Running Tips

Tips from Dr. Mat – August 2021

Dr. Grant Matkovich

Dear Runners,

Stretching for runners is always a good thing. However, to stretch correctly is not always easy.

Here are some tips on how to correctly stretch the quads (front of the thigh) and hamstring (back of the thigh) muscles.

These muscles are used a lot with runners and always need same attention!

Quadriceps

Important to stretch this muscle if you have runners knee (pain in the front of the knee behind the kneecap, with a feeling that the back of your knee cap is grinding against the knee joint).

Tips to do it correctly:

  • Remember to balance / stabilize yourself with your other hand by holding onto a chair or a wall.
  • Make sure your knee is next to your other knee when you are stretching.
  • Make sure your upper body / torso is up right, ideally with your lower back slightly arched.

You should feel the stretch in the front of your thigh with the most of the stretch in the thigh slightly above the knee.

Add this stretch into your routine after you have done hill sessions or an especially hilly route as your quads work hard when running up hill.

If you are unable to balance or stand on your one leg you can change position to lying down on your side. Shown below.

Hamstrings

Always tight with runners, just try touch your toes with your legs straight!

This is a good stretch for runners with hamstrings that cramp often or with burning pain around your “bum bones”, the bones you sit on.

Tips to doing this stretch correctly:

  • Keep your pelvis straight with the floor, don’t ‘hike your pelvis.
  • Take both hands (not just one) down the leg on the side being stretched this will help stretch the whole hamstring muscle.
  • Bend your back forward over the leg being stretched this will help isolate the hamstring muscle more.

Like the quad muscles hold this stretch for 30s and repeat 3 times. Its best to do both sides even if the other side is not injured / tight/ giving issues.

This stretch can be painful. The ideal stretch is to find the position that is comfortable but not yet uncomfortable.

This stretch needs to be done regularly to increase hamstring flexibility which will help reduce low back and glute (butt) muscle pain when running.

Next time will be tips on how to stretch glute muscles.

2021 PDAC 25km

Siba Tyu

It is true that sometimes in life it’s the unexpected that will bring you true joy.  Here is my story of how I got to run the Pinetown & District Athletics Club’s 25km race. 

Friday 16 April 2021

It was a normal Friday afternoon at the office where I was wrapping up my work and looking forward to the usual 21km weekend long run the next day. Little did I know that I was in for a wonderful surprise.  Gerald, a fellow Stella Star had unfortunately encountered an injury and offered me his entry to run the PDAC 25 which was taking place on Sunday 18th April 2021.  I accepted with extreme excitement.  We contacted the race organisers and the Event Timing staff to arrange for the change of details.  I must say that I was very impressed with how efficient, polite and helpful they were.  By the time I left the office, I had received all the emails and an sms confirming my participation at the race.

Saturday 17 April 2021

Saturday morning I woke up and drove up to Lahee Park in Pinetown to collect the race pack and goodie bag.  Lahee Park is where we were to find the finish line of the race the next morning.  I had never taken part in this race before, and up until Saturday morning I had never set foot at Lahee Park before either.  This for me was unknown territory.   I had hoped to have time to drive along the route on Saturday, but I struggled to find someone to accompany me who knew the race route at such short notice. 

It was now Saturday afternoon, and to sum it all up to this point, 24 Hours ago I did not even know that I’d be running this race, and 24 Hours from now I’ll be running the race without knowing the route.  It was at this point that the good old race jitters set in.  It has been over a year since one had to carry out the “Night before race prep”.  One by one I ticked the items off the preparation list, starting with the kit, nutrition, transport, alarm clock and all the way down to the last but very important cup of coffee before the race.  I was also fortunate to have a last minute chat with a few Stella Stars about the race, race profile and their previous experience. This proved to be very valuable for me on race day.

