Running in the Cayman Islands

After moving to Durban in 2018 I never imagined that a simple “Running Clubs Near Me” google search would lead me to such an amazing club. I felt very welcome and enjoyed every run – meeting new people almost every week and learning from the array of experienced runners the club had and still has at its disposal. I joined the club having never run more than 10kms and grew to a point where I was ready to enter for the 2020 Comrades Marathon. I loved the Gillies Saturday run and the morning weekday runs, with one of my highlights being getting the crown on the “Avenues” segment (sorry Tawanda!).

At the end of 2020 I moved to the sunny and tropical shores of the Cayman Islands. And being a running enthusiast, I had already bought my running gear and researched the running routes and races. After 2 weeks of quarantine I was ready to do my first run on the island – which turned out to be super hard as the heat and humidity was unbearable. I could not run more than 4kms. My second run was a disaster too; as after a wrong turn I found myself jogging on beach sand. I had to cancel my run and salvage whatever was left of my calves and quads.

As time passed by, I quickly climatized to the humidity and got familiar with the routes, and my runs got a lot better. I had to strategically position my runs either between 5 – 7AM or 6 – 8PM; hydrate constantly; and I was advised that I need to carry an electrolyte drink for all runs longer than an hour – and because of the sweating I was more susceptible to chafing. At the end of January, I laced up my trainers for a half marathon which I enjoyed – and I hope to do many more in this new territory.

There is a large running community on the island which made the runner in me settle in pretty quickly. I do however miss the “Go Stella” cheers from strangers during a race, and the relief you get when you see the club tent at the finish line. I hope that one day I can realize my dream of completing the Comrades in the Stella colours.

~ Mandla Mkhize

Catching up with the Greens

Dear Stella Family,

We arrived to a freezing cold London on the 10th of January having left a scorching hot Durban in our shorts and slops. We flew over Doha and a change of clothes was definitely required to be ready for the UK weather. We were collected by our taxi and dropped off at our friend’s home in London. Luckily we arrived before the UK government had introduced the new hotel quarantine regulations and therefore we had to isolate in our property for 10 days before we could go out and about. Luckily our friend’s had left an old exercise bike in the shed which we managed to revive and found some spinning class videos on YouTube. 

Needless to say, we were very excited to get out and about after our 10 day isolation. The UK is still under a hard lockdown so only essential shops are open i.e. grocery stores. No hairdressers unfortunately, but we could still get our tipple of choice.

Alistair’s Experience

I ventured out for my first run and I think the neighbours must have thought I had lost my marbles as I took off down the road in my South African flag print Funky Pants.  My second run was quite the experience as it started to sleet and then snow quite heavily when I was still 5 km’s from home. By the time I got back to the house there was a thick blanket of snow. I arrived home to the gleeful screeches of our two boys throwing snowballs at one another. I can also confirm that road running shoes are definitely not the right foot gear for snow running, it was a very slippery run home. 

Petra’s Experience

Running in the cold is definitely something to get used to, and coming from SA we had absolutely no gear to keep us warm. My first run out was in 0 degrees and I remember getting home and not being able to feel my legs or toes from the cold. I’ve had to layer up with as much as I can and use buffs around my head to keep my ears warm, but it still takes a good few km’s just to feel your hands and toes. Dodging the sneaky black ice has also been quite the experience and I’ve had a few near misses. It is safe to say that I will never complain about running in heat and humidity again!  

Running on my own has taken some getting used to and a really miss all the laughs, chit chats and motivation that comes with running in a group. We have both noticed what an effect heat has on your running ability/speed. Having taken about 30 seconds/km off our normal running time and it is definitely not down to fitness. Running is also really safe as there are sidewalks along all the roads so it is very rare that you need to run on the road. 

We’ve had some great runs through parks and open spaces and have enjoyed the change of scenery. However, we get quite homesick when seeing the routes and pictures being shared on the Stella WhatsApp groups and Strava. We miss those early morning sunrises along the Durban promenade and the coffee after our morning runs, but particularly miss the camaraderie that Stella had and how it brought people from all walks of life, ages and ethnic groups together! 

