Magdalena breaks SA 800m record for 75 age category

By: Magdalena Tomlinson

6acc0df9-bf29-4a43-a3c8-8f010fd8806a.JPGMagdalena Tomlinson of Stella Athletic Club competed at the KZN Senior and Masters Track and Field Athletic Championships held at Kings Park Stadium on 23 and 24 February 2018. In the women age 75 category she won Gold in the 200metres Sprint event. In the 800 metres event she broke the SA Record by 25 seconds. This record had stood for over 15 years. The President of KZN Athletics, Mr Sello Mokoena, presented her with the Gold Medal.

A newspaper clipping below from the Rising Sun newspaper on Magdalena’s achievement



Hillcrest Marathon 2018

By: Travis Graham

I woke to the sound of drizzle at a quarter past TOO EARLY on the morning of Sunday the 11th February. Like many of my fellow participants, it was at that vulnerable moment that I was forced to wage an inner war against my shameful desire to slam the snooze button. Luckily on that day, the little common sense I have did prevail.  After first wolfing down a bowl of Jungle Oats, and then lubing, tubing, picking and sticking a variety of odd body parts, I was off into the progressively worsening rain in the direction of, the then still dark, Hillcrest.

At the intersection of Old Main and Inanda Roads, I was pleased to find that the rain hadn’t deterred many, or even dampened the usual lively spirit. A many hundred, if not thousand, strong field waited in anticipation. The Hillcrest Marathon, is a well-established local event that attracts many due to its key timing in the annual race calendar – it serves as an official qualifier for both the Comrades Marathon and the Two Oceans Marathon.

The double-lapper marathon route can, in essence, be divided into distinct quarters. Quarters 1 and 3, predominantly downhill through leafy Winston Park, and quarters 2 and 4, predominantly uphill on the way back to Hillcrest town center. The start of the run, although congested, went off without a glitch. The large field had plenty of space to regain order on its way down Old Main Road past the old Heritage Market. As we entered Winston Park, passing family supporters and local residents who had set up temporary camp outside their houses, I was filled with short-lived elation – “could running getting any better than this?”

Surprisingly for me, this happiness lasted throughout quarter 2, in spite of some sharp uphills (many of you will know the exact NASTIES I am referring to). I passed my own posse of family supporters at the Engen garage on Old Main Road, remembering to don the poses of some Kenyan or Ethopian marathon great, just in case they had their Instagrams on warm-up. A warm hug but no photography ensued. After munching on a fruit bar whilst nearing the halfway point, I rounded the Hillcrest corner at 21km for the start of the second trot down toward Winston Park.

Luckily, quarter 3’s downhills were sympathetic to my tiring sticks. I was able to bank some time with a quicker-than-planned quarter. This margin gain would soon prove critical as my legs, very quickly, began to shout like the EFF used to in parliament – pre Cyril.  No ‘honourable members’ these! At the end of the first quarter, I rounded the beaconed hairpin bend like a light-footed gazelle. This time around I was more like a Maersk oil tanker – I even saw the Marshall take a step back as I approached as she clearly feared being taken out.

The marathon’s new catchphrase, #Whatthehill, took on new gravitas as I dragged my legs (read: concrete) up the last hilly 11km stretch. I had to dig deep, like past the remaining oats deep! I eventually made it back up onto Old Main road. I passed my posse looking like Timothy Traddle – somehow this time, amazingly, they all had their Instagram’s in full force as I waddled by! I continued, gritted teeth, for the last 2km to the finish.

I crossed the finish line utterly exhausted and ravenous, but ecstatic to have my Ultra qualifiers under my belt, to be greeted by a warm Stella welcome and at the smell of some wicked brekkie buns!

Was it all worth it? …..HILL yeah!

#WhattheHILL Hillcrest 21 km

By: Kim Flack

Kim Flack Hillcrest 21Km

A few months ago if anyone had asked me to run 5 km I would tell them I could run and walk it only.  Once I got to running a full 5km I thought, well I could actually run 10km.  After running with the Stella Newbies for a few months I was able to run 13km.  Dave announced at one of our weekly runs he would lead a bus on the Hillcrest 21km and aim to finish between 2h:40min – 2h:45min.

