Making it happen!

The lockdown due to the epidemic has caused worldwide havoc triggering everything to come to a grinding halt. Who would have thought a few month’s ago that there would be silence – no working, no socialising, and no sport. Almost like a sci-fi movie, which is quite scary. For sports lovers it was crazy not to watch any live coverage or participate in sport, as event after event was cancelled. Comrades was no exception, and it was heart breaking especially for novices who would have experienced the “Ultimate Human Race” for the first time on the 14th June. Having the virtual Comrades was a good initiative allowing thousands to experience the sensation of being a part of the brand. The shorter options were popular, especially having limited training. But there were those that went the full hog, even though it will not be officially recognised, but “in for a penny, in for a pound”. One such Stella athlete who would have lined up as a novice, did the 90k journey and deserves kudos for a brilliant effort.

Greg Conti, along with his mate Richard Jenkin ran from Glenwood through Berea, Morningside down to the beachfront, and along the promenade and back again, four times over! The journey was completed in under eleven hours to family and friends cheering them home. To do this on your own in a sense, with not experiencing the vibe of spectators lining the route throughout, no Big Five but the same training route four times is quite impressive.

Hats off Greg, this is an amazing achievement and gutsy, you “Dared to Dream” and you did it! Next year you will fly down to Durban and into the stadium with thousands welcoming you home! We salute you.

Lockdown Diaries – Debbie Wessels

Debbie

 

If I had been told three months ago that I would be running around my garden for fun, I would have laughed… but here we are! To say that the lockdown has taught me new things about running and digging deep is an understatement.

Where do I start? Well, I guess that I realise that nothing will stop me from running. I know you Stella Stars feel the same! But running in small confined spaces takes some getting used to (now I know how hamsters feel) and has unique challenges, but also privileges.

If you have the privilege of a garden to do your hamster thing in, you will know the challenges that can come with it: slower times, which is always a disturbing fact for us runners – especially when we (okay, I mean me) were slow to start off with; sore ankles and knees from turning so often; and having your spouse keep coming out to see if you’re okay. Old boy, be grateful I didn’t trade your car in for a treadmill!

Some of our Stella Stars have completely lost it and have run marathons and ultra-marathons in their gardens (I look forward to reading your stories). I really admire you guys and girls, but I think that’s a special kind of crazy… oops, I mean commitment! I’m sure you’re still dizzy from going around and around and around!

However, there are definitely benefits of garden running. Firstly, it’s close to the loo! YAY! This is a biggie for us girls! Running around my garden also made me realise that the run is about more than just the exercise and the speed and keeping the kilos under lockdown. It’s about the experience and literally stopping to smell the roses. I had time to appreciate all the butterflies that were visiting my garden, the dragon flies that suddenly appeared, and a slug which I’m glad to say was slower than me!!! When last did you see a friendly slug in your garden? I say friendly because he didn’t seem to mind me chatting to him every time I passed him. I’m sure he was getting irritated but he didn’t seem to be going anywhere in a hurry either! Speaking of cute animal companions, my little old sausage dogs have been my biggest support team during my garden runs. They’re always ready with a bark to spur me on!

Lastly, running around my garden has made me realise how much I appreciate and enjoy running with all of you Stella Stars, and I really look forward to being able to do that again in the hopefully not too distant future.

In the meantime, I pray that our Lord will keep you and your families safe as we go through these challenging times together!

P.S. My new running theme song is Queen’s “I’m Going Slightly Mad” and there you have it!

Chairman’s Chirp

By Dave Beattie

Hello fellow Stars

It’s hard to believe that we are already in mid-March, dusting ourselves down after having successfully hosted the Stella AC leg of the Time Trial League in February and our Marshalls World of Sport Stella Royal in early March. Both events were massively successful and certainly reinforced the club’s position as one of the premier athletic clubs in KZN. Neither of these events would have been possible without the fantastic team that we have. To Kevin and his core team, thank you for your dedication to the club. To anyone who helped in any way, thank you for your valuable time and effort. The Marshalls World of Sport Stella Royal would also not have been possible without our core sponsor Marshalls World of Sport and the involvement of Discovery Vitality. Thank you to them and all our sponsors for supporting us in very difficult economic times. We are not letting grass grow under our feet and are already planning to make the 2021 race even better.

