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SANI STAGGER TRAIL 21KM

By Stuart Riddle

About 10 years ago, after supporting some of her work colleagues, my wife Sheldene decided that she would one day enter the Sani Stagger half marathon.

At the time, neither of us were doing any running. In the latter half of the 1980’s I had competed in standard distance triathlons and had run the Elangeni half marathon.

Having not run for many years I started running again in 2017, when Sheldene had started to run. This resulted in us each losing about 20kgs, and the two of us joining Stella in November last year.

2020 was to be The Year

At the beginning of this year it was decided this was to be the year, So at 08.45 on 4th of March 2020, I sat in front of my laptop, nervously awaiting the 9 o’clock opening of entries for the Sani Stagger. I had been threatened with my life, that entries for the Sani Stagger 21km, usually filled within 15 minutes of opening. To make matters worse, being on my ROAG profile I had to do my trail entry first. (I was never going to attempt to run downhill for 21k’s). 09.10: I was entered for the 21 km trail and my wife and son, Keaton, for the Sani Stagger half marathon.

Later that month I very comfortably completed the Deloittes half marathon. Feeling I was on schedule for Sani in November.

Having survived lock down, shin splints and Glencairn trail run (nursing achillies injury), I felt ready for Sani.

Unfortunately, due to Covid restrictions and border closures the Sani Stagger Half Marathon was changed to the Sani Stumble (Sani Pass hotel 10km up to the SA border and back). Sheldene and Keaton opted to hold their entries over to next year. Sheldene was a supporter once again.

21 November 2020 Race Survival day

My hydration pack was feeling very heavy with the compulsory items. Reminiscent of army route march.

  1. space blanket
  2. 1,5l water (I only had 1l)
  3. Charged cell phone
  4. Whistle (I forgot)
  5. Emergency rations – 2x Energy bars must be produced at finish unless used in emergency ???
  6. Silicone cup – I used this at every stream crossed.

Friends had warned me that this is a VERY tough run. I wish they had been more specific. The start was very well organised. 20 idiots at a time entering the start shoot, lining up in 4 rows of 5, leaving on the sound of the cow bell as the start tunnel cleared. Timing was from mat to mat.

(My Garmin time matched my results within a few seconds) but that was much later.

Route started gently along the road with a small muddy stream after 300m, which everyone crossed slowly avoiding getting our shoes wet, which was very useful because around the next bend was the first of 2 knee deep river crossings.

Weather was perfect, cool but dry with very low oxygen levels. After 1 km we started to climb, this was a relatively steep climb which lasted for only 7 kms. The first hour seemed to fly by, unfortunately the kms didn’t.  After 1 hour I had only done 5 kms.

At 6km you reach the highest point of the course 2000m, this was after 1h9mins. The view was breath-taking, as was the whole race. Pun intended. We then descended for the next 4kms, the terrain varying from moderate to very technical, but at least downhill taking us from 2000m to 1600m, until joining the infamous San pass road for a short steep 1.5 kilometres uphill.

On to the single track again for a gentle 5 km climb, gaining 250m elevation. Finally, the 2km descent to the beautiful Gxalingenwa river, which we followed and crossed several times for the next 3kms.

Many people taking the opportunity for a swim in the clear and cold water. I however opted not to swim as my legs felt that the next false step would result in serious cramp. The last km across the lush thick grass of the golf and the very welcome finish.

Here I discovered two things, if I sit down my legs cramp very painfully and that craft beer makes a great recovery drink.

Conclusion

A great weekend with great company, thanks to Sheldene and Maureen for supporting, and Sam, Sharon and Mike for joining the experience.

I will be back next year, and hopefully improve on my time.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Dear Stella members,

2017 is winding down and what an incredible year it has been for Stella Athletic Club.  The club comradery and unity has been incredible.

Looking back at the year we can be proud to have achieved so much as a club.  Our social functions were a huge success – from our Awards evening, quiz night to our Tropical themed end of year party.  We will not easily forget our very well supported Westville Christmas run this year where we all dressed up in our leprechaun outfits singing at the top of our voices between gulps of “liquid refreshments”.

