Events

Making it happen!

The lockdown due to the epidemic has caused worldwide havoc triggering everything to come to a grinding halt. Who would have thought a few month’s ago that there would be silence – no working, no socialising, and no sport. Almost like a sci-fi movie, which is quite scary. For sports lovers it was crazy not to watch any live coverage or participate in sport, as event after event was cancelled. Comrades was no exception, and it was heart breaking especially for novices who would have experienced the “Ultimate Human Race” for the first time on the 14th June. Having the virtual Comrades was a good initiative allowing thousands to experience the sensation of being a part of the brand. The shorter options were popular, especially having limited training. But there were those that went the full hog, even though it will not be officially recognised, but “in for a penny, in for a pound”. One such Stella athlete who would have lined up as a novice, did the 90k journey and deserves kudos for a brilliant effort.

Greg Conti, along with his mate Richard Jenkin ran from Glenwood through Berea, Morningside down to the beachfront, and along the promenade and back again, four times over! The journey was completed in under eleven hours to family and friends cheering them home. To do this on your own in a sense, with not experiencing the vibe of spectators lining the route throughout, no Big Five but the same training route four times is quite impressive.

Hats off Greg, this is an amazing achievement and gutsy, you “Dared to Dream” and you did it! Next year you will fly down to Durban and into the stadium with thousands welcoming you home! We salute you.

Chairman’s Chirp

By Dave Beattie

Hello fellow Stars

It’s hard to believe that we are already in mid-March, dusting ourselves down after having successfully hosted the Stella AC leg of the Time Trial League in February and our Marshalls World of Sport Stella Royal in early March. Both events were massively successful and certainly reinforced the club’s position as one of the premier athletic clubs in KZN. Neither of these events would have been possible without the fantastic team that we have. To Kevin and his core team, thank you for your dedication to the club. To anyone who helped in any way, thank you for your valuable time and effort. The Marshalls World of Sport Stella Royal would also not have been possible without our core sponsor Marshalls World of Sport and the involvement of Discovery Vitality. Thank you to them and all our sponsors for supporting us in very difficult economic times. We are not letting grass grow under our feet and are already planning to make the 2021 race even better.

We are entering a very important training period for all those athletes who are running Comrades this year. The training will be ramped up and there will be a wide variety of long runs available to our members. Sandy will keep you all informed of all the weekly training options available. The Weekend Warriors will not be neglected during this time though. We will be putting on shorter routes for the runners not doing Comrades, but training for shorter races.

Last month at the Hillcrest 42 / 21 kilometre race there was an outcry on social media about the littering during the race.  As runners, we are blessed to run races in the most beautiful parts of our country, and it is therefore totally unacceptable that our environment is abused in that way. KZNA has vowed to clamp down on littering by disqualifying the perpetrators. As Stella AC we need to take the lead in this regard and ensure that we are not a contributor to the littering problem. I would be very upset if I were to be notified of any Stella athlete who had been seen littering during a race. I believe that we all have a responsibility to call out fellow Stella athletes who litter. This is the only way that we are going to stop this unacceptable practice. The committee will not hesitate to take the appropriate action against any athlete who brings our club into disrepute by being caught littering. Please feel free to report any such sightings to anyone on the committee and we will take the appropriate action.

We are all aware of the impact that social media has on the speed at which information travels. Within minutes thousands of people could see a post. Whilst this has its advantages it is the disadvantages that I would like to focus on. Posting something without forethought or in anger can have serious consequences. Bringing this concept back to club level I urge all members to refrain from posting opinions or comments that could bring the club into disrepute. If any member has a grievance or concern about any club or running matter, they are requested to approach a committee member about the issue.  The matter will be investigated, and prompt feedback given. As with the littering situation, any inappropriate social media posts could result in the member being brought before the committee to explain their actions.  As a committee, we would like to avoid any such unpleasantness.

For those members who do not come to the club on a regular basis, I am excited to announce the opening of our new Den. A lot of time and effort was put in by all concerned to get the project completed and Den opened before our race. The project is not finished yet and small improvements will continue to be made over the coming months. Members are welcome to send the committee any ideas that they feel would further add to the look or functionality of the Den. We will shortly be launching a competition in which members will be asked to come up with a name for our Den.

To finish on a positive note, it is fantastic to see all the new members who are running at our club nights. New faces are vital for keeping a club on an upward trajectory. Welcome to all those new members and we look forward to seeing you on the road.

Happy running.