We are entering a very important training period for all those athletes who are running Comrades this year. The training will be ramped up and there will be a wide variety of long runs available to our members. Sandy will keep you all informed of all the weekly training options available. The Weekend Warriors will not be neglected during this time though. We will be putting on shorter routes for the runners not doing Comrades, but training for shorter races.

Last month at the Hillcrest 42 / 21 kilometre race there was an outcry on social media about the littering during the race.  As runners, we are blessed to run races in the most beautiful parts of our country, and it is therefore totally unacceptable that our environment is abused in that way. KZNA has vowed to clamp down on littering by disqualifying the perpetrators. As Stella AC we need to take the lead in this regard and ensure that we are not a contributor to the littering problem. I would be very upset if I were to be notified of any Stella athlete who had been seen littering during a race. I believe that we all have a responsibility to call out fellow Stella athletes who litter. This is the only way that we are going to stop this unacceptable practice. The committee will not hesitate to take the appropriate action against any athlete who brings our club into disrepute by being caught littering. Please feel free to report any such sightings to anyone on the committee and we will take the appropriate action.

We are all aware of the impact that social media has on the speed at which information travels. Within minutes thousands of people could see a post. Whilst this has its advantages it is the disadvantages that I would like to focus on. Posting something without forethought or in anger can have serious consequences. Bringing this concept back to club level I urge all members to refrain from posting opinions or comments that could bring the club into disrepute. If any member has a grievance or concern about any club or running matter, they are requested to approach a committee member about the issue.  The matter will be investigated, and prompt feedback given. As with the littering situation, any inappropriate social media posts could result in the member being brought before the committee to explain their actions.  As a committee, we would like to avoid any such unpleasantness.

For those members who do not come to the club on a regular basis, I am excited to announce the opening of our new Den. A lot of time and effort was put in by all concerned to get the project completed and Den opened before our race. The project is not finished yet and small improvements will continue to be made over the coming months. Members are welcome to send the committee any ideas that they feel would further add to the look or functionality of the Den. We will shortly be launching a competition in which members will be asked to come up with a name for our Den.

To finish on a positive note, it is fantastic to see all the new members who are running at our club nights. New faces are vital for keeping a club on an upward trajectory. Welcome to all those new members and we look forward to seeing you on the road.

Happy running.

How to avoid training burnout when training for a race

By Dr. Grant Matkovich 

The start of every new year gives a chance at a new beginning and even a ‘restart’. As runners the new year allows us to set new running goals, whether its new races, longer distances, going for PB’s or refocusing after an injury.

An important part of being able to reach your goal is to take the time out now to plan your training. Divide the months and weeks leading up to your event into phases. With each phase focusing on different parts of your conditioning to get you to race day in peak condition. This will help prevent overtraining. The symptoms of overtraining may include tired and heavy legs, slower running times or even injuries start creeping in.

Here is a basic guideline to help focus your training, so that you can avoid overtraining with the unwanted fatigue and injuries.

Phase one: Preparation Phase

This phase is aimed at easing back into training for 4-12 weeks, this should include easy aerobic conditioning and even a bit of cross training.

Goal of the phase:

To slowly improve your general fitness and being able to run at your comfortable pace.

What can be included:

  1. Easy club runs should be the focus during this period.
  2. Cross training may include cycling or swimming

Phase two: Base Training Phase

This phase is aimed at building a solid fitness base over 8 to 12 weeks. The focus is on slowly increasing your training intensity to develop a decent fitness level and to avoid injuries.

Goal of the phase:

To increase the endurance capacity of your fitness. Meaning that by the end of this phase you should be able to run longer distances at your comfortable pace.

What can be included:

  1. Increase the duration of your runs from your preparation phase, these should still be at a comfortable pace (60 -75% effort)
  2. Consider adding in one additional run per week into your schedule
  3. Occasional hill running, however this should be done at a lower effort to avoid injuries
  4. If you have any technique issues (running up/down hill; stride etc) this is the time to address them

Phase three: Building Phase

For the next 4-8 weeks the focus is on building on your base by increasing intensity and race specific training

Goal of the phase:

To increase your fitness and conditioning to be able to run at your desired race pace, but without the risk of constantly running at your highest levels.

At the peak of this phase you should be at your physiological peak. This is when you will be at maximum intensity of training. Shorter distance runners may be able to hold this peak for longer, however longer distance runners will not be able to. The peak of maximum intensity training should last 2 weeks.

