Chairman’s Chirp

Chairman’s Chirp – November 2021

Hello fellow Stars

And so we start the downhill slide to the end of the year. I’m sure that all of you are exhausted and
are looking forward to a well-earned break. After almost 2 years of living under these dreaded
COVID protocols most people yearn for a return to normality. Whether that will be the normality we
knew prior to COVID, or whether it is going to be a more cautious new normality, only time will tell.
What we athletes want though is the return of the regular races on the road-racing calendar. The
provisional race calendar for the 2022 year has been published and we are lucky enough to have
retained our traditional calendar date for early March 2022. With the Comrades Marathon being run
on 28 August some of the marathon dates have been moved around to allow runners to have
multiple opportunities to qualify for the event. The race calendar as you know it will therefore be a
bit odd for 2022. If there are well organised races, I’m sure that there will be no complaints.

As a Club we have got through the year reasonably well. Whilst there was a disappointing uptake in
membership, the profit earned on the 2020 Marshalls World of Sport Stella Royal has carried us
through to where we are now. I must add that our esteemed race Director, Kevin Hendrickse, then
organised a very profitable and enjoyable 2021 Virtual race. We are hoping that our 2022 race will
be run with no COVID restrictions and that we can put on an event in the Stella tradition.

With the ending of the year comes all the normal celebrations. This year the committee has decided
to again mix things up a bit and to organise a year-end function taking COVID protocols into account.
It will be an outdoor event that will challenge your sporting flexibility. The cameras will be there to
record both the successes and epic fails. The most important point though is that there is good
camaraderie amongst the members and that a good time is had by all. Details of this event will go
out shortly.

A successful year would not be complete without saying thank you to a few groups of people. Firstly,
thank you to the Committee who have worked tirelessly to keep the Club operational during such
difficult times. Its not easy juggling work, home life and the demands of an athletics club. I would
also like to thank the road captains who have gone above and beyond to ensure that our groups had
interesting runs that met the requirements of the diverse needs of our members. The success of
these runs was evident by all the happy faces in the pictures shared on Instagram. Members are
urged to share any ideas regarding run routes with the road captains. This will ensure that we have
even more variety on the roster. Lastly a big thank you to all the members who have stuck by the
club during such difficult times.

I trust that you will enjoy a welcome break over the Christmas period and if I do not see you until
the new year I would like to wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2022.

Happy running and please all stay safe.

Dave Beattie
Chairman

Chairman’s Chirp – August 2021

David Beattie

Hello fellow Stars

We are well into the second half of the year and we are yet to see any return to normality in running terms. The COVID third wave seems to be lingering and with the slow pace of vaccinations I believe that we will only see races start again in the new year. As frustrating as that sounds we all have a responsibility to take all possible precautions to ensure that we do not infect and put the health of our fellow athletes at risk. At the club things continue to tick over thanks to our road captains. We are still having our monthly time trial and the regular Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday runs. Whilst the club is not operating at full capacity it continues to cost money to run the club and I urge members who have not paid their 2021 annual subscriptions to do so. The cost is only R 360 for the year. Your club needs your support to get through these tough times.

On 13 June we had a very successful Virtual Comrades race. It was fantastic to see so many athletes on the route celebrating the Comrades spirit.  A big thank you to those people who gave up their morning to man tables and second our athletes on the route. It takes a team to make such an event successful. Our Aches and Pains Braai was also a huge success. The only thing missing was some tall stories from the road. 

A big thank you to all the members who provide support to our monthly Time Trial. We have had an average of 65 runners per month since the return from lockdown and it is certainly not easy to manage the time and record keeping. In August we rolled out the new timekeeping system. We will be making a few tweaks to the system to make the process more efficient. Please be patient during this period as that will make it easier for the timekeepers. We are keeping records of these finish times so you will be able to chart your progress over the months. We are always on the look-out for potential lucky draw prizes for the Time Trail. If you can assist with such prizes, please can you contact me.