Race Day: Sunday 18 April 2021

My alarm clock worked as advertised and I got up in time, had my cup of coffee and started my 30 minute drive to Watercrest Mall.  The song on repeat for this drive was Adele – When we were young.  Now I know what you’re thinking, but let me just say that the song gets me going, ok. J

The atmosphere at the start line and waiting area was nothing short of electrifying.  As we drove into the mall, one could see the road closure signs, cones and the red and white tape.  After such a long, difficult year of the pandemic it suddenly dawned on me that this race is actually happening. This was exciting.  Apart from a handful of runners who were doing their warm up drills outside, the rest used the isles inside the mall as a waiting area as the temperature outside was reported to be around 12 degrees Celsius. 

Everyone was so happy, friendly and greeting with big smiles. I was excited to be part of this race, not only because it was a first of many post the pandemic, but also because this was my first official race as a Stella Athletics Club member.  It felt good to see other Stella Stars in their kit and to wish each other well for the race.  

At exactly 05:30 the air horn went off and the race began.  The early start was definitely advantageous as this allowed us all more time to cover some ground before sunrise.  The advice I had received from my fellow club mates came in handy right at this point.  As advised, I ran the first 5 km gently as it was gradually climbing from the start line towards Hillcrest, and I held back on the pace once I was on the downhills.  I believe that this approach definitely spared me from possible injury and allowed me to enjoy the race in its entirety.

I had also been made aware of the two (2) hills that I was to face approximately 3 km from the finish line.  Armed with this knowledge, I reserved 10 to 20% of my effort throughout the race so that I would have enough energy to summit these hills.  I was happy to find that the strategy worked out as planned.  When I approached the hills, I gave it my all and manage to climb both hills without walking.  In fact, I ran the whole race without stopping once for a walk to recover.  After the climb, only 2km remained.  Running into the stadium and seeing the finish line always gives one that extra push and a burst of energy.  And just like that, the race was done.

One thing that was unusual and clearly notable was the absence of crowds of spectators and other athletes post-race. 

Runners were instructed to wear their masks after crossing the finish line and also were encouraged not to hang around at the stadium so as to observe the Covid-19 regulations. 

I am glad that many did observe these regulations, and do truly hope and believe that this race and the way it was organised will open doors for many more sporting events to come.  I finished the race at a time of 02:14:59.  I have set a sub 2 goal for this race for next year and would definitely recommend it to any runner to come and experience it for themselves. 

Happy Running.

Heidi’s new heights!

Heidi Groenewald

I turned 40 during 2020. We had just gone into hard lockdown 4 days before the big Four Oh and I had to cancel my fortieth birthday/house warming party. We moved into our new house on the 6th March and were so busy with house hunting, bond applications and packing and unpacking that my dream of being forty and fabulous had fallen along the wayside and I ended up celebrating my birthday being forty and fat!

Needless to say, we were all bored and had to find ways to keep sane during these crazy times. And this is probably where you are thinking that I decided to start running. Nope, I decided to indulge in one of my other pleasures….baking! And along with hubby’s love for cooking I grew even more fabulously fat!

Isn’t it amazing how we only notice what we really look like when looking at pictures? And during November 2020 I saw a picture of me that made me realise that I needed to find a hobby other than baking. A friend of mine was going through a weight loss journey at the same time and gifted me with a weight loss coach and an eating plan. Part of this weight loss program was having to make at least 10 000 steps a day. Ten thousand!? How was I going to do this when most of my day was spent sitting on my office chair in front of a computer!? Queue the running!!

I was serious about being forty and fabulous and went digging through my drawers to find the smart watch which hubby had bought for me more than a year ago. Hauled out my running shoes, which I had only used for gardening up until now. The plan was to start running with Ronnie, but I just never seemed to get around it. Life was always getting in the way and with three very busy kids, two of them being very sporty boys, there just never seemed to be enough time in a day. I decided that the only way that this was going to happen was for me to get up earlier. This being a struggle in itself as I am no early bird. But like clockwork I would get up every morning and jump on the treadmill in the corner of our room to try and get as many steps as I could before my day started. Headphones on and in the dark as Ronnie was still sleeping. I was oblivious to my thud, thud, thud, thud on the treadmill. Ronnie not so much! And on the 17th November 2020 he promptly decided that he would have to get up and do this with me….there was no sleeping through my thudding….but there was one condition….we were going to do it his way. I was secretly petrified knowing that he had completed three half marathons and was very chuffed with himself that he could run 13,5kms without stopping!

