Events

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!

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.

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,

Michael

Bengaluru Half Marathon- India

By: Bukelwa Nzimande

Many of the changes that came with moving to Bangalore left me completely demotivated when it comes to running.  My list of course rests on a decorated bed of a thousand excuses and utter laziness. Two months in and trying to nip these in the bud I decided to sign-up for a big race this side, and to my luck the Shiram Property Bengaluru Marathon, one of the biggest race events in the city, was on the cards.

When I signed up, I had just over a month to train for a half marathon, which was okay because 21km is familiar ground, and the last time I ran a half marathon I did “great”, even with a head cold. So I knew I would smash it. Well let’s say I thought I would smash it.

Leading up to race day, I had only managed to put in about 6 lousy runs, all comfortably under 10km, two of which had left me feeling like death. I had also managed to work up a foot injury 2 weeks leading up to the day, because my ambition was in the clouds and I wanted to fast-track my training. The delusion of thinking I was as fit as I last remember together with the pressure from my electronic handcuff (this is what I call my running watch these days) made me do it. No no no, not stupidity.

On race day, surrounded by thousands of people, for the very first time I stood at the start line of an official race outside my own country, filled with anticipation and a familiar sense I always get at the start of a big running event- unity. I also felt the most relaxed, expecting no more than just living through the full spirit of the race. I knew I was out of shape and was bagging on former glories to gracefully carry me through- No I actually fully knew this at the end of the race and was well humbled.

The gun went off and we set out. The first 5km were bliss and adrenaline. Reckless adrenaline because at 6km I already knew that I was doing a bad job at pacing myself, and was already suffering at the hands of the unforgiving humidity of Bangalore.  In that moment two of my colleagues (Jeremy and barefoot running Kishore) dashed past me looking strong and in seconds disappeared into the horizon. Seeing them go encouraged me to keep going, but I knew I had to slow down and completely forget the numbers on my watch and run at a comfortable pace. I felt like I was fighting two battles: forcing myself to listen to my body and not my tomtom, and fighting the urge of wanting to check my slipping pace.  I resorted to my usual crazy strategies of counting to 20 and backwards to 15, up to 50 and down to 30 and so forth.  Spelling people’s names as they passed…. oh and a lot passed me.

Punctuated by festivities, drumming, cheering and song, I managed to keep this up well past the 16km mark, before…my foot (Yes, the one that I had rested and treated like a queen) was like “sorry Kelwa I think I’ve had enough”. In my mind I was like “no sweet thing please don’t do this to me now, we are doing reasonably okay and we can finish this”. I continued through the growing pain of my retaliating foot and mental torture. In all fairness I didn’t need to put myself through anything.  I could have stopped and jumped into an ambulance…but this didn’t cross my mind at any point.  Does it ever?  I wanted to finish and finish I did…happy and in pain. My pictures tell this story so well.  I couldn’t even fake it for the cam fam.

Annette, my sweet running mate was waiting for me at the finish line. We were stoked as ever to have run and finished a race in India, which for me is also a record breaker sneaking into my record books as my slowest 21km time. But I was okay with that because outside of the injury, I absolutely enjoyed being part of the running family here. The foot did not stop me from joining the Bollywood-style jol that a significant number of people stayed for after indulging in a full hot breakfast.

Additionally, the event was extremely organised, from the registration, expo and race-pack collection to marshals and traffic control. There was also not a single water sachet in sight, none in the storm drainage channels, none in the bushes. Nothing but runners and clean roads behind and before. This meant that every water station functioned like clockwork from, rinsing tumblers, refilling them and lining them up in no time, the entire duration of the race. The volunteers and helpers are always amazing!

Sydenham Time Trial League – Walking Stars Report

By: Michael Mostert

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All the keen, mean, and lean Stella Walking Stars poured out of Wendy’s taxi at the Sydenham Durban Runner Mizuno Time Trial League on Thursday 19 October. Casting our eyes heavenward at the ominous clouds building up, we all wondered if we were going to be caught in a downpour as we prepared for the Sydenham 5 km, not 4km, time trial league.

