Running

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.

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.

Hillcrest Marathon 2020

By Kathryn Watt

Kathryn - photo

 

Sometimes it feels like joining a running club is not so dissimilar to joining a cult. And no time does this seem truer than when waking up long before dawn, squeezing into spandex and heading out into the dark to run an unreasonable distance, at an unreasonable hour, with excited hordes of other equally-brainwashed- spandex-clad folk.

The start

Standing amidst the throng of excited runners at the start of the Hillcrest Marathon,
alongside the formidable figures of Brad, Coenie, Matt, and Sean, I wondered if I was going to make it to the end of the 42.2kms that lay ahead. In the weeks preceding the marathon,  I had continuously considered downscaling my entry to the half marathon. My training had not been as rigorous or focused as it had been for my first marathon the year before, and I didn’t feel as well prepared. But the time for hesitancy had passed and, 15 minutes later than expected, the start whistle blew and the crowd jostled forward, tightly packed and wafting the scent of deep heat and sunscreen. In a few minutes we had crossed the start line and Sean and my race began.

Lap 1

At only 3 kms in I already needed an inconvenient toilet break, I was not the only one and the wait for the portaloo was excruciating as valuable minutes ticked by. The woman in front of me eventually rapped curtly on the portaloo door – I admired her bravado – and finally it was my turn. I felt a relief only runners know and eagerly headed back onto the road.

“Roll it, don’t push it” chanted the 2:30 pacesetter as he led his bus cruising downhill. “Roll it, don’t push it” I responded as I hopped aboard for a kilometre or so, the vibe of the bus pulling me along.

Sean and I ran sometimes a few metres ahead of, and sometimes a few metres behind the indomitable Sandy and Kirsty, both of whom were enroute to 21.1km. Sandy suggested that to save our energy for the second lap we try keep behind her. Dutifully I lessened my pace, and from that moment was sure never to pass Sandy. When Sandy slowed, I slowed and when she and Kirsty sped off into the distance I did not try to keep up. Sandy’s sage advice gave me permission to walk before I was forced by tiredness to do so, and I am certain this was the reason I took so much pleasure in the race and did not succumb to undue suffering on Lap 2.

We passed beneath the green canopy of a glorious avenue of trees, admired the manicured lawns and sweeping views of the Hillcrest mansions, shared smiles and words of encouragement with marshals, slurped coke mixed with water, and bit by bit watched the kilometres melt away.

I knew we were nearing the end of our first lap when we saw some of our favourite runners bounding down the hill we were battling up – they were already on their second lap and making great time. Ahead of the race, I had wondered if I would be tempted to turn off at the 21.1km mark, but on the day I cruised past the turnoff with no inclination to end my race.

Lap 2

As we began our second lap we were joined by a fantastic Save Orion runner who was
hoping to qualify for Comrades, we formed a mini-bus of our own and encouraged each
other onwards. This interaction led me to quietly hope that Sean and I too could complete our race in under 4hrs50mins.

It was starting to heat up, sweat ran down the back of my neck, and my hamstrings stung. Tired and shuffling slowly up yet another hill, a festive table of Chillie runners encouraged me to keep pushing and laughingly teased that “Stella got her groove back!”
I was surprised how little I minded running the same route twice as the second lap presented new sights, sounds and sensations (including a rather unpleasant pain in my hip).

In the final few kilometres as we walked what felt like the millionth hill, Sean and I came
across Tim – who is always such a friendly fellow to meet on the road. A persistent whistle blew from a pack of determined Hollywood Bets runners, and the 4.50
bus nipped closely at our heels. Now that I really believed we could finish under 4hr50mins I was fuelled by a jangle of nerves and unexpected determination. “All you need to do is stay ahead of that one bus” I thought.

The finish

We crested the final hill, pushed along the straight and then at last we were flying down the grassy slope towards the finish. I heard my name called out and looked up to find a row of green and gold figures cheering Sean and I on towards the end and before I had time to think we had crossed the finish line and our race was over.

My experience at Hillcrest Marathon left me filled with gratitude. Gratitude for fellow club members who celebrate each fellow runner’s achievements, no matter how small. Gratitude for all of the jovial marshals and the running community who make race day fun rather than daunting. Gratitude to Sandy and the other Stella veterans who offer expert running insight to us rookie runners. And gratitude to Sean for sharing the long run with me.

The Authentic Athens Marathon 2019

By Alan Brunsdon

On Thursday 7 November 2019, our group of three runners set off to run the “Authentic Athens Marathon” in Greece. The Stella contingent of the group was Alan Brunsdon and Roger Scholtz.

The event commemorated and retraced the “original” marathon when, according to legend, a Greek soldier by the name of Pheidippides, in 490 BC, ran the 42 kms from the town of Marathon to Athens to announce the news of a great military victory over the Persians. According to legend when he arrived in Athens and announced the victory he promptly died of exhaustion – a feeling I can relate closely to!!

The event included a family run, 10km and the marathon which attracted 60 000 entrants from 110 countries, of which there were more than 100 South Africans!