He downloaded an app called Couch2 5K on my phone and off we went every morning for me to train to run 5kms without stopping. Because I had to make 10 000 steps every day as part of my weight loss plan, we had no rest days. But this worked for me as routine and a new habit set in very quickly. I am a very organised person and routine is what makes me tick! And on the 27th December 2020 I ran my first 5kms without stopping! (And I lost 9kgs in the process!)

Getting up to go run had become easy and within two days we started the 10K training program. But the running wasn’t getting easier. It was getting hotter by the day and I literally felt like there was going to be nothing left of me by the end of each run. No energy and no fluids. But I pushed through each run.

Finally the day arrived on the 7th February 2020! I was going to do this! Ronnie decided that my first long run should be on the promenade. Just to make it a bit easier. Our son Daemien decided to run with us this day. It was really hot and my legs felt like lead. Admittedly I only start feeling comfortable after about 5kms into a run. But today was not getting easier. Daemien is just a natural runner and was a couple of steps ahead of me without having trained at all. Ronnie wasn’t having a good day and started battling at around 5kms. Daemien was ahead and Ronnie was falling behind. I was struggling in the heat and my legs were failing me. Was I going to give up and start walking with Ronnie? After all, he has always held back so that I can keep up. The urge to just start walking and the heat was just getting too much. My mind started taking over. I have trained so hard to get here and would have to wait a whole week before I could attempt this again. There is just not enough time in the mornings before work and school. And I had already started bragging to everyone about doing this ….no backing out now!

I asked Daemien to go check on Ronnie and he came back and told me that Ronnie was okay and said I must just go. Knowing that he was fine and no longer feeling guilty for leaving him behind put my mind at ease. And at around 7kms I just found my rhythm. Somehow my body just kept going and I managed to find a comfortable pace. By the time I reached Suncoast (running toward Bike & Bean, being the finish) it was extremely hot and I tried to keep to the shade as much as I possibly could. My legs no longer felt like they belonged to me. I remember thinking that I hope I don’t trip and fall down in front of Bike & Bean. And somehow I made it, past everyone relaxing and sipping their coffee and enjoying their breakfast, without face planting. I made it and I still had my own legs, although they felt like jelly at the time. I made it, although I had planned to divorce Ronnie many times in my head when he made me run hills. I had run 10kms without stopping!

And who knows….maybe there is a 21km on my horizon (with Ronnie by my side!)

For The Love of Running

When you love running as much as I do, it is very difficult to rein yourself in when you need to!

2019 was where it all came together. I had completed the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon as well as the Cape Town Marathon, which was a highlight in my running career.  I had achieved two massive goals and nothing could go wrong….or so I thought!!!  At the end of that 2019 year I was enjoying a training run, a week prior to the DHS 10km. After the run I could feel a niggle in my right knee but didn’t want to overthink it although it didn’t seem to want to go away. 

The day of the DHS 10km arrived, I was still sore. My wife said rest, 10km is not worth an injury,  BUT I had to run. So off I went and unfortunately near the end as I entered the Crusaders ground my knee locked and it was over.  After lots of rest the swelling subsided but I still couldn’t run. I went to my specialist and had an MRI scan which confirmed I needed an op. 

It was a slow, long haul that for me felt like forever. All I wanted to do was hit the road but even a walk was too much.  After many motivational talks on my wife’s part, I listened and rested, took it slow and thankfully Stella began a beginners group which I started running with. It was the best thing I could have done.  It kept me in check and helped regain the strength I needed to finally get back to where I needed to be, to run again without pain. 

The moral of my long story is like running a marathon you need a plan, strength and endurance and this will help you get to the finish line, but life seems to throw curve balls all the time and you need a plan, strength and endurance to get through it as I had to do to get over my injury.  Always listen to your body, respect it and rest it when need be, for the love of running!

  – Gerald Van Wyk

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.

“Twinkle, twinkle Stella Star, please be visible from afar!”