200 runners and walkers lined up for the 5km and 8km slog. The start gun caught us all by surprise as some were still adjusting their hair, their kit, and others still chatting away…we were off. The route goes through the friendly, but hilly, Sydenham suburbs up the notorious Jan Smuts Highway until 45th cutting when you turn back.

Nana pulled ahead like the fast and the furious disappearing into the distance, and finished in 5th position overall in an amazing time of 36 minutes and 36 seconds. Wendy completed it in 8th place in 39 minutes 02 seconds, followed by Michael in 9th place in 39 minutes and 13 seconds. With our ever smiling and chatty Frankie in 13th while coaching the SANDF Walker on the correct style to use….that’s our Frankie. Our ever reliable Musician Roland came in a cool 22nd place in his 1st walk in a few months.

Was nice to be greeted by the smiling support team of Mary in her kit at the finish line as we stumbled over, thanks for the support Mary. The Red Bull ladies also handed out some well-deserved drinks to the exhausted athletes at the end.

Out of 13 teams, Stella Walking Stars finished the league in 3rd place, 7 points behind 2nd place team and 17 points ahead of the 4th placed team.

  1. DHSOB
  2. QBH Harriers
  3. Stella
  4. PDAC

Well done to you all for your time and sacrifice this year, you are all stars in my eyes.

Wishing Wendy Coleman a blessed belated birthday for Friday, October the 20th. Congratulations must also go to Wendy for coming 3rd in the ladies walking category in the Merewent 10km on Sunday 22 October.

Walking with purpose,

Michael M

The FNB Durban 10K – A race against the clock

By: Luke Muller

A fast, flat road run with a substantial prize purse is going to attract some star athletes, and the inaugural FNB Durban 10K had plenty of those. Before the race, there was talk of top international runners joining the field and attempting 10km records. My own thoughts were that the race presented the perfect opportunity to go for a PB.

There are some variables you can control before a race and many that you cannot. The first obstacle appeared when one of my friends announced that he had invited people over for a party at my house the night before. He is not the type of person to spend Saturday sipping camomile tea, so by 11 pm I packed my tog bag, left the party, and drove to my parents’ house to find a quieter place to sleep. Just before leaving, I took a bet that I would not only get a new PB but smash it by more than a minute. A fairly ludicrous bet.

The race was scheduled to start unusually late, 8 am. Unfortunately, this was unbeknownst to my mother who woke me up at 4:30 am. A beautiful day dawned over the city of Durban and I headed down to Moses Mabhida Stadium to warm up and twiddle my thumbs for a couple of hours. The event was well organised and there were going to be thousands of runners. It was a glorious spring morning, perhaps too glorious, it was starting to get hot.

A slight southerly wind was blowing as we grouped together in our batches, waved flags and sang Shosholoza. There was excitement at the start line as the elites filed into the front batch. My heart rate was already exploding, and soon we were charging down the M12. The sun was hot, but plenty of ice-cold water stations allowed runners to cool down. Everything was going smoothly, and streams of supporters, cheerleaders, drum majorettes, and traditional dancers kept us going as we headed towards Blue Lagoon. The other thing that kept us going was the slight tail-wind, that turned into a headwind as we rounded the corner onto Snell Parade after 6.5km.

There are moments in every race where you have to dig deeper, this was one of them, and I did not. My pace edged slower, and the PB edged further away. At around 8km there was a sprint challenge. You could win Puma vouchers. Those vouchers were safe, sprinting was out of the question. As we rounded the final corner at Suncoast, I caught a glimpse of the finish 500m away. Suddenly my legs found new energy and bounded down the home straight. Somehow, I beat my previous PB by four seconds. Four seconds was nowhere near enough to win the bet, but that did not matter. Every runner knows how good it feels to better their PB.

