The Mandela Marathon- Walkers can enjoy it too!

By: Mary O’Gorman

I took part in the 10km walk at the 100 year centenary celebration Mandela Marathon this year. It was the biggest event I have competed in so far as there were 24 000 entrants in the distances – 42kms, 21kms and 10kms combined.

From the very start, the message spread that it was a special race. There were posters in the streets and radio announcements in the build up to race day which made the race seem very significant.  At the race pack collections, there were huge posters with pictures and quotes from Mandela and clips of his speeches were being played.

Because of the vast number of entrants, there were challenges caused by having to queue for everything but the atmosphere of the race made up for that.  Waiting in that huge crowd at the start was quite fun as Jaluka music was being played and everyone started ‘dancing’ on the spot to the music. When we all sang the National anthem, it was emotional and some even shed a tear.

The stream of luminous race T-shirts during the race were visible for miles as far as the eye could see on the winding country roads.  The scenery is spectacular with challenging up-hills most of the route and we 10kms participants enjoyed the well-stocked water tables (before they ran out of supplies later).

What made the event memorable was the large number of supporters along the route. They cheered, clapped and sang as we passed.  By the time we reached the Mandela monument at the end, we felt elated.

Walkers should certainly grab this rare opportunity that this event provides to experience this level of crowd support and the feeling of comraderie amongst the entrants!

Running my own race- The Mandela Half Marathon

By: Sarah- Lee Naidoo (21 years old)

5324cfde-6901-4a8e-9b02-280bfb868cd7.JPGAs a new member of Stella my fitness levels have steadily improved.

Thanks to the club’s weekly training schedule, which includes various training routes, my running techniques have improved, and I am definitely feeling fitter and stronger.  I have completed three 21km races and my latest achievement was the 21Km Mandela Marathon, which was the toughest race to date.  My finishing time was 2h24min. It was a challenging race which consisted of many up hills. However, in the weeks leading up to the race, Stella’s hill training equipped me well making the race manageable and enjoyable.

Stella has taught me to run my own race and do it to the best of my ability. The camaraderie amongst club members definitely motivates one and prepares you for the next challenge.

Larson Time Trial League – Westville AC

By Therese Hurly

2c5ff06c-cbc8-4938-979c-b2c8873b5704.JPGIt was so good to have had a wonderful Stella presence at the Westville Time trial league race on Tuesday 21 August.

Cool nights might make people want to stay home, but they are perfect for running and walking.

The two walking teams, led by Michael, their styles perfected by Frankie, are all very motivated, and are still on top of the walking league ladder.

Having some good runners now as well, we feature quite prominently on the running charts – with most categories represented.

The beginning of the year started off badly for Stella running teams – with only one or two runners in the men’s and women’s teams for Queensburgh and Savages time trials. Since then, thanks to the committee for their encouragement, and Stella stars, more runners are joining us.

There is a really good spirit at the time trials, and it is always a lovely change running in a different area with lots of people running along the way; the serious runners, the jokers and the moaners who are relieved afterwards that they did it.

Everyone doing Westville time trial had heard about Heartbreak Hill  there was a lot of talking about it along the way, and the whole run was geared towards conquering the hill the last 750 m, which left us all with a great sense of accomplishment at the end.

Hoping all Stella members can join in these enjoyable races. The next race is on 20 September at Sydenham, there are some challenging hills there and it is also a very enjoyable route.

Choc Walk up Sani Pass

By: David Thurlby (14 years old, Junior Stella Member)

We approached the mountain ahead of us that was soon to be our challenge. We were representing CHOC and Stella. We had felt the cold the night before but the morning of the race we woke up to the amazing view of the challenge that stood before us. The start was whenever we were ready, then we got going. The snow got thicker and thicker the higher up we climbed. Many people participated but this felt very much like a family trip. The walk altogether was a journey to be remembered and to be retold. We got close to the big rock that was said to be opposite the highest pub in Africa. Which felt like the longest time. We had an amazing experience, from snowball fights to meeting new people. It wasn’t a race, it was an experience for everyone that went. It was amazing in many ways and will definitely be on my list of future events.