By Sandy Mullins

Road running is great fun, and especially when we run as a club, at training runs, races or even alone, there is a running law to adhere to for one’s safety. There have been too many incidences of late, and for new runners as well as experienced runners, it’s good to be reminded of running etiquette.

  • Always run into oncoming traffic, so that you and drivers are aware of each other. The only time it is advisable to run with the traffic is if there is a foot path on that side only. We don’t need to play dodgem cars and chicken!
  • You need to be able to hear what is going on around you. Avoid running with earpieces in your ears and music blaring in your brains. If you really have to, turn it down and only wear one ear piece, so that you can be aware of your surroundings. Most races do not allow it.
  • “Light and bright at night”! Especially during winter, you need to be visible! MIB’s (Men in Black) might be cool, but you are not visible! These days you get really great running tops that are reflective, and just plain white T’s is also advisable.
  • If you intend changing direction, cross a road, or come to an intersection make sure you signal clearly where you intend going. Often drivers are looking right to cross into a road you are in, they do not see you coming and many a runner has met a car by accident. Rather run around vehicles than presume that you have been seen.
  • Early birds and late runners need to be very aware of drivers who could be fatigued or under the influence. Some drivers have no respect for runners, and they own the road rather than share it. We too need to realise that we don’t have exclusive rights to the road either and have to either run in the verge or preferably on the pavement.  Rather assume that all drivers are bad and have not seen you. Be safe not sorry!
  • Be courteous and acknowledge drivers who have made an effort to give way to your athletic efforts. Swearing and cursing drivers is a no no! We also have to honour our club – we want to draw people not chase them away!
  • If you are not well or intend to cut short, please let someone know so that runners don’t wait for a no show. We have had an incident where a new runner collapsed and it could have been serious if it were not for a guardian angel who came to her rescue. Run responsibly!
  • Sadly, these days, running alone is not always an option. There have been numerous accounts of runners being accosted, and some not so nice experiences. If you have no alternative, make sure you run in daylight and on roads that are popular to avoid unwanted company. Ideally join us at Stella or run with a mate, and make sure your route is known to the special people in your life.
  • With the challenges of Covid, be responsible and look after yourself and your running mates. Its not compulsory to wear a mask while training, but afterwards – be safe, not sorry!

These few simple points can make your running experience a lot more pleasurable. Let’s arrive alive and in one piece, and come back for more tar therapy because we can!!

What a year 2020!

By Ian Tait

So, with great dreams and hopes, 2020 was going to be a year to be remembered with all the goals I wanted to achieve. Trying to top 2019 was going to be a tough ask, but hey, if your dreams don’t scare you, you’re not living…

2020 will always be known for Covid19 and the year the world nearly shut down. To Runners it will always be remembered as the year Garmin was down for 3 days 😊

So, my first challenge for the year was to do a Triathlon, and going to visit my wife in Qatar seemed like the perfect place to do one, nobody to see me thrash, splash and panic swim my way in the ocean, then get onto a bike “Gasp” runners don’t free wheel… and then run how hard could it be. Well, don’t believe anybody when they say the desert does not get cold, I happened to visit during the coldest winter in 20 years. I should have realised there was an omen on the brew…

Race day arrives, I’m ready to race and my hire bike is nowhere to be found. Panic! 20 minutes before the start it arrives with a flat tyre. More Panic! No problem for another bike hire company, they see this and take the wheel of my hire bike and replace it with one of theirs, such awesome customer service. I now go off to the pens and am stressing only for this awesome lady to come to me and says, “Ahh Stella, are you from Durban?” I was wearing my new Stella Club T-Shirt. Relief knows no bounds, she said she’s from Toti but lives in Doha now and will sort my stuff out and took my bike my kit bag and chased me off to start the swim. (2 minutes before the start)

In brief, I get to the doc, and jump into the water, and just about died, 17c. I should have worn the wetsuit. Anyways 850m later, on the 750m swim I get the end and drag my sorry frozen self out of the water. The life savers seemed relieved as I thought they were going to jump in after me a few times… My angel from Toti is waiting for me, to direct me to my bike. I dry off get changed and remembered to put the helmet on, NB don’t forget the helmet, or your race is done. With Meganne cheering on from the side line it was on your bike for 20km.