Just an update on the pavements and lighting in the Glenwood area. We have seen some improvements thanks to our local counsellor and some hardworking residents. With Spring around the corner, we are going to have longer days so the evening runs should become less of an obstacle course. That does not mean that all runners should ignore all the risks that athletes are exposed to. The human body is fragile and certainly cannot compete with a car. Always give way to the traffic and assume that drivers have not seen you. Please continue to wear bright colours and follow the instructions of the road captains.  

I hope to have some positive news as to the running calendar when next I write to you.

Happy running and please all stay safe.

Chairman’s Chirp

Hello fellow Stars

It’s hard to believe that we have had a year of no road races. Not many people would have predicted in early March 2020 that we would go into a lockdown and be in this situation 12 months later. With the COVID vaccination programme moving extremely slowly there is a long road ahead before we get back to normality.

Whilst some Clubs have pressed ahead with Virtual Races, these races have been run with limited numbers. There is a lot of concern that many clubs will not be able to survive another 6-10 months with either no races or limited economic activity at their premises. Stella AC is one of the Clubs that was fortunate enough to have had their 2020 race and the profit made on that race will sustain the club to and beyond the 2022 race. In terms of the 2021 race, our title Sponsor, Marshalls World of Sport, has agreed to defer their sponsorship to 2022. The 2021 race will however remain part of the Vitality Series, with a virtual race being run on 1 / 2 May. Solly M Sports will be sponsoring the event and all entries will receive a R 50 voucher for each of the KZN Vitality races entered. These vouchers can be redeemed with purchases at Solly M Sports. Runners will have a choice of 3 distances, namely 5km, 10km or 21km. All members are urged to support this race by spreading the word to their friends and family at other Clubs and to participate on either of those days. We would also like to encourage our members to run the other two events in the series, namely the Checkout Challenge on 15 / 16 May and Peace in Africa race on 29 / 30 May. All Discovery Vitality members will get additional Vitality points for completing the races.

Another worrying factor for many Clubs is the slow pace of membership renewals. As at the end of March only 35% of Stella AC members had renewed their membership. Members are urged to at least pay their R 360 annual Club membership. We understand that we are living in tough economic times and are happy to discuss a payment plan with those members who cannot afford to pay this fee in one payment.

With the Comrades Marathon cancelled most athletes are waiting to hear the final plans relating to the Virtual Comrades race on 13 June. Please watch this space as some interesting options are being discussed by the Stella leadership group. The options currently under discussion include various distance options being run on the Comrades route on either a point to point, or out and back basis. The aim of this approach is to give the novices an idea of what it’s like to run on the actual Comrades route. Once the final arrangements are made there will be a notice sent out to all members via all the available communication channels.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those members who have recently gone out of their way to make Stella great. We have seen some innovative Saturday runs that have drawn big crowds. This includes our visit to the Stainbank Reserve and the Gillies run with members of Bluff AC. The road captains will continue to plan runs that allow for a regular change of scenery. This certainly makes for interesting training and it has been fantastic to see so many people stay for coffee afterwards. We have also had a few smaller events at the Den that have boosted morale during these difficult times. It is welcoming to see members with so much passion for the sport also willing to go to great lengths to make the Club experience enjoyable. Please keep up the good work. The Leadership Team would welcome any suggestions that you may have to improve the Club
experience.

The Committee would like to thank all the businesses that support Stella AC in various ways during the year. The sponsors names are mentioned after each event and I urge members to please support these businesses in return. As many members may be aware, Peter Limbouris from Dirks Butchery passed away recently. The Committee would like to send their deepest condolences to his family. Peter was a good friend of Stella AC and will be sorely missed.

As we start to move towards Winter I urge all members to take extra care when out training. Please wear bright clothes and do not forget that vehicles will always have right of way. Please also train in groups. There has been a spate of recent muggings and I would hate one of our members to experience such a traumatic event. If training with a group on a Club night, please listen carefully to the instructions given to you by the road captains. Do not let the groups become too fragmented and allow members to be left running or walking on their own. Regroup as often as possible and if anyone is lagging behind please drop back and encourage them. Even though COVID has had a devastating effect on society and the sport that we love, I firmly believe that Stella AC is well positioned to get through this and become stronger than ever. We urge all members to continue to support the Club through this process. If everyone does their little bit,
we will flourish.

Happy running and please all stay safe.

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.