I thought this could be quite fun and how much further than 13km was it really? Come the night before the race I was worried I wouldn’t wake up, checked the alarm a few times and when I heard the rain come down at 12:30am I was starting to panic a bit.
The run started off wet from the rains the night before and it did rain a bit in the beginning which was great to be cool, but I had wet socks and shoes from the get go – my pet hate!

But our bus was in good spirits and with Dave leading us I started to enjoy the run – even the few up hills in the first half.  Sean and Al pranking along the way and Dave always checking we were all ok, the rest of the team jovial – there were no worries.

At about 16km in my body felt like the end should have been near but with 5km left to go I told myself that there was only a park run left to go, only a park run left to go…
Then it dawned on me those lovely hills we so enjoyed running down until about halfway we were now having to climb to get to the end. With my ITB giving me warning signals I did end up walking unashamedly up some of those hills. But thanks to Dave and the rest of the Stella bus encouraging me all the way to the end I was elated to have finished my first 21km.

I intend to be stronger for the Deloitte Challenge and with all the advice from Stella members I know I will succeed!

On Running and Illness

By: Dr Anver Goga

We runners believe we are an invincible lot, immune from ills due to our fitness levels. Unfortunately we are just as prone to illness as everyone else, at times more so.

I am often asked, Doc, I have the `flu`; can I run? Can I sweat it out?

It is important to distinguish whether you actually have a simple cold or the dreaded influenza, which are quite different and caused by different viruses.

The common cold virus, most commonly caused by a group of viruses called Rhinovirus, affects us 3 – 4 times a year, causing an itchy nose, scratchy throat, itchy eyes and the sniffles. If these symptoms are mild and stay above the neck, don’t cause a fever then it is safe to run. You don’t need an antibiotic. Remember the common cold can become complicated with bacterial infections giving rise to sinusitis, ear infections and migrating down to your chest. Headaches, earaches, cough and yellow nasal discharge suggest this necessitating antibiotics and a longer duration of illness – running not allowed.

A completely different kettle of fish is when you have the actual flu virus, influenza virus. This usually comes around once a year, usually in April / May before the Comrades Marathon. The influenza virus affects the entire body; Fever, malaise, and especially for the runners, muscle soreness. The virus affects all muscles and can also affect the heart muscle leading to heart failure. Symptoms are above and below the neck. It is especially dangerous to run with the flu virus as running can further depress your immunity and raise the core temperature of the body facilitating spread of the virus. Running not advised.

So, how do we get these viruses?

We all know that when a symptomatic person sneezes and you are in close proximity, you are likely to inhale the virus. The virus is also spread by touch. An infected person who may be asymptomatic for up to 24hours after catching the virus spreads the virus by touching door knobs, gym equipment, escalator rails at shopping malls, eating utensils and fridge handles. By touching the infected apparatus ourselves we infect ourselves by touching our nose/ eyes.

How do we avoid getting colds and flu?

By frequent hand washing, especially after touching objects; avoiding people with the flu (easier said than done); by keeping your immunity high; avoiding work and domestic stress (again easier said than done), avoid overtraining, changing into dry clothes as soon as possible after a run and avoiding sudden changes in temperature. High dose Vit C, multivitamin supplements, zinc, ecchinacia; have not been shown to reduce the incidence of getting the flu / colds. Taking the flu vaccine at the end of February prevents getting the flu 70% of the time; Advisable to take it. The  vaccine has dead virus particles in it so you cannot get the flu by taking it.

What to take if you have the flu / cold?

Panado; nasal decongestants, together with lots of fluid and rest. Antibiotics are only needed if you develop bacterial infection. Avoid all anti inflammatory medication like Advil; Celebrex; Coxflam; Arcoxia; Aspirin; Mypaid; Voltaren and Myprodol, These decrease the blood supply to the kidneys and affect your stomach lining giving rise to ulcers. Especially avoid all forms of anti inflammatory medication when running races; disastrous complications can occur; especially renal failure.

Recommended time after having the flu to get back into running – at least 2-4 weeks.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Dear Stella members,

2017 is winding down and what an incredible year it has been for Stella Athletic Club.  The club comradery and unity has been incredible.

Looking back at the year we can be proud to have achieved so much as a club.  Our social functions were a huge success – from our Awards evening, quiz night to our Tropical themed end of year party.  We will not easily forget our very well supported Westville Christmas run this year where we all dressed up in our leprechaun outfits singing at the top of our voices between gulps of “liquid refreshments”.