What can be included:

  1. Add some tempo runs, runs which are at a slightly faster pace than your comfortable pace
  2. Fartleks and longer interval runs
  3. Runs on terrain like what you will be racing on
  4. Run that is close to or over your race distance, but at a lower intensity (slower than your race pace)

Phase four: Taper

The aim of the next 1-2 weeks is to allow the body to recover after the intense training whilst still maintaining fitness levels.

Goal of the phase:

To allow the body to recover after training so that you are in optimal condition on race day

What can be included:

Rest! This is a difficult phase as you feel strong and want to run, however you need to fight urges of wanting to train or doubts of feeling undertrained, trust your plan!

Shorter runs at a VERY comfortable pace are important.

Phase Five: Race

Phase Six: Recover

Remember to allow sufficient time to recover after your race. Runners are often back on the road way to soon after a race. Take time off and recover properly.

 

Other tips to avoid burnout when training:

1. Choose one race and make that race your priority

Choose ONE race as your goal and design your training schedule to that race. It is difficult to race many races without facing burnout and fatigue. When training for long distance and Ultra races it is hard to maintain your physiological peak for long periods of time due to the strain training places on your body. Choose one race that is your goal race, and make sure your training ‘peaks’ for that race.

 

2. Know your paces:

This might sound a bit obvious but is so often over-looked by runners. Know your comfortable pace, your tempo pace (Slightly faster) and your race pace (faster).

Likewise, realistically the pace of your club run, 10km, 21km and 42km pace can’t all be the same. Get to know what your comfortable pace is for each distance. When training allocate paces to your runs, irrespective of the distance you are running.

Race paces should be done very infrequently (Time trials etc). Tempo paces can be done more frequently. Allocate comfortable pace runs often, to allow your legs to recover especially a run after a hard run or hill session.

If you run every run at your fastest pace you will pick up injuries, varying your pace (to slower paces) allows your body to recover whilst still running!

 

3. Training runs are training runs:

Take training runs easy. Stop for water, chat, regroup. Its about time on your legs. Often runners use road races as training runs, which they plan to run slower. This is difficult as it is easy to get caught up in the atmosphere of the race. The other runners next to you pull you along often faster than you intended. The water table stop you from stopping for water. The crowd support on the side of the road can make you run a bit faster.

This often causes runners to run their ‘race’ on a ‘training’ run, because the legs have not recovered from the training run which was faster than planned.

 

4. Listen to your body

During training the body will get tired and feel heavy. There will be days when you will not want to get out of bed. That is normal during the Base training and Building phase of training. With the correct Taper phase, the body will recover. However, if your body is in pain and you have injuries or persistent niggles that are getting worse, you need to listen to your body. That is often a sign of over-training and fatigue. Often backing off on the intensity, modifying your training or a couple of rest days will do the trick in getting you back on track. Not listening to your body, however, might cause you to stop completely!

DIPPING UNDER 3 (Hippo Marathon)

By Siya Ngcobo

Siya

 

It had to happen! The barrier that had been on my mind since the beginning of 2020, I had no choice but to run a Sub 3 marathon. Runners might find it arrogant, but my mind was made up, I was going to go to Richards Bay on the 22nd of February 2020 and run a marathon in under 3 hours, so please allow me to share the best 2 hours and 55 minutes of my running life.

In August 2019 after the Mandela marathon, Gcina and I decided to go run Hippo Marathon in Richards Bay the following year because we had great reviews about the course, flat they said, they lied to us! There is no such thing as a flat marathon especially after 38km where a speed hump feels like a hill.

We left Durban on Friday at 12:04 and were at our destination in no time, collected and whined about not having plastic sachets on route, especially with 34° expected on race day. Oscar was kind enough to show us the route so we could strategize. I find it easier to run when I know what’s coming. At 6:20pm on Friday we did a 4km jog at 4:22/km to stretch our legs and get a feel of the roads and the air in Richards Bay, found the humidity not to be as bad as Durban, and that made me happy.  We got back to the hotel and prepared our drinks, but we had a challenge as no one was there to second us. Oscar was kind enough to find someone to do that job, but that was a disaster as we only met the guy 15 minutes before the start. He could not process the information fast enough to do an efficient job (we only met him at 27km for the first time), he popped up at 38km when I was expecting him at 32km, was already running on grit at that time but that caffeine GU gel was heavenly when I got it at 38km. Now this is how the whole race went.