So, I go as fast as I can, when I say Doha is flat, there is literally no hills, unless it is manmade. I’m in top gear and passing cyclists even some of those on TT Bikes and thinking this is easy. The bike section is done in no time and I think imagine if I could run this fast… I rack the bike, take off the helmet and I hit the road, 5km in the bag! Well, let me tell you a little story, that none of the Triathletes I spoke to for advice told me about. You need to rest your legs before the end of the bike, or they turn to jelly. For the first 3km, someone else’s legs were running for me, don’t know who, but thank you anyway. I was so fast, in those other persons legs, Meganne did not even see me finish.

After the adventure in Qatar, it was back home, to run Loskop and Tour D’ Durban a week later, all carefully coordinated by Craig George, ensuring I’m resting, training following the coach’s orders. Then we heard those dreaded words, “My Fellow South Africans”

Level 5 and the start of garden running, well thank the Lord for Trail Running as this is exactly what it was, round and around and around you would go. 5km is 45 minutes, like what on earth. Anyway this continues, Loskop is cancelled, then Oceans and we stay locked up. So, Debbie Wessels gets a bright idea and challenges me to run 42,2km around my house for her Cape Town Spending money, to donate to a charity of my choice. Mmmm, Ok, let raise some funds for those that are really struggling through these extraordinary times. The big day arrives and I start out and I run, and run, change direction and run, my dog Captain starts running with me but decides after about 5 minutes, this is crazy. I messaged Debbie about three hours into the run just on 20km to say this is madness and she calmly replies, you got this! Seven hours and fifty odd minutes later 479 laps around the house I finish with a swan dive into the pool. Note for future races in 2025, a pool to finish in is a great idea. Total raised for charity R10k!

Eventually Level 4 and Level 3 came to be, and we could venture out the yards and into the streets. Well who know there were so many dog walkers and runners in Glenwood. It was fantastic to see people and the some of those new faces are still at it.

Comrades was still up in the air and then boom cancelled and many a roadie’s heart was broken. That Comrades Dream, gone! Fear not along came Virtual Races and Comrades had a great idea, run, just not the race and run it from anywhere, just stay safe. I must admit, that although it will never compete with the vibe of Comrades, the trot up Botha’s Hill to The Wall and back with all the other runners on the road, was special. 21.1km Comrades, might be a great idea for the future.

I decided it was time to run an international event and what a better race than that of The Hawaii Marathon. So training started in earnest, with the help of the Stella Morning Group, known as the “Early Birds” keeping Stella out of any liabilities with the you know who. Nobody else was going to run, so I mapped out a route, Surf Riders to Umhlanga and back would be along the coast and give a semi feel of the tropical island of Hawaii. Then Alistair Green offered to come and run with Petra as our support on 27km. This was going to be a race with no water tables, time starts and only stops at the end. The day started off overcast and things were looking up, first 10km in an hour, and we work our way to The Pier, a quick photo shot as one does and we turn for home.

By this time Durban decides to show off and the sun comes out blazing. Alistair kept say, on the way back, Petra will be at Caltex in Forest Drive with refreshments, and we could not wait to get there fast enough. A well-deserved 10-minute break change of shirt, food and cold drinks, and it was 15km to go, home stretch. As we all know too well that promenade can be brutal, the last 8km was no hell, but know there was a huge Chocolate Milkshake at the end was the reward. Hawaii Completed 4:42 and change, two very happy Stella runners.

Running it a great fun and running with friends makes it so much more fun. Always find a friend that will be willing to deal with your whinging, has a sense of humour and will encourage you to keeping going.

 Then a friend of mine in Pretoria messaged me to say why don’t we do a trail run in the mountains, seeing that these races are open. We looked and found one in December enough time to trail, only 40km and 1600m of elevation. Pat Freeman told me about Norther Drakensberg Trail last year, that she ran and loved it. #DNT2020 it was going to be.