We look forward to joining a running club over here once the lockdown eases but it will be very difficult to match the many special friendships and bonds made over the years at Stella. 

Life of an Expat – Cindy Haddad

Grüezi Stella Stars!

The waaaaay I miss you guys…

For the love of running I agreed to write something in the hope that my story will inspire some of you who might be struggling physically or mentally and also just to give a glimpse of what it´s like running in different conditions.

Now an Expat living in Switzerland, I maintain my Proudly South African status with pride.  I must say, as much as it is a privilege to experience different countries and cultures, and it being a crucial factor to opening ones eyes and seeing the world from a different perspective, “you will never really truly have a sense of home until you leave home” – Unknown.  I have no greater pride than when I tell the Swiss about my country and our people. Having said that, the process of leaving my country was gut wrenching and although it gets a little easier every day, there are still days filled with emptiness and no sense of belonging and this is where my running gets me through every time!

Zechariah 4:10

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.

I wanted to put this verse in because I think about it every time I feel that my insignificant 2k walk or seriously slow 10k run just to keep going is not going to amount to anything, I remind myself that it all ads up and as long as I keep going, then I am doing better than nothing.

So far my greatest achievement is that I have kept going.

Honestly, I have not done a lot of running since I arrived in Switzerland but enough to be able to share with you about some of my challenges, adjustments, and experiences.

Since I arrived in Switzerland in Summer, the temperatures were not a problem, but the change in altitude humbled me in the beginning to say the least. I knew there would be challenges adjusting to the higher altitude, but I did not know what to expect physically.

Interlaken is located some 566m above sea level compared to Durban´s 8m. That is a significant difference in altitude to adjust to. My first couple of runs was uncomfortable. I experienced altitude sickness for the first time, with symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, and headaches.  Needless-to-say, I had to ease into it. It didn´t take long, but I just started with brisk walking and shorter, slower runs to strengthen my lungs and re-regulate my breathing. Once I adjusted to these conditions, running became a pleasure again. 

Then came my first Winter…I had been dreading it to be honest, not knowing what to expect physically and I worried about loosing fitness, thinking I would probably not run as regularly as what I am used to. And I didn´t, but again I eased into it slowly. 

I clearly did not have suitable gear for below zero temperatures. Until I could figure out what fabrics they use to combat the Winter bite, this is what I wore:

Long tights and sweatpants over that, a vest, long sleeve running shirt, a sweater, and a jacket, 3 pairs of socks (rather toit), gloves, a beanie, and a neck buff. My eyes watered from the sting of the cold air, although it is possible that I was crying, and my nose ran faster than me.  I still have no idea how I actually managed to run with all that clothing on. Also, running on snow and ice has been both scary and funny when you don´t have the correct footwear.  Finding shoes and grips suitable for icy conditions are crucial to prevent injury.  I have since adjusted quite well to the weather conditions and acquired suitable running gear which makes a big difference.  Now I love running in Winter.

I never minded running on my own but when I became part of the Stella family, I grew quite fond of training with my comrades and when I got to Switzerland I had to run alone and I still do for now. No, I can´t run with my Husband because I can´t keep up 😊 Being part of Stella made a big difference in my life and to my running. There are running clubs in the bigger towns and cities, but where we are, most people are pretty much each to their own. Perhaps I will start a little group when Aunty Rona gives us the thumbs up.

So, we keep going…because we are Stella Stars!!!

#stellaforlife

Winter running in Switzerland

by Alex Hadad

The title sounds great, the scenery is fantastic but getting out the front door remains a Durbanites biggest challenge. Running in winter is not for the faint hearted. I understand why many people prefer treadmills when temperatures fall below zero.

However, once you on the road, it can be one of the most rewarding experiences. Running alongside the rivers and lakes, between the snowcapped mountains is all worth it.