DIPPING UNDER 3 (Hippo Marathon)

By Siya Ngcobo

Siya

 

It had to happen! The barrier that had been on my mind since the beginning of 2020, I had no choice but to run a Sub 3 marathon. Runners might find it arrogant, but my mind was made up, I was going to go to Richards Bay on the 22nd of February 2020 and run a marathon in under 3 hours, so please allow me to share the best 2 hours and 55 minutes of my running life.

In August 2019 after the Mandela marathon, Gcina and I decided to go run Hippo Marathon in Richards Bay the following year because we had great reviews about the course, flat they said, they lied to us! There is no such thing as a flat marathon especially after 38km where a speed hump feels like a hill.

We left Durban on Friday at 12:04 and were at our destination in no time, collected and whined about not having plastic sachets on route, especially with 34° expected on race day. Oscar was kind enough to show us the route so we could strategize. I find it easier to run when I know what’s coming. At 6:20pm on Friday we did a 4km jog at 4:22/km to stretch our legs and get a feel of the roads and the air in Richards Bay, found the humidity not to be as bad as Durban, and that made me happy.  We got back to the hotel and prepared our drinks, but we had a challenge as no one was there to second us. Oscar was kind enough to find someone to do that job, but that was a disaster as we only met the guy 15 minutes before the start. He could not process the information fast enough to do an efficient job (we only met him at 27km for the first time), he popped up at 38km when I was expecting him at 32km, was already running on grit at that time but that caffeine GU gel was heavenly when I got it at 38km. Now this is how the whole race went.

The gun went and I said “Valar Morghulis”, Game of Thrones fans will know these words very well, but at that moment I was prepared for a battle, the battle of dipping under Sub 3. In racing terms, you only have to maintain 4:15/km for 42.195km to finish in 2:59:59, I had bigger plans than that. I had told myself that every part of the race must be like a training session, and had planned to replicate all my sessions in one race. As soon as the race starts you climb a monster 350m hill, my mind went into Hill repeat mode and I was done with it without any trouble, I knew that the next 13km was flat and undulating with gentle climbs popping up now and again, these gentle climbs became monsters in the second lap. The first half went well, I could stay at 3:55 without breaking a sweat and put the hammer down to 3:45 on gentle downhills. I had expected our guy to be waiting for us with the magic stuff at 12km, but “dololo” he was nowhere to be found, bought time and only took the GU gel I had with me after 15km, felt the magic as I crossed the halfway point at 1:22:50, climbed the 350m hill at 4:05/km and went on cruise mode trying to stay at 4:00/km.

My face lit up when I met our drinks man at 27km, took my second gel and decided to push a bit because I had expected to see him in the next 5km’s, but that was not the case. Went through the 30km mark in 1:59:35, that is when I knew that Sub 3hrs was in the bag, now it was a matter of how low can I dip under the magic figure, Sub 2:50 started to pop in my head but that all vanished when I got to 32km and did not get the most important gel in my race plan, I needed that high caffeine gel to turn me in to running lunatic. I did not know what to do, the temperature was rising with each stride, so I could overheat at any time and stop on the side of the road like an old Toyota (I drive one too). Decided to drop the pace to 4:30-4:35/km as I knew this would get me a 2:55 without much trouble.

Gcina came into this race carrying an injury, and when I started seeing him on the road, I knew he was in trouble, I ran with him for about 150m but he could not keep up, so seeing my running mate battle at a race messed up my head for a while but he told me to go, and that made me feel at ease with the decision of living him behind.

I got to 38km and I started to feel my legs getting heavier with each stride, it was getting hot, above 30° I reckon. I was in the dark hours, now the last 4km were a challenge but I started to think of the people who would be disappointed more than me if I did not get the Sub 3. I thought of my wife to be, my club Stella who have been supporting with kudos on Strava and just general encouragment, my head went back to a track session I did with a mad Surgeon Henry Van Niekerk, surely this last 4km is a breeze compared to that madness we did two weeks before Hippo. I do not remember the last 4km except asking people to move and leave the yellow line to me, I do not know what was that all about, but I just wanted to run in the yellow lane until I finished, and when I entered the finish point I said “Valar Dohaeris,” meaning “all men must serve.” I had served a 2:55:17 (2:54:43 official time) on a steaming hot day in Richards Bay, now let the “Chasing Silver” slogan take over in preparation for Comrades. I have dare to dream “Iphupho lam” and hope to achieve it.

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