Our regular Stella Stars newsletters have been a huge hit with many popular articles written by our members.

Let us not forget our running and walking – once again Stella has done us proud.  We were well supported at all of the races and even our gazebo has made a more consistent appearance! The weekly runs organised by the club have been very popular and often attract in excess of 30 runners! The names of all the members that have achieved their goals is too numerous to scribe.  Well done to all of us.

Our successful year could not have been made possible without your support, so to each and every member, we would like to say a heartfelt thank you for your commitment and dedication to Stella Athletic Club.  Thank you, thank you and thank you…

You will be happy to know that your committee is already hard at work planning 2018. Early in the new year you will receive an email, with an easy online link for membership renewal. We look forward to building on our successes of 2017 and see Stella Stars shine in 2018.

Once again, thank you for an incredible year and we wish you all the best for the festive break.  We are looking forward to seeing everyone back on the road in their green and gold in 2018.

Stella Athletic Club Committee

Illovo Christmas Run

By: Gina Hinchliffe

Without a doubt, Stella deserved  recognition for its Spirit on this annual voyage around Westville.

Just look at that team spirit altogether.


Whilst some were carting the booze trolley, others were panting to keep up. With Alistair at the helm, the day was cut out for us.  It was great team work with all the volunteers who offered to pull and push the booze cart. Compulsory regrouping allowed for some well deserved refreshments replenishment.

Little did we know  of the hidden talent at Stella. Craig George performing a tremendous MC job with his newly found music box. What a find Craig !!!

Then we had the super energised Nana, who not only did a brilliant job  relieving Craig  and encouraging our own green Leprechauns but also offered  sprinting  sessions up the gruelling hills to the other booze busses.

After years and years of not having done this race, it was clear that Stella have still got that Spirit and even more special was to introduce Kayla to the Stella Spirit on this race. Now she knows why we carted her around in her jogger so many years ago. The last time Kayla did this  race was in 2005.

Gina and Kayla

The Cherry on Top- The Ficksburg Cherry Run

By: Michael Mostert

One of my bucket list races was to one day do the Ficksburg Cherry run 23km over a mountain. This day finally dawned a lot sooner than expected. Waking up to minus 1 degrees seriously gave me second thoughts!

I lined up with other athletes at the start to an opening prayer by the local dominee, which was a nice change, or was it a prayer for our sanity? The gun sounded and we were off. With a false sense of delusion we hit 2.5km of tarred road and thought this was not too bad as we had the front walkers in our sights. That was until we veered off onto a rocky dirt road to head up a mountain road with the thin air reminding me this was not a coastal walk in the park. A fellow walker who had done this race 11 times said to me, “Hierdie is niks jong man wag n bietjie” – ‘This is nothing young man, wait a minute’. With some boulder hopping we wound our way up from 1450 meters to 1728 meters to the most amazing views and rock formations.  The lead walker disappeared into the distance as I gasped for air. Unfortunately this was not a recognised walk with no judges or prizes so lots of walkers were seen running to make the tight 3hr 30 minutes cut off.

By the time we got to the summit the temperatures reached 24 degrees. We passed a weather station at the top and made our way down a steep concrete road. With walking style in check, we meandered our way down, avoiding wandering cows and their fresh droppings. We passed hordes of kids with hands held out for high fives to loads of cheering which was a much needed pick me up. By this time with 4 km to go, the sun pelted down as we made our way back into the now tree lined town of Ficksburg to end our mountaineering experience at the primary school. I don’t know what was more welcoming the medal or being offered an ice cream with cherries to cool us down.

Lovely tough race and yes I will do it again, what an experience, even had time to take some pics and some not to be posted selfies …

Walking with purpose,


Bluff Marathon 2017

By: Mark Rai

Mark Bluff Marathon

No sooner after crossing the finish line of Goss & Balfe South Coast marathon, my running mate Engelbert and I decided to run Bluff Marathon to hopefully better our time. What could be more difficult than the marathon we just ran? We were still marathon fit with Bluffs being two weeks away, there was sufficient time to rest and recover. Having never done this race before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I remembered looking at the route profile the night before and noticed the elevation. I knew it would be a difficult, hilly double-lapper. Sometimes ignorance is bliss!

