Half marathon

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.

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.



The Deloitte Challenge: My first half marathon

By: Jasmin Borstlap

Jasmin Borstlap

On the 18th of March 2018 I completed my first half marathon at the Deloitte Challenge.

Two months ago I joined Stella Athletic Club. At first I just wanted to run and get some cardio in, little did I realise how addictive running is. After a month of running with Stella and having members push you to do your best and give you the  best advice to improve your running, I decided to enter the Deloitte Half Marathon – 21 km. I must say my expectation to finish in 2 hours 30 minutes wasn’t very high. As I spoke to more members, friends from other running clubs and even family members the more they encouraged me and told me I could do it.

The morning of the Deloitte my heart was racing, I had never been so nervous. Walking to the start and seeing so many people I become anxious, am I going to finish on time, will I be okay, can I do this? I began to doubt myself. We started all cramped up and many people pushed past you to get to the front. I just reminded myself to start slow and ease into it, as many Stella runners have told me to do.

After about 20 minutes of running, I started to enjoy it, with people spread out and having room to run, to the ocean views to your left, it was breathtakingly beautiful. Having so many supporters on the side of the road telling us “we can do it”  or “GO Stella” was that extra bit of motivation to get us through the next 5 km or however long we needed to get that extra boost to keep going.

Stopping for a short walk, a lady ran past me and said come on we nearly home. I decided to push through – running the best I have ever run. With about 5 km to go, this energetic lady tells me “we have 30 minutes, our bodies can do anything in 30 minutes”, as she over takes me, I repeated in my head “we are capable of anything”.

Getting to Suncoast and knowing the amphitheatre was a mere 2 km away, I was excited to be at the finish line soon, running so fast past my family that they didn’t even see me, until I phoned them to see where they were. They were more shocked to know that I finished in 2 hours 13 minutes, a whole 17 minutes before my expected time.

Seeing all the Stella runners, I have never been more proud to be a part of such an amazing and supportive group of people. Wearing our Stella uniform with pride.

#WhattheHILL Hillcrest 21 km

By: Kim Flack

Kim Flack Hillcrest 21Km

A few months ago if anyone had asked me to run 5 km I would tell them I could run and walk it only.  Once I got to running a full 5km I thought, well I could actually run 10km.  After running with the Stella Newbies for a few months I was able to run 13km.  Dave announced at one of our weekly runs he would lead a bus on the Hillcrest 21km and aim to finish between 2h:40min – 2h:45min.

I thought this could be quite fun and how much further than 13km was it really? Come the night before the race I was worried I wouldn’t wake up, checked the alarm a few times and when I heard the rain come down at 12:30am I was starting to panic a bit.
The run started off wet from the rains the night before and it did rain a bit in the beginning which was great to be cool, but I had wet socks and shoes from the get go – my pet hate!

But our bus was in good spirits and with Dave leading us I started to enjoy the run – even the few up hills in the first half.  Sean and Al pranking along the way and Dave always checking we were all ok, the rest of the team jovial – there were no worries.

At about 16km in my body felt like the end should have been near but with 5km left to go I told myself that there was only a park run left to go, only a park run left to go…
Then it dawned on me those lovely hills we so enjoyed running down until about halfway we were now having to climb to get to the end. With my ITB giving me warning signals I did end up walking unashamedly up some of those hills. But thanks to Dave and the rest of the Stella bus encouraging me all the way to the end I was elated to have finished my first 21km.

I intend to be stronger for the Deloitte Challenge and with all the advice from Stella members I know I will succeed!

2017 Twizza Bonkolo Marathon / Half Marathon – Queenstown

By Dave Beattie


4am, Thursday 2 November. We decided to make an early start to tackle the 650 km journey to Queenstown. My co-pilot John Nicol was in the front passenger seat and my Mom and her Schnauzer, Bella, in the back. In front of us was Kokstad, Matatiele, Mount Fletcher, Maclear, Ugie, Elliot, Cala, Lady Frere and finally Queenstown, the home of the Twizza Bonkolo Marathon. The foothills of the Southern Drakensburg and then aloe country must be some of the most beautiful scenery in our country. A pleasant drive was however punctuated by those dreaded stop / go’s where the road is being resurfaced. With my luck I knew that I would arrive at every one of them at exactly the wrong time and spend ages baking in the oppressive heat. I was not disappointed.

Nine hours later we arrived in Queenstown. Boy was it hot. The ‘Stella on Tour’ boys immediately started the necessary ‘rehydration’ process. We did not want to be ill-prepared on race day. It was evident that the Eastern Cape was also in the middle of a drought. The Bonkolo Dam which serves as the start and finish of both the marathon and half-marathon was only 30% full.

A lot of people may wonder why I would want to go all that way to do a road race. They need not stress as runners do not need a reason to do strange things. On a more serious note I have a family link to Queenstown. My Mom was born there and I have two cousins who live in the town. The race also serves as an annual family reunion as another cousin and family come up from Port Elizabeth for the run. Over the years the number of family and friends participating in the race or seconding has grown substantially. This year we had 24 people involved in the race and there are plans to expand this next year. It’s amazing how too many ‘refreshments’ can lead to commitments by non-runners to run the following year.

The Friday was hot, very hot. The town becomes a hive of activity with runners coming from far and wide to participate in the event. Us Durban runners take races and race organisation for granted. We know that every weekend there will be a race within a 45 minute drive of us.  In the Eastern Cape / Border region people travel 3-4 hours to participate in races. That often means either paying for accommodation or leaving at 1am in the morning to arrive before the start time. I saw people from running clubs in Aliwal North, Craddock, Port Elizabeth, East London and all over the Free State. As is tradition people meet at the Sailing Club at the Bonkolo Dam on the Friday evening to collect their numbers, enjoy a beverage and generally socialise. It is truly a joy to see that road running is alive and well in all corners of our great country.

Race day Saturday dawned warm with the possibility of the mercury rising to 32 degrees. Again us lucky KZN runners forget how fortunate we are to have race fields of 1 500 plus. In the country districts regions a field of 700 is exceptional. They are a happy bunch though with the chatting and laughing so loud that I actually missed the signalling of the start. Never mind, I knew that my pre-run carbo-loading had gone well and that I would storm through the field. Well, it never quite panned out like that. A shoe malfunction and still unknown medical issue impacted on John’s race so we parted at the 8km mark. I ended up running the rest of the race with a newbie from Port Elizabeth who was doing her first 21km race. The roadside festivities and hydration tables were exceptional. Local companies sponsor and manage these tables and they give it their all. I eventually dragged my weary body over the finish line after 2.33 minutes, with John following 13 minutes later. Not to let the family down we ate far too many pancakes and built our usual pile of empty beer cans. This year we chose to miss the prize giving. The MC / race announcer could learn a valuable lesson from Durban’s Mike Bennett. We could just not sit through his repertoire of embarrassing jokes and quips. The alternative was an hour in the hot tub with a cool ‘refreshment’, a short nap before the traditional family fines meeting and then far too much food and drink. Unfortunately all good things have to come to an end.

A tortuous nine hour drive back coping with searing heat and then mist and rain will not take the shine off a fantastic long weekend doing exactly what we love. Plans are already afoot for the 2018 ‘Bong’, with additions to the touring party being sounded out about their availability. I can only imagine the impact that a bigger Stella contingent will have on those poor country bumpkins. As a parting shot though – we must be grateful that we run for such an awesome club, in such an active running province. Do not take things for granted though and try and give something back to running. Too many runners only think about what running can do for them.

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!

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

By: Bronwyn Blades

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

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

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

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

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