On Saturday the 5th of December my good friend Jenny Cairns from Irene Running Club started the daunting task of #DNT2020. Knowing that this was an Andrew Booth race, KZN Trail Running, it would be spectacular but tough. Stella was well represented with Shantelle and Brett Walters, Pat Freeman and Margie all taking on the 20km event as well.

The day started off cold, wet and misty, a blessing is disguise as we never really saw what lay ahead of us. Sometimes the mist was so thick, we had to search for the markers to proceed forward. Jenny and I started off nicely, evenly paced, and we banked on 8kph, we should have more than enough in the bag for the 11H30 (6 Hour Cut Off on 25km) Boy were we wrong! We climbed, climbed some more and then climbed again, trying not to walk off the ridge to certain pain and death! Roadies, I’m being dramatic, trail running is the best running to improve your road running, I promise, take it from a runner that could barely break 7 minute a kilometre two years back.

We got to the 25km mark with 30 minutes to spare, time for a break, food at the aid station before taking on Vultures Pass. (460m long, 179m high and 24 minutes of climbing at 38% gradient)

By this time, it was bucketing down with rain but eventually we get to the top and start working our way back to the start. The mist slowly started to lift and the sun game out to reveal the Sterkfontein Dam in all its glory on our left and The Royal Natal Park on our right. The beauty can’t be described in words, not by me anyway.

We found a straggler from Durban Old Boys, and he tagged along for the last 14km that felt like an eternity, we were convinced that we would be stone last, but it was not about where you finished, but finishing the challenge that counts. When the results came out, we were only 5th from last, to a good result none the less 😊 Race Result: 40,5km in a time of 09:36:12 and 1970m of Elevation!

As the year draws to an end, and the uncertainty that the future holds with regards to races next year, I would like to thank all my running friends and supporters for being there for me this year. To all my fellow Stella friends and running friends from elsewhere, my advice is pick something that scares you, set the goal, enter, train and always wear sun screen!

Here’s to 2021.

From Walker to Runner: A Tribute to Dave Beatie

By: Ronnie Groenewald

2 years ago I phoned Stella and asked if I could join in some sessions as I tried running in the park but ended up with more injuries than gains. Pat Freeman suggested that I start with the walkers. I met Dave there as he had been walking instead of running due to an injury. I told him one day I would really would like to run.

After some basic training sessions Dave suggested I do a club time trial. I came stone dead last with a time close to 50 minutes in pouring rain but he told me these words which probably changed my life: “We going to make an athlete out of You”. Why these words meant so much to me at the time was because I’m 1,89 meters tall and at that time weighed over 125 kg. I was built more like a tractor than a athlete.

This started my running and weight loss journey from 125 kg+ all the way down to 105 kg doing Durban Runner 21 km. All these milestone but I still didn’t complete my biggest: I wanted to run. All the races we did we always walk/run and Dave never cared once about his own time but rather encouraged and helped and almost dragging me over the finish line when I wanted to give up, he never gave up and always pushed me. We did a Saturday Stella Gillies once and we walked from the club all the way to the top at Maris Stella and told me: “one day You will run up this hill” I thought he was full of nonsense as I was out of breath just walking it.

When we were in Level 5 Lockdown I was fortunate to have a treadmill and didn’t have to run around my garden. I decided I am going to a do a couch to 5 km program so that I can run for  5 km. I finally accomplished this goal in June 2020 on the road. It was a small personal accomplishment but I was over the moon. I decided to step it up and start another 17 week beginners program.

Today, 15 August 2020 I went out to do a 13 km (as per my program). I ran past Musgrave Centre and usually I need to start walking there but I felt good so just kept on plodding along (remember tractor size not Superbike). Before I knew it I was right next to entrance of Maris Stella and realised I just conquered a hill Dave told me one day I will be able to run. I realised all I achieved in these last 2 years thanks to his encouraging words and support and guidance. I ended up running through hilly Morningside all the way home, 13.5 km without a walk conquering every hill and every step.

Thank you Dave Beattiie for being there for the beginner runners. Today I honestly felt like I achieved that athlete status you spoke about 2 years ago.