For winter running, some of the challenges include:

  1. Getting your layers right! It’s easy to pile on layers based on temperatures but what we need to consider is our bodies running temperature. Rule of thumb is normally add 10 degrees to accommodate your bodies temperature.
  2. Wearing the correct shoes, especially in icy conditions is critical. Specific winter shoes with special treads are available. We have invested in wrap around studs for icy conditions. However, get it wrong with your footing and you can potentially land on your ass!
  3. Running strides shorten due to slippery conditions. Balance is essential and looking at every step you take to ensure footing is secure.
  4. Hydration even in cold conditions. All the water fountains we use in summer are frozen or closed. We need to know where water is along the routes or have the option to run with a backpack.
  5. All the extras: beany or balaclava/buff, gloves and wind jacket. Be prepared for changing conditions.
  6. Understanding your body and performance. Bodies require more oxygen in colder conditions, but it’s also important to “read” your body and know how your lungs and muscles react to the colder conditions.

So, what makes running in winter special? Without a doubt the snow. There’s something magical about embracing a run in the cold and on snow.

Also having fresh snowflakes fall on your face is worth all the effort to get out and go for a run.

Running in winter tests your will power.  Without a doubt it takes plenty willpower to get out but once you on the road, it all systems go.

However, you cannot let the weather get to you, otherwise it can easily turn in a 3-4 month break.

What do we miss? Without the Stella and KZN runners. It’s not the same without the friendships and banter on the road. Generally, people don’t run in big groups. So its plenty solo running here.

What the 2021 plan? Hopefully races will happen this year. Plan to run Zurich marathon in April and then our local race, the Jungfrau marathon in September. For this one, it requires a lot hill training. The second half has crazy elevation changes. Total elevation gain is around 1’800m.

Last words? We live in challenging times. No matter where we are in the world, plenty uncertainty remains. Mental health is critical. So, let’s support and encourage each other. Whether your run or walk, get on the road and release those endorphins. Let’s come out of this pandemic stronger!

Life of an Expat – Darren Smith

by Darren Smith

I ran with Stella for 9 years before moving to Brisbane, Australia in 2019. My running career with Stella included 6 Comrades medals ( 2 Bill Rowans ), 2 Ultra marathons, 22 Marathons.

Starting running in a new country without a running club has been challenging. Being involved in a club gives you the support and the momentum to keep pushing your self and staying committed. This is where the challenge has come in as I struggled to keep my momentum going without anyone to keep me accountable. Needless to say I miss everyone at Stella.

I did give a running club a try here but the way the club works and the club culture was not the same. I am still open to trying other clubs here and always keep an eye open for others. However in the recent year I found a running in partner and used the time during Covid to work on our running as all gyms were closed. This was the boost and time I needed to build my motivation and my running fitness.

I’ve managed to improve my speed, fitness and found a routine that works for me. On a weekly basis I run 3-4 times a week and aim to reach 40kms a week. Thank you to my stella friends who have encouraged and supported me from a far.

Life of an Expat – Kim Bonorchis

by Kim Bonorchis

On 22 October 2019 I left South Africa to set up our new home in Hampshire, UK (south of England) with the plan of Clay following a few months later with all our belongings; which did not materialise due to Covid19, which changed all our lives around the world.

This solo journey has taught me a lot:- “Learn from yesterday, live for today and hope for tomorrow”.

You are never too old to learn new ways:-
– filling your own petrol in the car (no petrol attendants)
– putting air in your car tyres (yes, you pay for the air)
– scraping ice off the windscreen of the car
– packing your own groceries

Learning new words:-

  • Braai = barbeque
  • Cell phone = mobile phone
  • Traffic/turning circle = roundabouts (some do have robots in the roundabout)
  • Robots = traffic lights
  • Freeway = motor way
  • Jersey = jumper
  • Pants = trousers
  • Underwear = pants
  • Sick = poorly
  • Geyser = boiler
  • Prestik = blue tac
  • Takkies = trainers
  • Tracksuit top = fleece
  • Jersey = pull over
  • SMS = text
  • Bond = mortgage
  • Pickup = bakkie
  • Globe = bulb
  • Hello = Hiya
  • ICE – you need to really pronounce the “I” or else they think you are saying something else.