Representing Stella, there was a few walkers, half-marathon runners and handful of marathon runners. The weather conditions were not ideal with a strong north-easterly wind blowing. We can’t control weather conditions on race day, so it’s best to try and train in all types of conditions. The 3H’s (howling wind, heat and hills) would definitely be a factor in the race. Bertie and I had an agreement at the start of the race that whoever was feeling stronger between the two of us would keep going. The race started at 5:30 at Fynnland sports grounds. Before I knew it we were off, and running straight into a strong headwind along a flat Lighthouse rd for a km or so before turning into Marine Drive to begin an uphill climb of 1½ kms to the military base. ‘We barely started running and the hills are already coming to us,’ I silently moaned. Marine Drive is ±9kms long with undulating hills and stunning sea views. From here on we were fortunate enough to have a tailwind and we settled into our rhythm. The refreshment tables were great with coke, water, oranges, litchi juice sachets, biscuits and sweets on offer. We took in fluids early as it was already getting hot. From 10-12km’s was easy downhill running along Engen Refinery. Running into a strong headwind along a flat Tara Rd for 4kms before passing Bluff Nature Reserve, we were still feeling great.

The 16-20km mark is a tough part of the course with mostly uphill running to the top of Bluff Rd. We ran up all the way to the bluff tower on the right with ease, before breezing through halfway in a time of 1hr52mins. We even joked that we could end up finishing 1st & 2nd for the very first time for Stella! (due to the fact that so few runners from Stella were doing the marathon). We were on track for our goal of a sub 4 finish. Things can change so quickly when you running. Not long after passing halfway and running up to the military base for the second time, I knew that I was in for a tough second half. Running along the slow poison hills of Marine drive at the 25km mark, I started to feel tired and subsequently dropped my pace. I knew I ran the first half slightly faster than I had planned and was paying the price .Bertie looked strong and kept going. I stopped at a water table to re-fuel and took two Rehidrat’s hoping it would give me a much needed boost. The short hills along Marine Drive seem never ending and are energy sapping. Recovery is quick but before you know it there’s another hill waiting. I passed 30km’s in a time of 2hrs46mins. It was a welcome relief running down Marine Drive for a final time and then along Tara rd. I just put my head down and focused on my running strides as the wind was slowing me down. At 32km’s I glanced at my watch, 2hrs59mins of running. I just had over an hour to run 10kms for sub 4 finish, that meant no walking and I still had to run up Bluff Rd! I was still in with a chance, a very tough one albeit!

At 36km mark I caught up to Bertie at Bluff Nature Reserve. I was a little sore and dehydrated with the conditions definitely getting the better of us on the day! 40kms down with a time of 3hrs 54mins, a sub 4 finish seemed so distant. Chasing down a time now was always going to be a difficult task especially when you don’t have much left in the tank. We walked for the most part all the way up to Bluff Rd, trying to encourage each other. When we crested the top of Bluff Rd by Spar, I grabbed a welcoming drink at a table before heading off for the final straight. From here to the finish was easy downhill running. Entering the field, we were cheered on by Sandy and Michael, finishing in a time of 4hrs09mins. I wasn’t too concerned about not achieving my target time, just a sense of relief that we finished. There are no easy marathons. Thanks again to Sandy for saving us at the end by getting us cold coke and a cream soda.  Bluff Marathon was a tough, challenging course but a well organised race. No more running marathons for me this year. I’ll definitely take a much needed break and probably focus on shorter runs.

2017 Twizza Bonkolo Marathon / Half Marathon – Queenstown

By Dave Beattie


4am, Thursday 2 November. We decided to make an early start to tackle the 650 km journey to Queenstown. My co-pilot John Nicol was in the front passenger seat and my Mom and her Schnauzer, Bella, in the back. In front of us was Kokstad, Matatiele, Mount Fletcher, Maclear, Ugie, Elliot, Cala, Lady Frere and finally Queenstown, the home of the Twizza Bonkolo Marathon. The foothills of the Southern Drakensburg and then aloe country must be some of the most beautiful scenery in our country. A pleasant drive was however punctuated by those dreaded stop / go’s where the road is being resurfaced. With my luck I knew that I would arrive at every one of them at exactly the wrong time and spend ages baking in the oppressive heat. I was not disappointed.

