I parried with my left arm which took three stabs and then locked his arm and proceeded to bend it backwards until it broke. He screamed blue murder and kicked me to the ground, then stumbled off with my bag and kit in it. I got up, shouting at him and started chasing him down, and I had taken a few running steps when I suddenly realised I was breathing through the side of my chest. I had been stabbed in the side of my chest and instantly knew I had a more serious problem than my kit being stolen, so I stopped chasing.”

Kent was rescued by a gentleman on his way to work, who piled him into his car and drove him home, where his wife then took him to hospital. He has fully recovered since then, and vows not to let this incident rob him of his love for trail running, but his wife no longer allows him to run in that particular area!

Roaring Response
Seasoned multi-sport athlete, Kim van Kets has a rather refreshing take on the safety issue. “I have run for 30 years on every beach, jeep track and path I can find, often alone. Not once in all this time have I experienced anything other than kindness, humanity and goodwill from everyone I have met. Until a year ago. I was just finishing my last long run with a heavy pack in preparation for the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon and I was running alone on deserted farm roads early in the morning. As I was approaching a crossroads, a guy approached running from the opposite direction and we both turned and started running down the same road. We were moving at a similar pace, so I greeted him, commented on the weather and overtook him.”

“A while later he overtook me and this happened a couple of times. Every time we passed each other I engaged with him. I found him non-threatening, I registered that he had a pleasant face, I felt no fear or anxiety at his presence. After about 2km he pulled off the road, and as I approached him he came towards me and said, ‘Give me your cell phone!’ I thought I must have misheard him, maybe he was asking for the time, so I went right up to him, and only then did I register that he was brandishing a huge rock in my direction.”

“Something happened in my head. I roared at him repeatedly that I would kill him if he took one step closer, and I think I did something similar to the New Zealand Haka. I’m not sure exactly how long this went on for, but I roared so hard that my throat hurt for days. He kept coming at me, and I kept roaring/Haka-ing, and there was eventually a weird Mexican standoff. At some point I also picked up a rock, because I wasn’t sure how long I could maintain the upper hand with just my voice. I sort of registered through my rage that if he was going to crush my skull, he would have done so by now, so I started to back away, still roaring/haka-ing/brandishing, and eventually I turned and started jogging away.”

“I was lucky, but so was he. I don’t know what would have happened if he had tried to hurt me, but I think he would have come off second best. I don’t think he was a hardened criminal, and I actually felt rather a lot of compassion for him afterwards. I think he was quite young, not more than 18. I bumped into my husband about 2km down the road and we went to look for him, because I had a strong sense that he needed someone to tell him that he had crossed a line that day, and that he needed some guidance. I didn’t find him, though, and I regret that. Anyway, from now on he will hopefully realise that not all middle-aged ladies are necessarily easy targets.”

“I also realised after the incident that having a pepper spray or taser in your bag is a total waste of time. If you have a weapon, it must be in your hand. Also, cross the road, smile and wave. Don’t engage or go up to someone. I have not changed my running habits at all, but I do have a plan now in case I need it, and it involves speed, aggression and surprise.”

Criminal Gang
Running within the safety of well-organised events is a great way to experience new routes and venues, with marshals and fellow runners to maintain your security, but when not running in an organised event, group runs remain a key first line of defence. One runner who swears by the power of having a running crew is Kerry Red (above centre, making victory sign) from Cape Town, who was attacked in March 2017. “It was a pretty typical Monday morning, I woke up, put on my running shoes and headed out on my usual pre-work morning run from Muizenberg to Kalk Bay and back. I had been doing this same run most mornings for more than three years without incident.”

“From Muizenberg to St James, I ran along what is known as ‘The Catwalk,’ a great pathway between the train tracks and the ocean. I love running there. I noticed a guy with a bicycle who I had seen earlier, on my way to Kalk Bay, and I got a bad feeling about him, but there were other people about. There was a girl on the bench tying her shoe, and there was another runner up ahead, about to disappear on the path, so I thought it must be safe. As I passed the guy, and then the girl, a man with a hoodie stepped out from the tunnel that runs underneath the train tracks to the road. I tried to pass but he blocked me and in that split second I knew.”