How differently things work here:-

  • Council tax (SA rates/refuse) – apply online, receive a discount if you live on your own no matter how old you are and you do not pay a deposit to secure the account.
  • Electricity – choose your own supplier, submit your meter readings and receive the bill electronically that day or the following day (you do not pay a deposit to secure the account and can change supplier as often as you like).
  • Doctor – you register with the doctor where you live and are requested to come for a check up even though you are not sick, for FREE, to build a medical record.  All records and results are available online which you as the patient have access too.  Doctor sends you reminders for check- ups.
  • National Insurance is deducted from you payslip monthly which covers all medical expenses except reading glasses and if you opt for private dentist instead of the NHS dentist.  I have been to a Government Hospital (NHS) which for me was the same experience as a private hospital in SA.
  • This contributes also towards your government pension.
  • No bank charges on cheque account (able to have joint accounts)
  • Self checkout tills at the supermarkets.
  • You pack your own groceries and the cashiers are always friendly and enjoy having a chat with you.
  • Transport: buses and trains are frequent and on time.
  • APPs – use lots of APPS for various things and people love to shop online.
  • Parcels/deliveries are left on your doorstep at home or at the office (no fence around the property or driveway gate).
  • Daily delivery of post including receiving pamphlets from the Government about Covid19 or if there is going to be a disruption of electricity or water you will get a letter in the post with advanced warning.
  • Pay Road Tax online (like the license disk on SA cars), we do not display a disk on the windscreen as police log your registration into their tablets/cellphones to get details on the vehicle.
  • MOT: cars are checked annually for road worthiness (you can look up a car registration online to see the history of the car).
  • Drivers license, filled in a form at the Post Office and received my UK Drivers License in the post a week later.
  • Motorway, nobody driving in the emergency lanes, driving at the speed limit and give you gaps including the trucks.
  • Nobody hoots and there is no road rage.
  • Have not seen 1 tow truck only AA or RAC.
  • Pedestrians have right of way including cyclists in the numerous cycle lanes.
  • Abundance of parks and forests to walk in safely which are well kept and litter free.
  • Salaries are aligned to affordable cost of living (such a variety of affordable food at a variety of supermarkets and/or markets).
  • Customer service is absolutely amazing and all Government/council services work here.
  • Libraries are well stocked and you can read online via e-books for free together with magazines or newspapers instead of going into the libraries.


I live in Hampshire which has the New Forest and South Downs National Park, full of
villages and endless walks and cycle routes amongst the wild horses and ponies; together with a short drive to the beaches of sand or pebbles.  Hampshire has an abundance of history and
friendly folk you chat to along the walks.  London is a 1 hour train journey.

Besides having the freedom to walk safely and catch public transport I live in a country where you are not judged for what you look like, what you wear, what car you drive, who you socialise with, where you live, what job you do or company you work for; people here are very respectful of one another and trust each other. To be able to walk in the dark home after work from the train
Station and not look over my shoulder is an understatement.  To drive with my windows open and my handbag on my seat has given me hope of feeling safe and free to do so.  It took me a while to get used to no security gates, burglar bars, alarm, electric fences and parking my car where there is not driveway gate or high wall.  No matter where you live in the world there is always going to be crime but I for one, feel safe, relaxed, positive and content in our new home.

SA will always be home, full of scenic beauty with wonderful childhood memories.
I miss my family and friends but with todays technology I seem to talk more to them now than I did when I was in SA. UK does not have bad weather, it is about wearing the right clothes to accommodate the weather during the 4 distinctive seasons.  Autumn is my personal favourite with the amazing colours.  Summer days are very long, sunsets between 9.30pm and 10pm and experienced temperatures of 33 degrees in 2020.

My solo journey so far has changed my ways of spending weekends in SA of road cycling and seconding Clay on his runs to walking in the forests/beaches and even started doing Park Runs in the UK prior to Covid19.  Once Clay has arrived we will start mountain biking on weekends through the forests and he can do the trail runs.

Daily routine changes as work only starts at 9am and finishes at 5pm; you get told you have to take a lunch break; had to get used to that as in SA never took one.  I learnt to work a lot slower as that is how it is done here and everyone is so respectful to one another in the work environment. I still get asked if I am from Australia, New Zealand or Canada, besides South Africa (the land of the Safari as it is referred too by some; they are very oblivious to what is happening in SA).

This has been my solo journey so far and I am so very thankful, incredibly grateful and unbelievably blessed; may my STELLA STAR RUNNER, Clay (aka PAPA SMURF) start his marathon journey to me in 2021 to start our new beginnings.

