Inspiration

Stella Accolades – November Edition

By: Sandy Mullins

Stella is a club of many talented athletes, and in varying degrees, not necessarily in speed, but also in endurance, grit, stickability and character. This month we applaud the following Stella member for his achievements!

Grant Matkovich

When it comes to running, for most of us, we are simply proud to finish a race or complete the goal that we have set for ourselves. But some athletes, are simply amazing with what they manage to achieve, and the beauty about it, is that you would never know because it is not broadcast. That is, until I get hold of it!!😊

Stella has one such sportsman who has achieved so much. Here are just some of his achievements:

  • In 2008, he summited Kilimanjaro.
  • In 2015, he comfortably completed the full Ironman competition in PE.
  • He has completed two Two Oceans Ultras in 2006 and 2014.
  • He has ten Comrades to his name, his best time being 8:22. However on his 10th, he raised money for charity, doing the UNOGWAJA CHALLENGE, which is a 10-day, 1,660km cycle from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg, then on day 11, you simply run Comrades! What is seriously impressive is that he did Comrades in under 11 hours and raisingover R500k for Comrades Amabeadi-beadi charities!
  • Also added to his bucket list of achievements is most of the road and trail running races, cycle races (Amashova, tour Durban) and triathlon events in and around KZN.

Not only is our doctor an achiever, but Grant Matkovich gives back for the love of the sport. He is a member of the Comrades Race Organizing Committee as the Portfolio Convenor for International Hospitality since 2015 to present, which looks after International runners’ registration at the expo and the International hospitality area on race day. He also helps Community Chest Charity with their Comrades fundraising campaigns.

We as Stella are extremely proud of what Grant has done and commend him for his achievements and his selfless giving!

Pushing Boundaries!

f9ef6a26-f910-4515-b36c-821fc0b17262.JPGBy: Jocelyn Goodwin

Walking is one of those disciplines that sounds a bit silly at first. Anybody can walk, you might think. Then how on earth could walking fast be a sport?

Well, walking is MY sport!

I joined Stella in mid 2018 due to the fact that it was no longer safe to walk alone in the afternoons as a lady. For me, Stella AC was just a club whereby I could continue my love for walking in a safe environment. It’s become so much more than that!

I had completed a few 10k races as well as three ECR 20km Big Walks, so was under the impression that completing a half marathon would be well within my limits. My first attempt was the SAPS Striders 21km which is a double lap course along our beautiful Durban promenade. I was prepared physically, but for weeks leading up to the event I became less and less confident, worried I was going to be the last person on the road and not finish in the allocated time limit. It was always going to be a dual between my head and my physical ability, it turned out my head won. I bailed at the 16km mark! Looking back I was well within the time limit and was not the last person on the road, I could have finished.

I was feeling despondent and didn’t think the half marathon distance was for me. Fortunately for me it was at this point our Chairperson Dave Beattie offered to guide me through another half marathon. We chose the upcoming Goss & Balfe Sapphire Coast 21km. After a few “big“ and “small” Gillies I felt confident I could do this.

Before I realised it was the morning of the race and it was now or never. Dave and our Stella family were there for me through all the tough moments and 3 hours later, we crossed the finish line with a feeling of euphoria. I DID IT!

Having seconded on the side of the road for many years, I never realised how valued seconds are. Often seconds are husbands or wives, friends or family, in this case it was a Stella angel by the name of Sharon Troll who popped up along the route exactly when she was needed.

The camaraderie amongst the Stella family as a whole has been fantastic, so many playing a part enabling me to accomplish my goal. Thank you everyone!

In the words of Eliud Kipchoge, “NO HUMAN IS LIMITED”

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Jocelyn came second in the walking event for the half marathon distance!

 

Stella hosts Walking Clinic with Natalie le Roux

By Sharon Troll

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Early Saturday morning a bunch of eager walkers from as far as Hilton attended the Walking Clinic given by Natalie le Roux.