 

2018/19 Chairman’s Welcome

In July the 2018 Annual General Meeting was held in the Den. The out-going Chairman, Derek McMaster, reported on another successful year for Stella Athletic Club. He also announced that he would not be standing for re-election. As they say, the only things that you can be sure of in life are death and taxes. I would like to add ‘change’. It is important to embrace change and it was with this enthusiasm that the first monthly committee meeting of the new term was held. The first task that needed to be tackled was the nomination of the new committee and the appointment of office bearers. The process went extremely well with various skilled people being nominated to and accepting positions. For the success of any organisation it is important to have the right skills being utilised in important positions, and this was certainly evident in all the positions. With such a competent team in place I had no hesitation in proudly accepting the position of Chairman. Kevin Hendrikse was nominated and accepted the position of Vice-Chair. The full list of the committee members and their portfolios will soon be on the board in the Den. This year we have decided to also put up photos of the committee members so that club members can put a face to a name (You can view the new team here).

Managing a non-profit organisation like a sports club is a challenge. It is made more difficult by financial challenges and the general competition for resources. A club is made up of an extremely diverse group of people, with every member equally important to us and it is our duty to ensure that we offer an environment that allows all our members to run in a supportive and friendly environment. A successful club will balance these issues correctly.

As I mentioned above finances play an important role in the successful operation of any club. Whilst it is an unfortunate fact that the economy is under stress at the moment, what we can count on is the fact that every Stella member has specific skills that if tapped into could greatly assist in the successful operation of the club. We would greatly appreciate it if the members could offer these skills to the club for all Stella endeavours so that available finances can be utilised to develop our athletes and create a club environment that all members can enjoy. If all that you can provide is your labour that will also be greatly appreciated.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the two departing committee members. Thanks to Derek for his commitment to ensuring that the Athletics Section and its interests were well looked after. Thank you to Tanya for her firm grip on the section’s finances and particularly her management of the bar. Both of their efforts have gone a long way to ensuring that the club remains on a firm financial footing.

We look forward to a very busy year ahead. As a committee we are already planning events that will not only entertain members but also raise vital funds for our club. The Stella Royal 25 / 10 km race is also already on the planning board. We are searching for sponsors that will allow us to put on a memorable race and would like all members to make a concerted effort to highlight opportunities that the committee could explore. With competition for such money so tight please provide either Kevin or myself with the names and contact details of potential sponsors and we will make the necessary approaches.

In summary the purpose of any committee is to advance the interests of an organisation’s members. We promise to faithfully do so and I urge you to approach anyone on the committee if you have any challenges or concerns regarding the club.  Together we can ensure that Stella remains one of the premier athletics clubs in KZN and South Africa.

Stella Stars are bright as we stick together.

Regards

Dave Beattie

Stella Athletic Club Chairman

Dave compressed

Dave Beattie Chairman  082 378 5655

Cut at the Knees

By: Nokuthula Dubazane

A colleague asked me about my experience of running Comrades. I responded and said it is like going into war and seeing your fellow soldiers fall without knowing how to help, it’s the most painful experience I have ever felt but yet the most fulfilling thing I have ever done. One thing I know for sure is that Comrades challenges everything you think you know about yourself.

Pietermaritzburg 04:00 – 05:30

The morning felt like first day of school, I had never been so nervous and emotional in my life. Standing in that seeding pen, alone, I immediately noticed a lady who like me was standing on her own, she had tears in her eyes, and I gave her a hug and assured her that we ‘team novice’ would be fine. She responded and said “I just want it to be over”, that was an emotional moment which brought tears to my face as I could relate.

Lion Park 07:24:41 – Drummond 10:58:59

I got to 20km with the most excruciating pain in my calves, luckily I saw friends, got teary, sprayed my calves. I pushed for 10km to another friend who massaged which relieved the pain for a bit. When I got near halfway I just cried, I wanted to quit I was not sure I could do it. I pushed through and just after 50km had the physiotherapist strap my one leg, a relief to push for about 10km until the pain came back so did the tears.

Pinetown 14:22:50

With 20km to go I resisted getting another massage and I told myself, I had to get over it and push through. I knew I had lost time and had already been passed by the first 12 hour bus. At that point I was depleted, going up Cowies Hill I pulled my buff over my face and cried as I saw my Comrades dreams perish. Until a little voice within me said “You have been strapped, sprayed and massaged, get over it and push through.” I did just that, the vision was clear, first go past 12 hour bus then get to Moses Mabhida. After that, I pushed through and finished strong.

Durban 17:04:04

I finished Comrades with tears in my eyes, it was surreal. I closed my eyes briefly took it in and thanked God for carrying me through. I felt so much pain on that day, my mind bailed and can never thank my friends and the club enough for the support, hugs and food along the way. The highlight of all this madness, has been my lovely mother who said while she doesn’t understand the things I do ‘uyaziqhenya ngami’.