We flew Emirates Airlines from Durban via Dubai to Athens. The race registration and expo was extremely well organized, as was the entire race.

On the Saturday before the race we did the tourist routine of visiting the Parthenon and Acropolis – this was the right option as we thought it best to do the walking whilst we still could! The sights and history of Athens go back centuries and are spectacular.

Race day arrived on Sunday together with cool cloudy conditions and temperatures of 21 degrees. There were five different collection points throughout the city of Athens that would take the 20 000 runners to the start of the marathon in Marathon. We arrived at our collection point, conveniently close to our Airbnb accommodation, at 06:00 to find numerous luxury buses waiting to take us to the start. We boarded very quickly and en-route a recording played through the bus PA giving us clear instructions as to what to expect on arrival at the start.

The starting area was well laid out with different coloured balloons marking the different starting batches etc. My starting batch as per my bib was purple – so all I had to find were the purple balloons! The race is run mat to mat so I set off at 09:28 while the front runners started at 09:00.

The first 5 kms were pretty easy but from there till 31 kms it was literally all uphill – a tough course! The water stations were very well stocked with drinks, dark chocolates and energy bars. The vibe on the road was great and crowd support good with the locals calling me “Bravo Bravo” even though my name was on my bib! Running in the South African flag colours certainly helps with crowd support and interaction with other runners. My SA flag running shorts earned the name ‘Faf shorts’ from many of the South Africans on the race!

The last 11 kms into Athens was a gentle downhill with lots of crowd support. The finish was into Panathenaic Stadium, the white marble stadium where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896. I finished in 5:58 even though the cut off was a generous 8 hours.

We returned home after a memorable Athens experience – definitely a marathon for the bucket list!

Running my own race- The Mandela Half Marathon

By: Sarah- Lee Naidoo (21 years old)

5324cfde-6901-4a8e-9b02-280bfb868cd7.JPGAs a new member of Stella my fitness levels have steadily improved.

Thanks to the club’s weekly training schedule, which includes various training routes, my running techniques have improved, and I am definitely feeling fitter and stronger.  I have completed three 21km races and my latest achievement was the 21Km Mandela Marathon, which was the toughest race to date.  My finishing time was 2h24min. It was a challenging race which consisted of many up hills. However, in the weeks leading up to the race, Stella’s hill training equipped me well making the race manageable and enjoyable.

Stella has taught me to run my own race and do it to the best of my ability. The camaraderie amongst club members definitely motivates one and prepares you for the next challenge.

Larson Time Trial League – Westville AC

By Therese Hurly

2c5ff06c-cbc8-4938-979c-b2c8873b5704.JPGIt was so good to have had a wonderful Stella presence at the Westville Time trial league race on Tuesday 21 August.

Cool nights might make people want to stay home, but they are perfect for running and walking.

The two walking teams, led by Michael, their styles perfected by Frankie, are all very motivated, and are still on top of the walking league ladder.

Having some good runners now as well, we feature quite prominently on the running charts – with most categories represented.

The beginning of the year started off badly for Stella running teams – with only one or two runners in the men’s and women’s teams for Queensburgh and Savages time trials. Since then, thanks to the committee for their encouragement, and Stella stars, more runners are joining us.

There is a really good spirit at the time trials, and it is always a lovely change running in a different area with lots of people running along the way; the serious runners, the jokers and the moaners who are relieved afterwards that they did it.

Everyone doing Westville time trial had heard about Heartbreak Hill  there was a lot of talking about it along the way, and the whole run was geared towards conquering the hill the last 750 m, which left us all with a great sense of accomplishment at the end.

Hoping all Stella members can join in these enjoyable races. The next race is on 20 September at Sydenham, there are some challenging hills there and it is also a very enjoyable route.

My 6th Two Oceans Ultra

By: Thozi Mazibuko

TwoOceans1.jpgOn the 31st of March I ran my 6th Two Oceans 56km Marathon.

Background: I picked up running in December 2010, and my sole motivation was to shed some kilos after the scale told me I was 98kg all by myself. I proceeded to complete a few 21km’s, then 42km’s and ultimately managed to complete Comrades 2013 and 2014 for my back to back medal. Out of all these races in my 7 odd years of running, my favourite remains the Two Oceans!

2018 Change:  Last year I decided that 2018 will be the year that I venture into a new challenge, the Triathlon… guess my Mid Life Crisis is right on time. So I have joined a Tri Team with their 7 day training programme (just awesome.. NOT).  Anyway long story short, due to this Tri Training, I have far less running mileage then I would have normally had this time of the year.

The Race:  It is mostly because of the 2018 training change that I decided not to chase any time at the race but rather to just go ahead and just enjoy the race, if ever there is such a thing in an Ultra.

I started out at a quite an easy pace until about the 5th kilometre then increased to a steady pace until Chapman’s Peak where I slowed down for obvious reasons. Usually I start battling after the 42km mark but this year I was happy that I felt strong-ish, even up Constantia Nek (maybe cycling had some part to play there). At 6km to go I came across a friend of mine who was struggling and since I knew he was aiming for his PB, sub 5:30, I decided to try and help him get it and I am happy to say that we got in at 5:28!!!