She shared her truely inspirational life story, some of her future goals, nutrition, how to train for a race and a little bit about KZN Masters Athletics before taking us through the warm up routine. Boy was that difficult!!! ‘Pulling the line from your navel’, ‘rocking the baby’, ‘loosening those hips’ and ‘activating the shins’ made us all look at bit silly, but we soon saw the benefits of all these movements.

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After a few stretching exercises we walked up to Bulwer Park where Natalie explained how we should approach the up hills and downhills, and some other techniques. We did a couple of rounds in the park showing off our new moves.

The clinic was enjoyed by all and several walkers showed interest in future events. So watch this space.

Thanks to Natalie for sharing your knowledge in such a humble way. 

Thanks to Jodi Pastorino from KZNMA for joining us.

Thanks to Stella Athletic Club for hosting the clinic.

Thanks to Michael Mostert who took the initiative in asking for a donation towards the Elders Voice and thanks to everyone who gave from the heart.

I’ll end with a very appropriate saying coming from our own Frankie…

WALK WITH PURPOSE!!

Stella Accolades September Edition

By Sandy Mullins

Stella is a club of many talented athletes, and in varying degrees, not necessarily in speed, but also in endurance, grit, stickability and character. This month we applaud the following Stella members for their achievements!

Jadi Clark

“Baker girl, Baker girl

Run us a race

Go to the island and pick up the pace!”

And this is what she did! Not only did Jadi Clark have a brilliant run at Comrades, being the first Stella lady in at an amazing time of 07:37, she then, a few weeks later ran the Mauritius Marathon on the 19th July, and achieved first position in a time of 3:17!

This lovely, effervescent lady is a real credit to the club, and we salute and recognise Jadi for the discipline and effort she puts in! 

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Gcina Msibi

A novice runner he was this year, but novice times NOT as nothing stopped this speedster from achieving times most of us only dream about. Gcina Msibi joined Stella and we have not looked back! A gentleman with a smile on his face, we have watched as he pushed himself to the limits to achieve the goals he had set for himself. With over 2 500kms on his feet this year, his first Comrades was a Silver medal in a time of 7:02, and recently he did the Cape Town City Marathon in a time of 2:38. Gcina – you are an absolute star and we applaud you for who you are and what you have achieved. 

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Kim Clunas-Bonorchis

Not all Stella Stars are athletes. This lady may not physically run the miles her hubby does, but she puts in as much effort, if not more to support and second him, as well as every Stella runner on the road! Kim Bonorchis is a familiar face many a runner has seen while on training runs or races, and she is an absolute breath of fresh air as she encourages with words and actions to get us to the end. She offers advice as well as drinks, meds and other necessities that are in good supply. She’s up at the crack of dawn carting runners, and on the side of the road with a smile and her iPhone in hand snapping photos as we trundle along. On one occasion this year on a training run, she injured herself while crossing the road to a support table right at the beginning of the run. We were none the wiser as she popped up on many occasions along the way – 56ks! Only later did we find out that she was injured – but not a moan! Kim your efforts at Stella have not gone unnoticed, and you will be sorely missed as you leave for the UK. We appreciate everything you have done. You are a true STAR!

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The Flip side of Comrades

By: Sandy Mullins

9 June has come and gone, and many participants have positive experiences to share of their Comrades journey. Being at the Aches and Pains Braai afterwards was a testimony to the fact as runners hobbled around in their Comrades shirts, proudly displaying their hard-earned medals and sharing all their experiences. Each one deserving the limelight and soaking it up.

I hid behind my phone taking photos, so happy for our Stella Stars but wishing I was also experiencing the euphoria of the weekend. But in truth, all I wanted to do was flee to my bed and sob my heart out. For me, it was the utter disappointment of another DNF. Life is quite seriously unfair. 