Rejoicing in the exhilaration of climbing up two summits in 46 days

By: David Mohale

Few weeks ago, I wrote a long post on Facebook about the parallels between a PhD journey and running the Comrades Marathon. For me personally, there are so many parallels. Notably, I did not register for the two voluntarily. My former supervisor at Wits University submitted my Masters’ dissertation at Unisa. The rest is history. I joined Stella AC either in late August or early September. Our own legendary Pat Freeman coaxed me to register for Comrades Marathon as a precaution. By that time, numbers were fast approaching 20000. At the time we had this conversation, I had not even run my first marathon. Again, the rest is history.

I will not get into the details of my post. However, it is important to try to bring the reader into my shoes. Motivation is not always innate. My greatest challenge was, therefore, to overcome the mind lethargy that resulted from my involuntary registration of these two envious summits. And this was not a stroll in the park, especially as the experienced in these two fronts tend to be boastful. I do not think they are aware so they could be forgiven.

I ran my first marathon in Vaal on the second weekend of September. Luckily, Pat Freeman had cautioned me about the effects of altitude. Had she not, I could have easily considered quitting. Be that as it may, completing the first marathon in 4:05 is apparently not bad. Soon after that I joined Stella’s Saturday long runs. I still remember that my first was 24km run to Westville. I ran with Kevin and Tawanda that day, keeping quiet while listening to their conversation, with topics ranging from their past runs, the economy and politics. I had to pretend that I was enjoying the run although it was tough for me. The second long run was 32km run up to Cowies Hill. I ran with Justin and Mark on the day and they also shared their Comrades Marathon experiences. Listening to them, I was convinced that I would not achieve the feat of completing Comrades Marathon in a lifetime.

Organisational studies emphasise the importance between organisational culture and individual behaviour. In this respect, individual attitudes and capabilities are not enough; they are a subject of the dominant climate created through formal rules and informal behaviour of its members. I am proud to say that Stella’s organisational culture is so positive that many of us, as novices, never experienced the kind of negative welcome that some novice runners would speak of elsewhere. I suppose this explains why the membership of the club seems to be on exponential growth. With the warm welcome of almost everyone at the club, the mind started to believe in the reasonable prospect of completing this ultimate human race.

From the bottom part of my heart, I wish to thank everyone at the Club for making me believe in my running capability. As I said before, running is more than just that; it somewhat epitomises what humanity should be about. This became evident on the day of the race when I woke up with an unbearable pain on my left knee. Alex Haddad helped me to forget about the pain until 25km. Later on, I caught up with Darren Smith, and they clearly looked bushed. Darren had the best words ever: “This is my 5th Comrades; it’s your first. You deserve a good time. Go and have fun”. In one of the many last short runs we did as the Club, Darren also shared tips on eating times on the day of the race. For the first time I accepted advice without a modicum of doubt and his advice worked perfectly for me. The support and words of encouragement from Stella Stars at our tables and along the road made the weight of running lighter.

In closing, the medal may be recorded in my name but I wish to dedicate it to Stella AC for being so professionally organised and for being a home for me, personally. I will forever be eternally indebted to the Club for making this personal historic feat possible. 2018 has, without a shadow of doubt, been my best year, with my graduation in Phd on 25 April and another PhD in running on 10 June 2018. It was not easy but it was done.

LCHF – Fueling our bodies in a new way

By: Roger Scholtz

d587a4fc-4a79-4975-b14d-e2726e57a339On Thursday 3 May, Stella AC hosted an information evening that was addressed by Dr Glen Hagemann, a sports physician at the Sharks Medical Centre. His presentation was entitled “Low carb, high fat diets in elite and recreational endurance athletes.” The basis of the presentation is that the conventional wisdom of the importance and necessity of eating a carbohydrate-rich diet for athletic performance is being questioned and challenged. Increasingly, scientific studies and compelling anecdotal evidence suggest that a LCHF (low carb high fat) diet represents a more efficient alternative for fueling our bodies’ energy needs. Dr Hagemann’s stated objective was to present some of the evidence behind this approach to diet and nutrition, not to tell anyone what they should do, but so that people might be better informed as they consider their own dietary choices.