Two Ugandans, Joshua Cheptegei and Mercyline Chelangat, not only got PBs but also won their races. Their other-worldly times of 27:28 and 31:37 both broke the previous Ugandan national records. Mercyline was extremely close to the 31:33 Elana Meyer ran in Durban in 1991. At the finish, a group of Stella Stars recounted race stories and cooled down in the shade or went for a swim in the sea. I will definitely enter this race again next year, and make another bet.

Chasing Amanda through the 21km of Township to Township

By: Zethembiso (Nana) Nxumalo

Township to Township Marathon 2017 KwaMashu to Umlazi – the only township with its own number plate NUZ. The 21km starts in Chesterville on Harry Gwala Road. It is one of KZN’s most popular and cheapest races on the calendar. The race was meant to start at 5:30am but was three minutes late which meant you received a text with three minutes shaved off of the stadium clock.

This is a tough course, end of story! Few things to note you cross the N2 three times after Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital, the most scenic is the Woodhaven crossing with the NPC cement plant behind and ocean view between Bluff and Wentworth as you summit to the highest point. The loveliest is the hardest with its green trees and crisp fresh air running along Yellowwood Park. Of course, we suffered FOMO as people were still partying away at the tavern across the Seaview train station at 6:20am. The Kenyon Howden Road drop can give you vertigo, you get a chance to decide to either roll or save your knees. The least eventful part is the South Coast Road stretch leading to Lamontville township with its cheerful spectators which is a vast contrast to the leafy suburbs prior.

The third and the last time you cross the N2 is over a bend 5km to the finish in which you climb Griffith Mxenge Highway, by now you are wasted, you want it to end, so you dig deeper for a second wind. At the 1km to go mark we were shaken up by a belly-up dead goat, but once recovered we were greeted by KwaMnyandu Shopping Mall spectators hanging over the balconies that ushered us home.  Of course, like all good things in life,  there is a little 60m bump at the end that takes you to the stadium gate. Water tables were aplenty and there were enough marshals along the route. I would say, do it once and experience Durban and its people.

Fast facts:

  1. First person home: 1:07:33
  2. Last person 5:15:49
  3. Youngest: 15 years old
  4. Oldest: 76 years old
  5. 807 finishers

Stella 21km finishers:

  • 01:32:22 Simphiwe Phillip Ntombila
  • 01:49:01 Matthew Dray
  • 01:57:31 Amanda Botes
  • 02:08:52 Zethimbiso (Nana) Nxumalo
  • 02:12:33 Philani Msomi
  • 02:22:48 Simphiwe Khumalo
  • 02:31:32 Phaghiswe Damini
  • 02:36:27 Lindokuhle Mabika

PDAC Time Trial – Walking Stars Report

By: Michael Mostert

On 21st September the “ Stella Walking Stars” who I have aptly named, lined up with another 240 athletes for the PDAC leg of the Mizuno/Durban Runner Time Trial League at Lahee Park. For the first time in three years there was no torrential downpour, so at least we were in for a dry walk.

For the first time in time trial history, the Stella walkers outnumbered the Stella runners, with five of us lining up at the start line to pound the streets of Pinetown.

Our walkers were awesome with our motivational encourager Zethembiso (Nana) Nxumalo finishing in 5th position in 29 minutes, followed by the ever reliable Wendy Coleman in 8th place, a mere 8 seconds behind Nana. Mike came in 10th place in 30 min and 4 seconds, chased down by our speedy Frankie (11th position) in 31 min and 38 seconds, and our comeback kid Terrence 1st time trial in 2017 in 33.48  in 12th position. Stella walking stars finished only 1 min 11 seconds behind the first placed team DHSOB.

Stella walking stars have now cemented themselves into 3rd place on the log, a mere 8 points behind Queenburgh Harriers A team and 13 points ahead of PDAC. Queenburgh Harriers will be looking over their shoulders rather nervously at the Stella walkers slowly reeling them in. I am sure they will bring out their big guns at the next league. I say, bring it on!

Nana was lucky enough to walk away with a lucky draw prize which was well deserved after an amazing walk.