“I immediately started to scream as loud as possible, so much so that I didn’t have a voice for a week! He pulled a gun out and held it to my stomach, and with the other hand he started grabbing at me. I fought back, all the while screaming, and but when I looked to the side, I noticed that the ‘lookout’ and the girl tying her shoe were involved in this as well. Eventually he had me pinned down on my haunches against the wall, but I was still fighting back and screaming as loud as I possibly could.”

“The thing that saved me was that two people close by heard me screaming. They shouted back from the tunnel, then came to investigate the screaming and witnessed the scene. This startled my attacker and gave me the slightest gap to get away. I climbed over the train tracks and started running in the direction of the Muizenberg Police Station, which was about 1.5km away, and it felt like the longest, toughest run of my life. My legs felt like lead. I got to the police station and eventually, after much pleading, managed to get them to come with me, as I suspected the attackers would’ve still been in the area. It’s a massive relief that we managed to catch them and get the gun, which was fully loaded and ready for use!”

“It is a complete miracle that I walked away unharmed, and I thank God for that. In the words of the policeman taking my statement, ‘Lady, do you know how lucky you are to be alive?’ It turned out that the three already had warrants out on them for other crimes, but it took a full year for the court case to take place, with me constantly having to follow-up with the police. They are so understaffed and service such a large area that it felt like a losing battle at times.”

“After the incident, and a range of every kind of emotion one can imagine in the days after – I did go for trauma counselling – I went on to the community Facebook page to alert the locals of what had happened and requested that if anyone had experienced something similar, to please go to the police station, as their attackers may have been the same guys that attacked me. It’s so important to report these things, I cannot emphasise that enough.”

“As I hit the post button, I noticed the post directly under mine. Incredibly, it read ‘We are a newly formed group of trail runners in the area. If you are keen to join us for a run, get in touch.’ Well, this was just heaven sent! Up until that point I had been running on my own on the road, as I didn’t really have any other options, but after my incident, the amount of loved ones begging me to quit running, or saying ‘please don’t run on your own,’ was overwhelming.”

“I had actually strapped on my shoes and gone for a run the day after my attack, because I do not want to live in fear, but I got into contact with the Muizenberg Trail Dawgs and joined the group, and it has been so incredible. We have all become great friends and the group has grown so much over the past year and a half. I am, in some strange way, so very grateful that everything happened the way that it did, as something so awesome came out of such a horrible incident. We’ve built such strong friendships as a result, and a group of the ‘Dawgs’ even accompanied me to court when I was asked to testify. They have been such a great support.”

Take Back Control
In spite of all these frightening stories, it is not all doom and gloom in the world of running, it is simply time for us to work on making it better. So what can we do? For starters, there are a few proactive, protective items and devices you could consider carrying, such as Mace, the world’s most popular brand of pepper spray (available through various retailers, including Cape Union Mart), or a pocket-size stun gun (available through Takealot). You could also purchase a Run Angel wristband from We Run (https://werunonline.co.za), which emits an ear-piercing alarm when you push the button, and pairs with smartphones via a free app to send out alerts in the event of an emergency.

Furthermore, companies like Cape Town-based ACT Personal Safety offer courses to improve situational awareness and proactive strategies for hostile confrontations. “We also advise pre-planning and a thorough understanding of the risks and preventative measures before deciding on self-defence devices or strategies,” says Kelee Arrowsmith of ACT, adding that running groups or organisations should avoid over-sharing their crime-prevention strategies, which only serves to pre-warn the criminals.

It is worth remembering that if we all stay away from our favourite running playgrounds for fear of our safety, we only serve to make them more isolated, dangerous zones. In short, the wisest advice seems to be to get out there in your numbers, take back the spaces that make us all feel most alive, and keep running!

Sidebar: Have your ICE Numbers Ready
It is vital to have the correct emergency numbers saved to your phone. In so doing, you can get help that much quicker if attacked and injured, and you position yourself as a potential rescuer. Research the numbers for your specific area, but here are a few general numbers to begin with.
• Flying Squad (national) – 10111
• Ambulance (national) – 10177

Cape Town
• Cape Town City Emergency – 021 480 7700
• Table Mountain Rescue – 021 937 0300
• SANParks Visitor Safety – 086 110 6417

Central Gauteng
• Johannesburg Central – 011 375 5911
• Roodepoort – 011 375 5911
• Sandton – 011 375 5911

KwaZulu-Natal
• Durban Metro Police – 031 306 4422
• Durban Metro Ambulance – 031 307 7744

WIN a Trip to the Great Wall of China Marathon!