To all my Stella Stars who have not done the 56km yet, you better put this race on your To Do List quick… because they don’t call it ‘The world’s most beautiful marathon’ for nothing. Just be warned that after about the 44km mark you will most definitely need your mental strength to take you to the Finish.

My First Two Oceans Half Marathon

By: Belinda Cresswell-George

18920405_10160258472415603_511053123278252057_n.jpg I had always thought that the TWO OCEANS was for serious athletes or other people. So had never really given it any thought until an old walking friend invited me to join her to do the Two Oceans Half Marathon in 2018. After a bit of consideration I thought WHY NOT!

We began planning towards the end of 2017 and started to train. I got input from experienced athletes on training and what races to do on route. Unfortunately along the way I picked up an ITB injury about 6 weeks before the race, not ideal. I was very frustrated. But I got through it.

Arriving in Cape Town was super, there was such a buzz.

The race day had officially arrived it was a cold, dark and daunting morning. Daunting as I was still unsure if I was going to be able to complete the race ahead of me.  We arrived at  4.15am and made our way towards the front of E Batch, which is the last batch to be sent off. It was fantastic watching thousands of athletes getting ready to run their races. I saw a chap who was doing the race on crutches. Later I googled to see if I could find out who he was and how he did. Well he finished with the help of fellow runners. His name is Ipeleng Khunou. That’s the spirit of the Two Oceans.

When the cannon boomed and it was our time to get cracking I actually got quite emotional and had to tell myself to get a grip. It’s an awesome experience running with soo many people, it truly was a privilege. Don’t underestimate the race it’s a toughie. Train hills. Along the route I’d asked someone “Does this hill ever end?” to discover it was the famous Signal Hill which went on and on. I was very glad to get through the 18km cut off. I think there were a few more hills before the end, my legs were finished but just soo chuffed to have finished the race. I’d love to do it again with more training.

I want to thank Dave and the Newbies for all your input I wouldn’t have been able to do it and Cindy for flying the STELLA flag was super seeing a familiar face.

 

 

Drakensberg Northern Trail

By: Maureen Lyons

#DNT2018

Oliviershoek Pass, Northern Berg

March 24th 2018

Trail shoes – check; Water packs – check; Emergency kit – check

Two Stella ladies, Samantha de la Porte and Maureen Lyons ready to tackle the 20km Trail hosted by KZN Trail Running.

With two days of continual rain prior to the race we knew all the elements would come our way.

Fully kitted out and apprehensive we approached the starting line.   It was windy, cold and misty to begin with but no sooner had we started the sun made an appearance and we were presented with glorious running conditions.

With a 1900m elevation, numerous icy river crossings and wet/muddy conditions it called for cautious running but added to this adventure.

The scenery was insane and the rock formations humongous.

A few sightings of vultures and the calls of wild cats were some of our spoils.

We were welcomed back to the finish line by the well organised kzn trail team and awarded a well deserved medal with a difference.

Put this event on your “to do”list.

Roll on #DNT2019……..

Persevering through my first marathon: The Deloitte Challenge

By: Bongeka Cele

27b08437-3a9e-47c7-be8c-190c0b25d9d3.jpg

I loved my first marathon. I went into it with an injury (which was not a good idea, it was awful), but I really wanted to run, and I don’t regret it. Even though I was still elevating and rubbing and stretching over a week later.

I started feeling pain early on, before the 10km mark even, but I had told myself that no matter what, I was going to finish. Once that decision was made, although I was in a lot of pain for most of the race, I really enjoyed it.

The race was eventful and fun! There were the stunning views along the way, which I took in. The weather was amazing, and I loved the little bit of rain that come down along the way. There was also the confusion around which bus was the real sub 5 bus, because the 4:30 bus was lagging behind! Lots of laughs, cheering and random conversation. I think though, one of the most enjoyable parts of the race is running with people you know! The first 18-19kms or so, I ran with some awesome people from the club. Marie-Claire, Kwenza and Mbongeni really made that part of the race awesome.

At some point obviously, my knee eventually started to really affect me, and I had to slow down considerably at around kilometre 25.I don’t really remember much between the 25km and 32km marks, except cramping and a lot of pain. But then I hit the 10km-to-go mark and I told myself home-stretch. That was hard, the whole time I kept thinking, this is crazy, why am I still doing this? I should just stop running!

But I couldn’t. I couldn’t stop running because in my mind, I was GOING to finish! That was the agreement I had with my legs, my body, my heart and my mind! I’m pretty sure I looked crazy giving myself pep talks in that last stretch. But that’s what needed to happen. And I wasn’t alone either. There were so many people along the route in the last 10km who were walking, hobbling, limping and mumbling like me. But the determination to finish was intense. Medics would stop, and they would be waved off with “I’m fine thanks, I just need to stretch it out”. That was cool. I loved the fact that at the end it was a few people, in pain or not, just wanting to finish. I didn’t get my sub 5 this year, but next year, I’ll smash it!!!