The gun went and I said “Valar Morghulis”, Game of Thrones fans will know these words very well, but at that moment I was prepared for a battle, the battle of dipping under Sub 3. In racing terms, you only have to maintain 4:15/km for 42.195km to finish in 2:59:59, I had bigger plans than that. I had told myself that every part of the race must be like a training session, and had planned to replicate all my sessions in one race. As soon as the race starts you climb a monster 350m hill, my mind went into Hill repeat mode and I was done with it without any trouble, I knew that the next 13km was flat and undulating with gentle climbs popping up now and again, these gentle climbs became monsters in the second lap. The first half went well, I could stay at 3:55 without breaking a sweat and put the hammer down to 3:45 on gentle downhills. I had expected our guy to be waiting for us with the magic stuff at 12km, but “dololo” he was nowhere to be found, bought time and only took the GU gel I had with me after 15km, felt the magic as I crossed the halfway point at 1:22:50, climbed the 350m hill at 4:05/km and went on cruise mode trying to stay at 4:00/km.

My face lit up when I met our drinks man at 27km, took my second gel and decided to push a bit because I had expected to see him in the next 5km’s, but that was not the case. Went through the 30km mark in 1:59:35, that is when I knew that Sub 3hrs was in the bag, now it was a matter of how low can I dip under the magic figure, Sub 2:50 started to pop in my head but that all vanished when I got to 32km and did not get the most important gel in my race plan, I needed that high caffeine gel to turn me in to running lunatic. I did not know what to do, the temperature was rising with each stride, so I could overheat at any time and stop on the side of the road like an old Toyota (I drive one too). Decided to drop the pace to 4:30-4:35/km as I knew this would get me a 2:55 without much trouble.

Gcina came into this race carrying an injury, and when I started seeing him on the road, I knew he was in trouble, I ran with him for about 150m but he could not keep up, so seeing my running mate battle at a race messed up my head for a while but he told me to go, and that made me feel at ease with the decision of living him behind.

I got to 38km and I started to feel my legs getting heavier with each stride, it was getting hot, above 30° I reckon. I was in the dark hours, now the last 4km were a challenge but I started to think of the people who would be disappointed more than me if I did not get the Sub 3. I thought of my wife to be, my club Stella who have been supporting with kudos on Strava and just general encouragment, my head went back to a track session I did with a mad Surgeon Henry Van Niekerk, surely this last 4km is a breeze compared to that madness we did two weeks before Hippo. I do not remember the last 4km except asking people to move and leave the yellow line to me, I do not know what was that all about, but I just wanted to run in the yellow lane until I finished, and when I entered the finish point I said “Valar Dohaeris,” meaning “all men must serve.” I had served a 2:55:17 (2:54:43 official time) on a steaming hot day in Richards Bay, now let the “Chasing Silver” slogan take over in preparation for Comrades. I have dare to dream “Iphupho lam” and hope to achieve it.

Hillcrest Marathon 2020

By Kathryn Watt

Kathryn - photo

 

Sometimes it feels like joining a running club is not so dissimilar to joining a cult. And no time does this seem truer than when waking up long before dawn, squeezing into spandex and heading out into the dark to run an unreasonable distance, at an unreasonable hour, with excited hordes of other equally-brainwashed- spandex-clad folk.

The start

Standing amidst the throng of excited runners at the start of the Hillcrest Marathon,
alongside the formidable figures of Brad, Coenie, Matt, and Sean, I wondered if I was going to make it to the end of the 42.2kms that lay ahead. In the weeks preceding the marathon,  I had continuously considered downscaling my entry to the half marathon. My training had not been as rigorous or focused as it had been for my first marathon the year before, and I didn’t feel as well prepared. But the time for hesitancy had passed and, 15 minutes later than expected, the start whistle blew and the crowd jostled forward, tightly packed and wafting the scent of deep heat and sunscreen. In a few minutes we had crossed the start line and Sean and my race began.

Lap 1

At only 3 kms in I already needed an inconvenient toilet break, I was not the only one and the wait for the portaloo was excruciating as valuable minutes ticked by. The woman in front of me eventually rapped curtly on the portaloo door – I admired her bravado – and finally it was my turn. I felt a relief only runners know and eagerly headed back onto the road.