I am so proud of the Stella Walking Stars team. Bring on the next time trial league, we are ready!

Yours in walking with purpose,
 
The Proud Mike Mostert

Queensburgh Harriers Mineshaft 15km

By Matthew Dray

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I was close to bailing for Mineshaft on Sunday morning.

Saturday night’s weather wasn’t very encouraging, I’d just had Flu and I was hoping my sister Amanda would be the one to cancel. She didn’t.

We ended up on a cold Sunday morning at the race just before the 6am start. Before I began running I’d heard other runners say it was all worth it once you were on the road, but thought they were in denial. How could you be happy getting up at 4am, to get ready for a run in the rain? I was wrong, it truly is fantastic once you’re there! People get different things out of their run, but whatever it is for you, it’ll keep you coming back if you run a few races.

Although the race wasn’t too long, it wasn’t an easy 15kilometres. There are a lot of hills through Queensburgh and I ended up walking on quite a few of them. The marshalls and supporters helped us through the tough parts, and it’s great to know people young and old, are willing to be there just to help us. Just under 500 people showed despite the weather, and I think those who didn’t ended up with some serious FOMO, especially after it stopped raining before the start.

My final time was 1:18:41 which I was happy with even though a walker beat me (I’ve learnt to accept this). Before I started running I couldn’t do 3km without my heart racing and definitely didn’t consider myself a runner. I started training properly in January and the Tuesday and Thursday runs plus Gillies have helped improve my times.

At the finish the Stella guys were in high spirits with no casualties. The tent was there despite needing a rescue by Neville on Saturday night during the mini cyclone. Although the Harriers bacon egg roll wasn’t up to a Sean Mullins one, the organisers did a pretty good job with all the extras.

There were some decent prizes but Stella members only left with a case of water and R500 off of a GHD straightening iron. Don’t worry guys, I’m sure we’ll have better luck next time.

I’d like to thank the Stella team for their motivation and commitment. There are a lot of people behind the scenes setting up tents, sorting out beers and braais and making sure that the club functions. You guys are great.

I’m happy to say I now consider myself a runner, and I haven’t given up. The result is a happier and healthier person who now enjoys a 4am wake up to run in the rain. I’d encourage everyone to do it.

SAPS Striders Heritage Challenge – More than just a Half-Marathon

By: Bronwyn Blades

I ran this race as my first ever half- marathon in September 2015, under a temporary license and always wanted to come back and do it again. Having recently joined Stella Athletic Club, and under the watchful eye of Dave in his Running Newbies group, I decided I was ready to take on the half-marathon again this year.

The registration process was somewhat disorganised, over both Friday and Saturday, which lead to many questioning how things were going to go on race day. However, Sunday morning dawned overcast and quite warm by comparison to recent weeks. The race venue, Kings Park Athletic Stadium, was well laid out and Dave, Sean and Sandy had put up the Stella Gazebo ahead of time. We noticed though that there didn’t seem to be as many participants as in previous years, which was disappointing considering that this race is flat and fast, and should therefore be accessible to most runners.

I was nervous lining up at the start, realising that this was quite a bit further than I had run recently. The race was a two lap event, starting in Masabalala Yengwa Avenue, doing a short loop on that road, before heading down to the beach front via Blue Lagoon. The turning point was along the beach promenade, just past the SAPS police station. For me, it was quite tough mentally to know that I had to do the same lap twice – I think I prefer a point to point race. Dave was a star! He kept a steady pace, encouraged me along the way and just kept me going. I am not sure I would have made it without him but I was so delighted to finish!

This race was always going to more than just a half-marathon to me. Shortly after I ran it in 2015, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I finished treatment last year and since then have been determined to get back to where I was in 2015. So for me, Sunday represents a milestone. I am two years older, a little heavier, and probably a lot slower – but I am back. Healthy, happy and on the road again.

Thank you Stella for being so welcoming and supportive and especially to Dave – I couldn’t have done it without you!