Take care and stay safe,
Kim

Martins Escapades

by Andrew Martin

The final part of our adventure began on Friday the 2nd of August 2019. We wanted our final goodbyes to be a low-key affair, so we hired a car for a few weeks to eventually self-drive to the airport, my sister and a few close friends joined us for a cup of coffee, that was more than enough to try and emotionally handle.

The time trial braai/impromptu farewell at the club on Thursday the 1st was a nice gesture. Dave said a few words and it was done. Saying goodbye to those that were there after being at the club since 2007 did bring a tear or 2. I had made some incredibly special friends during the 12 odd years of running/socializing at Stella Running/Drinking Club. I think the continual laughs, camaraderie, club nights, socializing, oh…and running, will never be forgotten.

We landed at Heathrow on Saturday the 3rd, we were collected by a mate who put us up at his home in Windsor and then drove us down to the coast on Sunday.

As the universe would have it another mate was going on holiday and needed someone to house and dog sit for the week, we had use of their car so we could find a place to live, find work and buy a car. They were situated in Corfe Mullen, which was pretty close to Bournemouth, the city we had chosen to settle. The main reasons were that it was on the coast, close to the New Forest, a massive green belt in the south east and was in the southerly part of England. It has a supposedly micro-climate which differs from most of the UK as in a few degrees warmer and not as wet. Not quite Durban, I know.

Tanya had by chance connected up with an ex-Capetonian who was busy renovating a small apartment in Wimborne near Poole. It was almost complete and was offered to us for a nominal rental while she was busy renovating upstairs.

We had managed to buy a car, find a place to live and both had interviews by the time our mates got back from holiday. We moved in [to an empty apartment] and started work a week later. The universe works in mysterious ways. We subsequently moved upstairs to the larger apartment in February 2020.

Running had obviously taken a back seat while we tried to find our feet and get to grips with all the new systems and processes in a new country. We did walk…. a lot. We explored our little town which has a church that was built over 800 years ago. We are about 100m from the River Stour, so our walks were across open fields and along the river.

I had attempted a few runs, but the weather was closing in on us, days were getting shorter, it was getting cold, dark and miserable, so much easier to get home and read a book. We did walk most days though, apparently there is no such thing as bad weather in the UK, only bad clothing…ja right. They say your blood gets thicker with time…ja right…zero degrees is cold.

Fast forward to Spring, clocks get changed and almost immediately you sense happiness in the air, people are smiling, more friendly and the day light hours get longer.

I began to start running again, it was wonderful. I started slow and short and gradually built up to my goal of 5km. It is pretty flat where we live near the river so no real challenges.

We also cycled a lot, so much easier and could get to a lot more places. Cycling is huge in our town, most days we would see more cyclists than runners and walkers. I often cycled to and from work.

Summer had arrived with a vengeance…. daylight hours doubled. We bought a SUP [stand up paddleboard] as we were so close to the river and used it very often. We would get home from work, pack a bite to eat, some beers and take a walk down to the river and get back home close to 10pm, the river was busy and the weather warm. We would paddle upriver, find a ‘beach’ and have dinner and drift back down. Believe it or not there were some evenings it was just too hot and humid to run or paddle, so we packed a bag and sat under the trees and watched the world go by.

Summer here makes up for the dreary winter and there are four distinctive seasons. Autumn started peeping her head when the leaves began falling in late August and by late October winter was arriving. Soon December was here, and it was cold and dark again, but we had made a pact that we would continue running if it were not too windy or raining. So…when we got home, we got changed and hit the trail to do our 5km route along the river and through a bit of forest. We had got our winter running gear, gloves, beanie, lights and thermals. We saw foxes on the trail and a few other crazies. We had managed to run 19 times in December, and a few of those runs were in zero temperatures, before we had a major disruption in our lives.

I tested positive for the dreaded lurgy [Covid19] on January 1st, 2021 and Tanya on the 4th. Both felt like we had been hit by a bus. I went back to work on the 12th and Tanya on the 14th, we are still both fatigued but on the mend.

Running has taken a back seat for a while but I am sure we will start again soon…we have started walking longer distances in the meantime.