“Roll it, don’t push it” chanted the 2:30 pacesetter as he led his bus cruising downhill. “Roll it, don’t push it” I responded as I hopped aboard for a kilometre or so, the vibe of the bus pulling me along.

Sean and I ran sometimes a few metres ahead of, and sometimes a few metres behind the indomitable Sandy and Kirsty, both of whom were enroute to 21.1km. Sandy suggested that to save our energy for the second lap we try keep behind her. Dutifully I lessened my pace, and from that moment was sure never to pass Sandy. When Sandy slowed, I slowed and when she and Kirsty sped off into the distance I did not try to keep up. Sandy’s sage advice gave me permission to walk before I was forced by tiredness to do so, and I am certain this was the reason I took so much pleasure in the race and did not succumb to undue suffering on Lap 2.

We passed beneath the green canopy of a glorious avenue of trees, admired the manicured lawns and sweeping views of the Hillcrest mansions, shared smiles and words of encouragement with marshals, slurped coke mixed with water, and bit by bit watched the kilometres melt away.

I knew we were nearing the end of our first lap when we saw some of our favourite runners bounding down the hill we were battling up – they were already on their second lap and making great time. Ahead of the race, I had wondered if I would be tempted to turn off at the 21.1km mark, but on the day I cruised past the turnoff with no inclination to end my race.

Lap 2

As we began our second lap we were joined by a fantastic Save Orion runner who was
hoping to qualify for Comrades, we formed a mini-bus of our own and encouraged each
other onwards. This interaction led me to quietly hope that Sean and I too could complete our race in under 4hrs50mins.

It was starting to heat up, sweat ran down the back of my neck, and my hamstrings stung. Tired and shuffling slowly up yet another hill, a festive table of Chillie runners encouraged me to keep pushing and laughingly teased that “Stella got her groove back!”
I was surprised how little I minded running the same route twice as the second lap presented new sights, sounds and sensations (including a rather unpleasant pain in my hip).

In the final few kilometres as we walked what felt like the millionth hill, Sean and I came
across Tim – who is always such a friendly fellow to meet on the road. A persistent whistle blew from a pack of determined Hollywood Bets runners, and the 4.50
bus nipped closely at our heels. Now that I really believed we could finish under 4hr50mins I was fuelled by a jangle of nerves and unexpected determination. “All you need to do is stay ahead of that one bus” I thought.

The finish

We crested the final hill, pushed along the straight and then at last we were flying down the grassy slope towards the finish. I heard my name called out and looked up to find a row of green and gold figures cheering Sean and I on towards the end and before I had time to think we had crossed the finish line and our race was over.

My experience at Hillcrest Marathon left me filled with gratitude. Gratitude for fellow club members who celebrate each fellow runner’s achievements, no matter how small. Gratitude for all of the jovial marshals and the running community who make race day fun rather than daunting. Gratitude to Sandy and the other Stella veterans who offer expert running insight to us rookie runners. And gratitude to Sean for sharing the long run with me.

Membership 2020

Renewal

In an effort to streamline the membership registration process for 2020, we urge runners to make payment before January if possible.  The idea being that your licence number will be waiting for you with your receipt and a pre-populated ASA registration form for signature.

Licence collection is expected to take place from the first week in January.  A notice will go out.

Payments

Via EFT

STELLA ATHLETIC CLUB

220226     Account 6202 9283801 

Use your name & licence number as the reference   EG: sally2200  

OR at the club using ZAPPER or Cash

New Members

The 2020 ASA Application form can be downloaded off our website or we have a stock available at the club.  

Tania Waters or Pat Freeman are available at the club to assist or email

stellaathleticclub@gmail.co.za

Age Category Tags

Are available from Sean the barman at a cost of R10 a set

Message from the Chairman – 2019

By Dave Beattie 

So ends another extremely busy and successful year for Stella Athletic Club. In terms of judging the success of the year I have looked at the following criteria:

  • The achievement of goals by the club and athletes
  • The numbers of athletes who have signed up as members
  • The number of athletes who are active at races and spend time at the gazebo after races
  • The number of athletes who participate in the monthly Club Time Trial and the Time Trial League
  • The number of members who participate in club and fundraising events
  • The success of the annual Stella Royal 10 / 25 km race
  • Being innovative in the athletics space (i.e. trail runs)

2019 has been another big year for Stella AC. We started the year with Stella AC playing an important role in the Task Team that was formed to regain control of KZN Athletics on behalf of all runners. It was a very difficult time, but over the year under the guidance of Steve Mkasi, this Task Team has achieved its objectives and us the clubs and runners now again have a say in how the organization will be managed. KZNA will now go from strength to strength.