At the core of the LCHF approach is the understanding that in a low-carb environment the body is capable, over time, to adapt to burning fat as an immediate energy source, which is referred to as becoming “fat adapted”. One of the key advantages and benefits of this is that body fat is available in an abundantly more plentiful supply than the glycogen reserves (the energy source produced by carbohydrates) that can be stored in our muscles and liver. (This abundant supply of body fat is especially true for some of us!) The LCHF approach conditions our bodies to be able to tap into this bountiful energy reserve. A helpful analogy was given of a petrol-driven truck pulling a tanker of diesel, with the observation made that if the truck could find a way to access and use the diesel it was pulling around, it could continue driving almost indefinitely.

The presentation included a helpful mix of the science behind this approach, some of the latest research data to emerge in this field, and anecdotal stories of athletes (both elite and recreational) whose performance in endurance events like Comrades, Two Oceans and Iron Man have improved significantly on a LCHF diet. The down-side to a LCHF diet involves the tough lifestyle choices of changing the way one eats, having to say ‘No’ to things like the bread basket, sugary drinks and snacks, grains and pasta, and even (maybe) beer! The upside is that the strip of fat on your rump steak can be enjoyed guilt-free – not to mention other common benefits such as weight loss, added energy and improved running performance.  At the end of the day, everyone needs to decide for themselves whether this particular fuel price has gone up or down, and whether or not they are willing to reconfigure their body’s internal combustion engine.

Many thanks for a highly informative and worthwhile event.

Mandarin Teacher and His Running Stories- The Rising Sun Chatsworth Ultra

By: Chuanwei Wang (Smile)

Joining Stella Athletic Club is probably the best decision I have made this year. Running with the club always highlights my day. That is why I make all my efforts to run with the Club.

One of the running mates Darren, who became my coach now, promised to arrange a lift to Chatsworth Marathon. Darren, Mark, Candice, Alex, Dimitri and I would be running together. Therefore, I gave up my original plan to run Durban City Marathon, which is too flat and boring. Chatsworth Marathon is famous for its numerous hills. The moment when you climb to the top of a hill, a downhill is waiting for you to conquer. Since we all had qualified for Comrades, we agreed to run Chatsworth as a training run for Comrades instead of a race.

As instructed by Coach Darren, I was up early on the morning of 22 April and battled to eat the last three toasts left in the fridge. Worrying about getting hungry at the end of the race, I grabbed another three handfuls of jungle oats and I could eat no more.We met up by Darren’s apartment after Mark fetched Dimitri and me. We all went in Alex and Candice’s car. We were off in the direction of Chatsworth, Alex driving and Mark directing.

Alex parked his car by the finish, the Chatsworth Stadium. While we were heading to the start, one Stella member was jumping and clapping his hands above his head to warm up.  I thought he was waving to us, I embarrassedly waved to him.

The start was simply decorated. My friends in China are always fussy about how casual the start is in South Africa. A banner with the name of race was hung up by a machine, no year printed. The Chatsworth Athletic Club probably reuses the banner for years, which is environmentally friendly and should be encouraged. So far, not many participants had arrived. A bunch of Stella members were gathered for a group photo.

2018-04-27-PHOTO-00000042.jpgThe South African Anthem was played and sung at around 5:20am. At 5:30am the start siren went off, and everyone immediately began to run. Many ran so fast. “If you go first, you lost.” Remembering what Coach Darren told me, I just stuck with  him. The first part of the route went through the residential areas of Chatsworth, but there wasn’t lots of crowd support as it was described in the event description.

The sun started to come up around 6:30am when we were running a downhill. Amazed by the view, I took out my phone, trying to take a rising sun photo. “Smiley, really?” I heard a sound from behind. I recognised  it as the voice of Nana from Stella. I knew what she meant is that I shouldn’t take photos while I am running.  Embarrassed, I put my phone into my waist bag and kept running. By the next downhill, I saw the sun rising above the horizon. I was thinking that the marathon is called “Rising Sun Chatsworth Freedom Marathon”,  how can it be done without a photo of the rising sun? Hence, I couldn’t help taking out my phone again and stood still for a second to take a quality photo of the rising sun.

2018-04-27-PHOTO-00000047.jpg

Coach Darren, Mark, Candice, Alex, Dimitri and I were running together. Dimitri was ahead of us from time to time, and finally out of our sight. The rest of us slowed down the pace if there was a big hill and picked up some pace afterwards. The ones who went ahead would slow down to wait for those who were left behind. “Whoop whoop” is often shouted, which I was told that it means here comes the hill.

The sun was climbing higher and higher. We drank water or coke at every water table to avoid dehydration. Salted potatoes and oranges were served as well. Candice and I both could not have salted things when we were running.