We were introduced to an activities group by another mate and they have an assortment of disciplines that various members do. In total there are over 1000 members.

We did a few group paddles on the river with them until the lockdown put a stop to it, they do mountain biking, road biking, wall climbing, orienteering, open water swimming, cliff walking, sea kayaking, road and trail running which are but some of the available activities. We will be joining them in a few when things ease, and the days start to get longer.

In closing, I often get asked if I miss South Africa, my answer is yes, of course, every day, to move to another country and leave everyone and everything you hold dear is huge…I miss family and friends terribly, but we chose to move, Robyn is thriving and loving it here and for that we are grateful. It may still take time for us to acclimatise and get used to life in another country, there are some good and not so good aspects about living here, but I believe it is all about attitude, embracing change and courage.

Hope the club goes from strength to strength in these testing times.

Kind regards

Andrew Martin

Running in the UK

by Glen Connell

For those that don’t know me, my name is Glen Connell. I am 48 years old and have been running for 42 of those years. I have run over 1200 races during that time. I ran for Stella for 31 years, DHSOB for 9 years. My family and I moved across to the UK in August 2018 and I now run for Maidenhead AC for the past 2 years.

Training runs at the club are mostly off road, and as somebody who hates running off road, means I don’t run with the club much, preferring to run by myself in the early mornings like I did in SA. After their training runs there is no cracking open a couple of beers, it’s tea/coffee and cake!!

Race entry fees are in the region of £25-£35 for a half marathon and £45-£50 for a normal marathon (Paris marathon about £90). Most races are organised by events companies and not clubs. Being a member of a club is not mandatory but you get a £1 or £2 discount if you do belong to a club.Around 50-60% of runners in most races are not members of a club. Starts are normally in waves of around 200-300 every few minutes, and times are taken from when you cross the line.

Races are marked in miles, but I don’t think I will ever get used to miles. I keep my watch on kms so that I can judge my pace better. Seconding tables are spaced about 5kms apart and have only water in sealed plastic bottles. Having to carry my own Coke or Lucozade Sport (Energade equivalent over here) is a bit of a pain, but I have got used to it.

At the end of races you are handed your medal , collect a piece of fruit and a bottle of water off the table, and off home you go, no club tents and hanging around socializing.

Running in winter has certainly been one of the things I have had to get used to, but I actually now prefer running in winter here than running during summer!! Although this has resulted in a few slips on icy roads and has resulted in some blood being shed..

I have run about 10 races in the 18 months between arriving in the UK and the time when races stopped in March when we went into our 1st lockdown. It’s going to be a while before races are going to be held again here, as races I entered for April/May last year were originally postponed until September/October, then postponed again until the same dates this year. These have all now been postponed again until September 2021 and who knows if things will allow races to happen by then, at least my entry and entry fee has been transferred to whenever the race next takes place. Holding thumbs the vaccine rollout here will be successful and will allow things to return to some sort of normal.

Before Covid there were lots and lots of races. On any normal weekend there would be at least 1or 2 races within a 30-35km radius from where I live (half marathons are huge in the UK), giving lots of options. The only thing I have not seen too many of is road ultra marathons. The off road/ trail running scene is also very big and popular over here.

The last year has been a challenging one in terms of trying to stay motivated and trying not to lose too much fitness. Trying to run 2 or 3 times a week.

Be thankful for the running scene in SA and Durban in particular, you have it good in terms of cost and value for money, race organisation, club scene and socializing.

Support the clubs and pay your membership fees,and ensure that they survive this period and come out the other side of this pandemic, otherwise the running scene will change and not necessarily for the better. Races will start again when it’s safe to do so. Stay safe and keep training.

On being a running expat . . .

From Simone Cullingworth – Auckland, New Zealand

When Sandy messaged and asked me to write some words for the blog – on being a running expat, the changes, experiences etc –  I didn’t bat an eyelid. I knew exactly what I was going to say. 

Running is my biggest source of connection – it connects me to my best memories in my life; it’s connected me to the best part of my days at present, and I know it’s a sure connection to my future. Connection is vital to anyone, but especially as a foreigner. Running has been mine. This is why I love it so much.