Stella AC is definitely heading in the right direction. Our numbers are growing and most importantly the majority of these new members are actively involved in our weekly activities. These new members bring a vibrancy to the club that must be sustained at all costs. We must remain good ambassadors on the road and in the community and never rest on our laurels. Stella AC must be a place where any passionate athlete can find a home. As a committee it’s important that we listen to the members ideas and comments so that we can remain relevant in the running community. At the same time members can play an important role in keeping the club sustainable by offering their time and skills to make the club a pleasant place to be.   

Big plans are being made for 2020. The Marshalls World of Sport Stella Royal in March will be part of the Discovery Vitality Series. This will mean that a 5km fun run will be added to the existing menu of 25km and 10km races.  With the logistical support of Discovery this race will be taken to the next level and we anticipate that the event will be a massive success. It is our aim to invest some of the profit made on this race in the renovation of the Den and the expansion of our Development Runner Program. We will put a request out for assistance from our members when it comes to the organization of any work-parties. 

With the Committee and members all pulling in the same direction I foresee a productive and hugely successful 2020. Most people will be looking forward to a rest over the festive season. The Club will be closed from 16 December until 7 January. Our first Club run of the new year will be on 7 January and the first Time Trial on 9 January. This will give the majority of you athletes time to rest up and come back refreshed and looking forward to a busy January running schedule. To those dedicated Comrades runners who are working on their base over the festive season I urge you to try get some quality rest. The hard months are still ahead and you need to be injury free to tackle them.

To all Stella members I would like to wish you and your families a blessed Christmas and trust that 2020 will bring you all health, happiness and success.

Stella Accolades – December Edition

Stella is a club of many talented athletes, and in varying degrees, not necessarily in speed, but also in endurance, grit, stickability and character. This month we asked two of our Stella legends to share their running stories and achievements with us.

Pat Freeman

I started running in 1988 at the age of 32, my son Douglas was two years old.   A friend of mine used to run and she encouraged me to try and train for a 10km race.  So I entered . . . Having never run before, I rushed out (in my north stars) not wanting to come last.  I completed the 10Km “Clicks” Ladies race –   in a time of 50mins. The time didn’t mean too much to me as there were so many people in front of me, I just didn’t want to be last.

I love a challenge, so roll on 1st half marathon,  the “Redro” 21km in Durban North  – again I rushed off on my own not wanting to be left behind, get lost or not knowing which way they went! –  1.52hr

The following year, my running club Dolphin Coast Striders, made a HUGE fuss of going to the Two Oceans Marathon 1989 – It looked so pretty and exciting and the experienced runners gave fun “pep” talks and described the route, and the challenges, I couldn’t wait!  Apparently, (a little inconvenient) I had to do a marathon in 4.15 to qualify for Oceans, so I entered my first marathon, the Besenol Marathon in Hillcrest (same route as today).  The distance didn’t bother me as much as the concern that I would not be able to run Two Oceans if I didn’t qualify.  So I hurried along and finished in 4.06hr.

Two Oceans came along and I loved the scenery – vibe and happy day on the road.  The cut off was 6 hours – I managed a 5.46hr. I was nearly a real runner! When I realized I could still walk after the race, I thought, surely Comrades could not be that difficult as I had the whole day to complete it!  So I entered … My first Comrades 1989 was a down run, I finished up with 10.25hr.  It changed my life!

My 31 year running career had started and I am lucky enough to still be on my feet and looking for a challenge or new experience.

Permanent numbers received:

  1.  1000km challenge  (completing 1000km of registered races in one calendar year) for 3 years running – Permanent Number 320
  2. Mont Aux Sources 50km Ultra Trail  (5 times)  Permanent number 151
  3. Two Oceans Permanent Number 1650   –   best time ever 5.24
  4. Rhodes 52km Ultra Trail – Permanent number 323
  5. Comrades Marathon –  Triple green 6883   –   best time ever 9.12

Completed 91 Standard Marathons including 4 international Marathons (favourite is New York) – Best Marathon time 3.43.

Completed 11 multi day Ultra Trails.