If your dream is to run an international marathon, we have great news for you! Huawei is running a stunning competition for a trip for two to the Great Wall Marathon in China on 18 May.

This wonderful prize is sponsored by Huawei Technologies South Africa, to celebrate its devices being Discovery Vitality approved. It’s a tough marathon, make no mistake, but just being able to take in all that history, and those views, will make every step worth it!

The winners will receive:
• Roundtrip flights for two – Including airport taxes.
• Transfers from airport/hotel/airport.
• Travel Insurance.
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• Sightseeing in Beijing and surrounds.
• Evening Celebration Party after the race.
• Lunches and dinners not specified above.

Now the important part, how do you enter? It’s simple, CLICK THIS LINK!

But if you still need help we have you covered, check out our infographic below which shows you step by step how to enter! If you own a Huawei Device or are a Discovery Vitality member you earn yourself a bonus entry!

Tougieda’s Triumph

As she made the final turn at the 2018 Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, Tougieda Allie felt a sudden sense of relief and joy that made her burst into tears as soon as she reached that blue-carpeted finish line. A tough year followed by a tough race… but she had made it through both. – BY PJ MOSES

The sight of that blue carpet at the finish of the Cape Town Marathon was one of the sweetest sights Tougieda Allie has ever seen in her running career. “I could not hold back the emotions, and when my feet touched that blue carpet, I felt like I was running on clouds. It is hard to explain to anybody else, but the past year has been very rough for me and my family, with many personal obstacles that made things increasingly difficult for me as a mother, and that moment of personal triumph at the end of a tough race just meant so much to me.”

Even though this veteran runner of many races, including the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, has many medals in her collection and many years of running experience, it took all of her determination and a strong will to get from the start to the finish of this marathon. “Besides the personal issues weighing on my mind in the lead-up to and during the race, I also had to deal with a pain in my side that made it hard to train for two weeks before the marathon. I decided to self-medicate the pain, just in case I went to the doctor and he gave me antibiotics that would then mean that I could not run the race. I didn’t want to take the chance, and just made sure that my head and chest were in a good state. Whatever the pain was, I could deal with that after the marathon.”

She thus took things slow and easy during the race, just staying in front of the backmarkers, and even though she would eventually run one of her slowest marathon times, she wasn’t worried about that. “It was more important to me this time to concentrate on finishing, and in the end everything went according to plan. I finished with ten minutes to spare before the cut-off.” Then, with the job done, she let all that emotion come tumbling out.

Runs in the Family
Tougieda admits that running was far from her mind for much of her life, even though she stayed active with regular hikes with her two kids and extended family. However, she had one specific friend who kept telling her to give running a try, and kept inviting her to join the weekly training runs held by the Itheko Athletic Club. Finally, in 2011, Tougieda decided to try it, just to shut her friend up, because she says she didn’t like being nagged about it all the time.

“I didn’t really like the idea of running, and I had always thought that there was something wrong with people who were runners, but after that first training session with Itheko I was hooked, and decided to go every week. Soon I ran my first race at the Metropolitan 10km in Bellville. I didn’t know anything about the route, and if I knew beforehand how hilly it was, then maybe I would not have run it!”

These days her family has a rich running culture and she has many relatives who are members of running clubs all over Cape Town. “We love being part of the running community and leading a healthy lifestyle. My daughter and her kids also recently joined Itheko AC, and it makes my heart burst with pride when I see them enjoying the adventures we undertake as a running family. I haven’t yet convinced my son to start running, but I hope he joins us soon and brings his family along to make our circle even bigger.”

Me-time and Medals
This mother and grandmother from Hanover Park runs as much as she possibly can, and says the most important thing that running gives her is what she calls “Me-time,” which she relishes. “I find that I love the feeling of being in my own head while I am running and reflecting on my life and the choices before me. I also make time to recite words from the Quran and this calms me.”

There is still one medal that is missing from Tougieda’s collection, one which she would dearly love to get her hands on. “The Comrades Marathon is always on my mind as a runner, and I always say that I have actually done a full Comrades, just over two years. The first time I decided to bail at about 57km because I was seeing stars, the second time I went through halfway when the wheels came off. Being a Muslim, I have had to put the race on the back-burner because it fell inside the window of our fast, but I am hoping to go back in 2020 to tackle the race again. That is the biggest tick I want on my bucket list, and I am determined to successfully complete that race, no matter what!”

