SAPS Striders Heritage Challenge – More than just a Half-Marathon

By: Bronwyn Blades

I ran this race as my first ever half- marathon in September 2015, under a temporary license and always wanted to come back and do it again. Having recently joined Stella Athletic Club, and under the watchful eye of Dave in his Running Newbies group, I decided I was ready to take on the half-marathon again this year.

The registration process was somewhat disorganised, over both Friday and Saturday, which lead to many questioning how things were going to go on race day. However, Sunday morning dawned overcast and quite warm by comparison to recent weeks. The race venue, Kings Park Athletic Stadium, was well laid out and Dave, Sean and Sandy had put up the Stella Gazebo ahead of time. We noticed though that there didn’t seem to be as many participants as in previous years, which was disappointing considering that this race is flat and fast, and should therefore be accessible to most runners.

I was nervous lining up at the start, realising that this was quite a bit further than I had run recently. The race was a two lap event, starting in Masabalala Yengwa Avenue, doing a short loop on that road, before heading down to the beach front via Blue Lagoon. The turning point was along the beach promenade, just past the SAPS police station. For me, it was quite tough mentally to know that I had to do the same lap twice – I think I prefer a point to point race. Dave was a star! He kept a steady pace, encouraged me along the way and just kept me going. I am not sure I would have made it without him but I was so delighted to finish!

This race was always going to more than just a half-marathon to me. Shortly after I ran it in 2015, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I finished treatment last year and since then have been determined to get back to where I was in 2015. So for me, Sunday represents a milestone. I am two years older, a little heavier, and probably a lot slower – but I am back. Healthy, happy and on the road again.

Thank you Stella for being so welcoming and supportive and especially to Dave – I couldn’t have done it without you!

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