Our regular Stella Stars newsletters have been a huge hit with many popular articles written by our members.

Let us not forget our running and walking – once again Stella has done us proud.  We were well supported at all of the races and even our gazebo has made a more consistent appearance! The weekly runs organised by the club have been very popular and often attract in excess of 30 runners! The names of all the members that have achieved their goals is too numerous to scribe.  Well done to all of us.

Our successful year could not have been made possible without your support, so to each and every member, we would like to say a heartfelt thank you for your commitment and dedication to Stella Athletic Club.  Thank you, thank you and thank you…

You will be happy to know that your committee is already hard at work planning 2018. Early in the new year you will receive an email, with an easy online link for membership renewal. We look forward to building on our successes of 2017 and see Stella Stars shine in 2018.

Once again, thank you for an incredible year and we wish you all the best for the festive break.  We are looking forward to seeing everyone back on the road in their green and gold in 2018.

Stella Athletic Club Committee

Stella Royal

by Alan Gibb
Stella Athletics Club held its annual Stella Royal 25km run/ 10km run/walk on Sunday the 19th March 2017. For some years now we have been doing pre-entries electronically and it is pleasing to see the number of pre-entries increasing each year.

However, there were still a large number of manual late entries and the teams were kept busy at Durban Runner on Friday night and at the club on Saturday. The helpers, many of whom had either run the helpers run in the morning or had assisted with the run spent almost the whole day at the club ensuring that everything was prepared for Sunday.

Race day dawned with nice overcast conditions with some drizzle. Perfect for a good race. Things were not going so well on the logistics side of the organisation, but in typical Stella fashion, people got stuck in and got the deliveries going. In fact, no one noticed that there were problems.

The club used schools to man a number of the tables, and by all accounts a lot of fun was had by the pupils at the tables. The best atmosphere was at the table manned by Jabu and his colleagues near uMbilo park.

I walked around and spoke to the winners of the races, and to a number of runners from other clubs, and not once did I get a complaint. Everybody was most complimentary about the organisers, the marshalls and the tables.

It was nice to see Prodigal, who spends so much time at the club, win the men’s 25km race, and Sandy de Beer, who is a previous winner of the women’s 25km race win the ladies 10km race on the day.

I therefore say thank you very much for all of the hard work that was put into the race by all the club members to ensure that our race was a success. It is not by accident that the race is a success but it is due to the hard work put in by the race committee leading up to the race, as well as by the individual members who sacrifice their time to ensure the success of the race.

Thank you.

From the Chairman

by Alan Gibb (Chairman)

Greetings Stella members,

Welcome to the Stella blog. I am particularly excited to see the start of this blog as it is a fantastic opportunity for the committee, and the club to share their experience as well as keep members informed of developments within the club.

As with most of the clubs I interact with, we are facing some challenges. People do not really want to belong to clubs and so choose to either run in races on temporary licenses or belong to “virtual clubs”. These clubs, whilst they serve a purpose, do not, I believe, further the sport of running. If one looks at the wonderful work done by various members of the club to get walkers running or beginners to complete their first race, then I believe a good strong club, with active members, is the way forward for the sport. In my view, Stella certainly offers what every level of runner could possibly need. We have many training groups both formal and informal that cater to every level of runner.

It is also particularly pleasing to see the number of young people joining the club. The future of the club is young people, and we need to encourage young people to join us and be part of the club.

The committee works very hard behind the scenes to make your membership good value for money and doing the best that we can for our runners. We have secured a site at the Comrades finish where our runners can congregate at the end of the race. We will keep you advised of the exact location of the site in due course. We also sent a group of runners to Buffalo City marathon and talking to the runners they all had a good time. The times were also impressive!

The committee has recently re-designed our kit, and the vests are now available at Durban Runner Glenwood. We believe that the modern design stays true to the roots of Stella but is much more vibrant and eye-catching. Please keep your eye out for the vests and give us your feedback. We are in the process of ordering shorts and will let you know when they are available.

Please remember that committee members are always at the club so feel free to approach anyone of them with ideas, input or even complaints that you might have, and we will do our best to address them for you.

I hope that you all achieve your running goals for this year, and I will see you on the road.