Nine hours later we arrived in Queenstown. Boy was it hot. The ‘Stella on Tour’ boys immediately started the necessary ‘rehydration’ process. We did not want to be ill-prepared on race day. It was evident that the Eastern Cape was also in the middle of a drought. The Bonkolo Dam which serves as the start and finish of both the marathon and half-marathon was only 30% full.

A lot of people may wonder why I would want to go all that way to do a road race. They need not stress as runners do not need a reason to do strange things. On a more serious note I have a family link to Queenstown. My Mom was born there and I have two cousins who live in the town. The race also serves as an annual family reunion as another cousin and family come up from Port Elizabeth for the run. Over the years the number of family and friends participating in the race or seconding has grown substantially. This year we had 24 people involved in the race and there are plans to expand this next year. It’s amazing how too many ‘refreshments’ can lead to commitments by non-runners to run the following year.

The Friday was hot, very hot. The town becomes a hive of activity with runners coming from far and wide to participate in the event. Us Durban runners take races and race organisation for granted. We know that every weekend there will be a race within a 45 minute drive of us.  In the Eastern Cape / Border region people travel 3-4 hours to participate in races. That often means either paying for accommodation or leaving at 1am in the morning to arrive before the start time. I saw people from running clubs in Aliwal North, Craddock, Port Elizabeth, East London and all over the Free State. As is tradition people meet at the Sailing Club at the Bonkolo Dam on the Friday evening to collect their numbers, enjoy a beverage and generally socialise. It is truly a joy to see that road running is alive and well in all corners of our great country.

Race day Saturday dawned warm with the possibility of the mercury rising to 32 degrees. Again us lucky KZN runners forget how fortunate we are to have race fields of 1 500 plus. In the country districts regions a field of 700 is exceptional. They are a happy bunch though with the chatting and laughing so loud that I actually missed the signalling of the start. Never mind, I knew that my pre-run carbo-loading had gone well and that I would storm through the field. Well, it never quite panned out like that. A shoe malfunction and still unknown medical issue impacted on John’s race so we parted at the 8km mark. I ended up running the rest of the race with a newbie from Port Elizabeth who was doing her first 21km race. The roadside festivities and hydration tables were exceptional. Local companies sponsor and manage these tables and they give it their all. I eventually dragged my weary body over the finish line after 2.33 minutes, with John following 13 minutes later. Not to let the family down we ate far too many pancakes and built our usual pile of empty beer cans. This year we chose to miss the prize giving. The MC / race announcer could learn a valuable lesson from Durban’s Mike Bennett. We could just not sit through his repertoire of embarrassing jokes and quips. The alternative was an hour in the hot tub with a cool ‘refreshment’, a short nap before the traditional family fines meeting and then far too much food and drink. Unfortunately all good things have to come to an end.

A tortuous nine hour drive back coping with searing heat and then mist and rain will not take the shine off a fantastic long weekend doing exactly what we love. Plans are already afoot for the 2018 ‘Bong’, with additions to the touring party being sounded out about their availability. I can only imagine the impact that a bigger Stella contingent will have on those poor country bumpkins. As a parting shot though – we must be grateful that we run for such an awesome club, in such an active running province. Do not take things for granted though and try and give something back to running. Too many runners only think about what running can do for them.

Golden Gate Wild Series Trail Run

By: Dumisani Zungu

My name is Dumisani Zungu and I am based in Johannesburg. My first running club was Stella Athletic Club in 2002 while I was still based in Durban. I have fond memories of Stella running community and I always make a point  if I am in Durban to train with Stella runners. I  would like to share my experience of trail running. I took a break from running the Comrades Marathon and I was looking for new challenges. I decided to explore trail running and it has been an amazing experience. In October I took a sho’t left to Golden Gate National Park to participate in a three day trail series. Day 1- 27KM, Day 2 – 29km, Day 3 – 17km. Total kilometers  over three days is 73km. This is a tough challenge, climbs are steep and technical. It tests your mind and patience. Grit, determination and courage is required to complete the race. If you are a fast road runner it humbles you where you end up taking 10 minutes to run 1 kilometre. It was a privilege to run Golden Gate Wild Series and I will recommend to any runner to experience this adventure once in a lifetime.