At around 28kms, Mark felt it was very hard to pick up his pace if he waited too long. Candice thought it should be fine if Coach Darren and Alex were running together. Therefore, the three of us ran at our pace, leaving Coach Darren and Alex behind us.

2018-04-27-PHOTO-00000044.jpgA special treat for the ultra marathon is to run through the scenic Silverglen Nature Reserve. At the beginning of the reserve, an uphill with about 75 degrees slowed down every runner. Nobody ran up to the top of the hill. The rest of the route in the reserve is relatively easy with lots of downhills. A snake was spotted by Mark and Candice in the reserve. We were running at an easy pace so that I got a chance for sightseeing and taking photos.

2018-04-27-PHOTO-000000512018-04-27-PHOTO-00000048When we went on to the hilly highway from the reserve, Mark dropped his pace. Candice and I were running a little bit ahead of Mark. I invited Candice to push ourselves for the last three kilometres. She said she would definitely push herself but after me and she asked me to go by myself. Feeling lots of energy left, I picked up my pace and started to sprint.

At the 51km sign, a marshal saw me running fast and said “It is like your last kilometre in a 10km race!”  I passed everyone in front of me and managed to move my way into the Chatsworth stadium. Crowds were lined up by the two sides of the entrance and shouting for every runner. Getting excited by seeing the track and field ground which I used to race at for years when I was still in university in China, I pushed myself even harder to cross the finish line. Everyone by the finish line was cheering for me. A warm welcome was given by a lady from Stella who finished her 21k.

Later Candice, Mark, Coach Darren and Alex arrived successively. Another group photo was taken afterwards for some Stella finishers.

2018-04-27-PHOTO-00000046.jpgI felt that Chatsworth Ultra Marathon was the easiest race I had ever done due to easy pace. However, some thought that it was the toughest race and even harder than Comrades. Completing the ultra marathon did make me happy and gave me a certain amount of confidence, a distance that is closer to Comrades.

Many thanks to Coach Darren, Mark, Candice and Alex for their companionship, guidance and encouragement. The next training run before Comrades will be the 55km route tester on 5 May. I am looking forward to running with my mates again.

“I run not because I want to live longer, but because I want to live life to the fullest. ” says Haruki Murakami, a Japanese writer and runner, and I agree with that.

Smile has written a longer version of this article in Chinese.

You can read that article on his own blog here

Fun at Parkrun

By: Roger Bailey

29983423_10216054104805340_5616207277103332316_o.jpgI suppose racking up 50 Parkruns (which I achieved at North Beach on 14 April 2018) is a minor milestone of a sort and I must admit to a small glow of satisfaction on eventually “earning the T-shirt”.  I now no longer feel like a novice when mixing it with the literally hundreds of runners and walkers who sport 50s or 100s on their running shirts on the promenade on Saturday mornings.

Stella members might have noticed that I have not exactly been a regular at Gillies runs on Saturday mornings over the years; coffee and the newspaper in bed in the morning have long exerted an irresistible pull. But with advancing years making their presence increasingly felt in the shape of steadily slower training paces and race times, it was time for action. So, from April last year Parkrun has filled my need for a regular, short, sharp race to keep my pipes open and heart pumping.

North Beach Parkrun has a lot going for it.  It is probably one of the fastest Parkrun courses anywhere, the promenade is wide, flat and made for racing, and it regularly attracts the largest number of participants; more than 2000 most Saturdays and a worldwide record of over 2500 a few weeks ago.

And it is very well organised – off we go at 08h00 sharp heading south from Suncoast, down the gentle slope past Circus-Circus and on to the hairpin turn-around point at South Beach, then the fun of trying to maintain pace on the return leg, where we old dogs usually make up places and time against the field, then the final sprint for the line at Suncoast.  Of course, one doesn’t have to race – there are plenty of joggers and walkers, lots of family groups, and plenty of dogs taking their owners for a stroll.

After a while it gets in the blood, and most of the regulars turn up most Saturdays.  From Stella, we have Pat Fisher, with well over 200 runs to her name and Pat Freeman with more than 100. Therese Hurly, also with more than 100 runs, usually shows me a clean pair of heels these days and Arthur Zimmerman always ranks highly in his and my age-group category.  And there are dozens of long standing acquaintances from other running clubs, as well as more than a handful of new friends made at Parkrun, all doing our best to bust each other’s guts.  In fact the element of competition is remarkable.

Is it doing me any good?  It must be. And I no longer have any problems getting out of bed early on Saturday mornings.