Running takes me back to most of my childhood  memories.  It was common to wake up at 3am to travel to an event and watch my Dad, uncle, and family friends run. Every year we’d drive overnight for the Two Oceans.  It may have just been a race, but that race facilitated happy memories with my family that I absolutely treasure. 

I’ve been running since single digits. I can still visualise school cross country routes and athletics tracks. I can hear school war cries; remember early morning training banter and conversations with people I still keep in touch with. 

Comrades Day every year on the side of Cowies Hill with the family – braaing, cheering, and teasing, especially “Florida Boys are pooftas!” Even my 16 year old son can remember this!

In adulthood, running with Stella brought lifelong friendships no matter where in the world we are now!  In NZ you don’t have to belong to a club to enter races, so therefore there are very few official run clubs.  I so regret not taking my Stella Kit because I’d be wearing it proudly if I had it.

Running in New Zealand once again has been the biggest connector to the best parts of my life here.  My first run in NZ was on a rainy day where no one would have been able to separate my tears from the pouring rain. Gary and I have used running events (its SO expensive to race here!)  to travel and see the country. I’ve gotten lost and discovered new roads and pathways but found my way home. I’ve sprinted myself breathless from pure pining and longing for family.   My solo runs connect me to my head and heart where I can pray, think and work it out  – I come home better. It brings depth and meaning.

The BEST part is that running has connected me to my bestest friends.  There’s no social run club culture in NZ so when someone says “i’m looking for someone to run with” or if I ask “do you run?” – well then there’s nothing left to say but “join us”.  

With these friends we’ve talked our lives out; we’ve laughed; cried;  stopped on the pavement to hug or pray and stopped to marvel at the sunrise.  Not forgetting saving people from fires, house floods, being shooshed because we are talking too loudly at 5am

These runs have made the roads of New Zealand feel like home.  

I don’t know what the future holds but I know that we can still run, and that is a connection not only for me, but I know for expats or actually anyone who feels lost or disconnected and needs hope.  I get excited knowing that we’re a part of and keep adding to a community through a walk or run.  I LOVE the excitement that comes when one connection leads to another and to another and to another.  One small step ripples through and keeps going along the road. 

I will always appreciate and love the sound of shoes hitting the road, whether few or many, at any pace, everyday or at an event. 

When the Byrds sing about a time to every purpose under heaven, I sing:

To everything (run, run, run)

There is a season (run, run, run)

This is my experience and this is why I love to run. Thank you to everyone who’s shared the road with me so far.  I look forward to crossing paths one day soon!

Chairman’s Chirp

Happy New Year to you all.

We have entered a year of great uncertainty on many fronts. I am going to focus on athletics though.

With no physical races since lockdown first started, I’m sure that you are all pretty frustrated. The bad news is that there is unlikely to be any races for at least the first half of the year. Some of the year’s biggest races have already been cancelled and I know only too well what such a decision does to these clubs. Stella like any club relies on its race to boost its coffers. The majority of this money is used to pay fixed monthly expenses and also cover certain events that are put on for the members. Without this money hard decisions will need to be made by all clubs. Stella AC will have the same problems as it will not be possible to put on our Stella Royal in early March. We have requested another date in the second half of the year but are yet to hear back from KZNA.

Our second biggest source of revenue is membership fees. Without this money it would be very difficult to run the club. I believe that as a club we need to stand together to ensure that Stella remains the strong club that it has always been. It is for this reason that I ask that you please renew your membership with the club and buy your licence for 2021. KZNA and ASA cannot run offices without the money received from such licences. If they cannot operate no services will be supplied to athletes or clubs. I see the licence renewal as a leap of faith to ensure that once we get through this pandemic that the sport that we love can quickly get back on its feet and offer the races that we all participate in.

The ASA and club membership forms are available on the Stella AC website. Please complete them, make the payment and send all necessary documentation to stellaathleticclub@gmail.com. If you have any questions, please address them to Pat Freeman at the above e-mail address. The membership fees remain unchanged from 2020.

Thank you for your time and your commitment to Stella AC. If you would like to discuss any of these issues with me, please message or phone me privately.

Regards Dave Beattie.