The MOST difficult 1 day trail I have ever done was the “Otto Grail of trails” – 42km

Completed 55 ultra-marathons (excluding Comrades)

I am forever grateful for the ability to run – no matter how strange my style or slow my pace

My happy place!

Louise Hucklesby

By Sandy Mullins

Some people have been part of the Stella tapestry and history for so long, that we don’t realise exactly what they have achieved in their running career. One such person, who has given so much to the club over the years, that she is Mrs Stella! So just to put you in the picture, the spotlight falls on Louise Hucklesby!

Her running career started in 1994 and she ran her first Comrades in 1995, in a time of 10.19. Her fastest time was 8.38. “With all the hectic training I did was lucky to run 5 sub 9’s”. Louise has completed 21 Comrades!

She has also run:

  • Thirteen Two Oceans, her first in a time of 5.21 and the fastest 4.54.
  • 70 marathons and 20 plus ultras

Louise has permanent numbers for Bergville, Pietermaritzburg, Buffs and Hillcrest. She also was fortunate enough to run the London Marathon in 2001 in Bruce Fordyce’s bus and had the pleasure of having Rory Stein (Madiba’s bodyguard) running with them.

PB’s

  • 5km  – 20.50mins
  • 10km –  42mins
  • 21km –  1.35
  • 42km –  3.19

Louise is passionate about running and loves assisting fellow athletes. She has been Chairperson of Stella and involved in the Committee for almost as long as her running career. She was one of the founders of the ladies time trial league, which in those days was sponsored by Nandos. The gents liked the idea so much that eventually the Time Trial League was formed and is still going today.  

“I have had the privilege of managing the KwaZulu-Natal teams going to SA Champs for Cross Country, 10km, 21km and 42km and also served on a few committees at KwaZulu Natal Athletics”.

Words of advice – “Consistency is key and then always keep running and life balanced”.

Stella is fortunate and definitely the richer for all the input and sacrifice that Louise has given and in so doing put Stella on the running map! Thank you Louise!!

The Authentic Athens Marathon 2019

By Alan Brunsdon

On Thursday 7 November 2019, our group of three runners set off to run the “Authentic Athens Marathon” in Greece. The Stella contingent of the group was Alan Brunsdon and Roger Scholtz.

The event commemorated and retraced the “original” marathon when, according to legend, a Greek soldier by the name of Pheidippides, in 490 BC, ran the 42 kms from the town of Marathon to Athens to announce the news of a great military victory over the Persians. According to legend when he arrived in Athens and announced the victory he promptly died of exhaustion – a feeling I can relate closely to!!

The event included a family run, 10km and the marathon which attracted 60 000 entrants from 110 countries, of which there were more than 100 South Africans!

We flew Emirates Airlines from Durban via Dubai to Athens. The race registration and expo was extremely well organized, as was the entire race.

On the Saturday before the race we did the tourist routine of visiting the Parthenon and Acropolis – this was the right option as we thought it best to do the walking whilst we still could! The sights and history of Athens go back centuries and are spectacular.

Race day arrived on Sunday together with cool cloudy conditions and temperatures of 21 degrees. There were five different collection points throughout the city of Athens that would take the 20 000 runners to the start of the marathon in Marathon. We arrived at our collection point, conveniently close to our Airbnb accommodation, at 06:00 to find numerous luxury buses waiting to take us to the start. We boarded very quickly and en-route a recording played through the bus PA giving us clear instructions as to what to expect on arrival at the start.

The starting area was well laid out with different coloured balloons marking the different starting batches etc. My starting batch as per my bib was purple – so all I had to find were the purple balloons! The race is run mat to mat so I set off at 09:28 while the front runners started at 09:00.

The first 5 kms were pretty easy but from there till 31 kms it was literally all uphill – a tough course! The water stations were very well stocked with drinks, dark chocolates and energy bars. The vibe on the road was great and crowd support good with the locals calling me “Bravo Bravo” even though my name was on my bib! Running in the South African flag colours certainly helps with crowd support and interaction with other runners. My SA flag running shorts earned the name ‘Faf shorts’ from many of the South Africans on the race!

The last 11 kms into Athens was a gentle downhill with lots of crowd support. The finish was into Panathenaic Stadium, the white marble stadium where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896. I finished in 5:58 even though the cut off was a generous 8 hours.

We returned home after a memorable Athens experience – definitely a marathon for the bucket list!