Efficiency Improves Performance

Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson, Usain Bolt and Eluid Kipchoge… four of the world’s greatest athletes, each with an identifying characteristic that makes them stand out from the crowd. Of course, these are not the only athletes that will align with the message of this article, but they are amongst the most successful in their events. – By Norrie Williamson

Lewis, who won nine Olympic and eight World Championship gold medals, was dominant in the 100m, 200m, long jump and 4x100m relay events from 1979 to 1996. Any follower of the sport would easily recognise his running style with straight, out-stretched hands working like knives. He was followed by Johnson, whose stiff upright running posture, and short staccato steps with high cadence defied the conventional wisdom that favoured long, high-knee strides. Johnson proved his point, however, with four Olympic and eight World Championship golds, and in 1996 he became the only athlete to win gold in both the 200m and 400m at an Olympics. His style was all about short, fast, swift ‘drives’ backward to push the body forward.

Without question the most impactful track athlete of recent times has been Bolt, with eight Olympic and 11 World Championship gold medals. Once again, his style was distinct, with his 6 foot 5 inch frame honed to move in the most efficient fashion. Slow motion footage of the Jamaican in full flight shows him almost floating above the ground, with his legs out-stretched and ‘cycling’ between a spike powered pull from ahead to a longer drive behind, and feet seeming to just touch the ground to maintain momentum. Bolt was said to have had scoliosis of the spine in his early years, but worked on that to reduce the imbalances, and his more symmetrical style led to faster times.

APPLIED TO MARATHONS
But these are all short distance events, where hundredths, if not thousandths of a second can split gold from silver, and years are spent honing style. Meanwhile, the myth still exists that changing style is either a mistake, or unachievable, for distance runners. The reality is that in the early years of running, taking minutes off the world record distances was relatively easy, which meant improvements could be achieved through physiological improvement.

Thus the marathon World Record dropped by 10 minutes in the decade from 1950 to 1960. However, it dropped just 28 seconds between 1970 and 1980, and despite it being a highly competitive and financially rewarding era, only two minutes were shaved off the record in the 11 years from 2003 to 2014. Then last month Kipchoge slashed 78 seconds from the record in Berlin, taking it down to 2:01:39.

The point is that in distance running there are diminishing returns from physiological training, whereas the two greatest areas of potential are belief/psychology and efficiency. When Kipchoge ran 2:00:23 in the contrived environment of the Nike Sub-2 Project in Italy, he proved to himself that his body could handle going under two hours. It is simply about getting the correct conditions on the correct day. But it also highlighted the importance of efficiency of style, and if you do an internet search of historical footage of Kipchoge, you will see the evolution of a running style that has been honed to a close-arm action, forefoot striking and backward driving cycle that now maintains good body position throughout a two-hour 42km effort.

Thus a slow motion view of his style in Berlin shares the same principles of Bolt’s running, except there is little forward strike. The foot touches the ground just slightly ahead of the centre of gravity and the high knee, then drives back to propel the body forward. The high ‘bum-kicking’ fold of the leg makes for a short lever, which can then turn over at a high cadence to allow for the next propulsive stride. The arms drive behind but are kept close, fast and aligned to shoulder and chest (perhaps the most obvious progression of his style) to minimise any over-striding. Finally, the position is all held together by the strength of core and enhanced by the shoe design which promotes a forward lean and rearward drive.

PROOF IN THE RESULTS
Efficiency is now a massively decisive factor in long distance running, just as it was in the progression of sprint distances, and middle distances. Put into perspective, Kipchoge’s marathon improvement equates to a two-second improvement over 1500m, or eight seconds over 5000m, where fine-tuning efficiency has been proven to pay dividends. The take-home message here is that improvement is achievable by every runner, but it’s not going to be honed by simply stacking up the distance in training. Improvement will be through efficiency, first by dropping distance and then reducing imbalances, building core strength and developing a more efficient style with improvements in proprioception, cadence and greater ground contact force per stride.


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 www.coachnorrie.co.za.

IMAGE: Courtesy Berlin Marathon