I was so ready for this day. I could tick off all the necessary requirements of a safe finish. I’d trained with discipline and didn’t hesitate to run and clock up 1300k’s of mileage. I was injury free; head was in the right space and I was eager to show the up run I was able to respectfully conquer. I took all the necessary precautions of not getting sick (Bactroban up the nose, throat spray, hand sanitizer and a dozen vitamins). It was a green light all the way until the Monday before Comrades! I picked up a gastro virus and puked my lungs out. I went to the doctor hoping to sort it out immediately. He gave me a jab for fever and nausea and tabs to take which would, with any luck sort me out in time. 

When I lined up at the Durban City Hall, I was feeling great. I had slept surprisingly well and was as calm and relaxed as could be. We set off and at first; I thought it was unusually warm. But by the time we were heading up Cowies, I said to my running mates, that I felt like I was overheating – the steam was coming from my head. Anyway, upwards we went, and I enjoyed the atmosphere in territory where you are guaranteed of seeing someone you know on the side of the road. It buoys you, and that friendly word of encouragement just spurs you on. I was still on track and despite feeling a bit bilious, I was okay. The Stella tables along the way were great and I got my replenishing Gu’s and Rehydrats to continue. At Inchanga I picked up my Crampnot, took it and left the table thinking, right this is progress – I have passed the spot I had to pull off two years ago. I had hardly started moving when the first cramps hit me like a bolt of lightning. No, this couldn’t be happening, not now in no man’s land! Harrison Flats is a desolate stretch at the best of times, but to have a problem was not ideal. My cramps came regularly in each calf and the left leg right up the inner thigh. It was excruciating. I felt like I was a Jewish slave in the Biblical times of the Pharaohs and a slave driver was whipping my legs shouting SUFFER! No God, this wasn’t meant to happen this way, we were doing this together! The more I tried to move, the more severe the cramps came. One young man from Tzaneen tried to assist by releasing the tension in my legs and would walk with me and help again. Eventually I told him to go as he was looking for his wife so he could pull out. As I hobbled along I realised I was in trouble, with another 30k’s to go and the Crampnot was not working, I didn’t see much option. Unfortunately, I hopped on to a baler bus – my race was over. Could I have gone further? Should I have waited? Why didn’t I try harder? Why was I the one plagued with a virus which had obviously not taken its tentacles off me? I had done a long training run of the same distance and not cramped once, so I knew it wasn’t anything but this bug. 

At the time I was okay with my decision and went to wait for Sean, David, Thanesh and John at Lion Park, with our Stella table – the selfless Sue Bezuidenhout and Vanessa Botha. I had made a friend on the bus and she also hopped out there to wait for her friends to collect her. We could not have stopped at a better spot, an oasis in the desert. We were given warm jackets, drink upon drink to try and quench an unquenchable thirst. They fussed over us and the other runners coming past. It was good for me to see my running mates and encourage them on, though they were all heartbroken to see me at the side of the road. 

A week later, having rehashed THAT day over and over again, I am coming to terms with it. I have been humbled, but I am not out. Is it such a big deal? Actually, YES – when you have invested half a year of sacrifice, and not only your time and all that goes with it, but my dear husband’s as well. Sean had backed me to the hilt, and it was just as much a team effort as it was my run! 

I know I am not alone in this experience and many can relate in one way or another. It is character building (I think I have enough character now!!) and we can only hope to inspire each one to achieve the goals they have set – whether it be a Park Run or Comrades, it’s to remain focused and all being well, we learn and grow. I will pick myself up out of the dust and I will return to run and complete the race, to attain the goal I have set for myself.

Stella Accolades

By Sandy Mullins

Stella is a club of many talented athletes, and in varying degrees, not necessarily in speed, but also in endurance, grit, stickability and character. Often achievements are made and they fly under the radar. So my aim is to acknowledge our Stars by highlighting their achievements and giving credit where credit is due. If you know of someone who you feel needs to be recognised, please send me a mail and we can honour our Stars. It could be coming “first” in your personal race against time, or achieving a goal that ticks off a bucket list. Or it could be the support and encouragement given to runners that makes this individual shine.  It will take time but we will do our best to make sure you do your best!

To kick-start the Accolades, here are a couple of Stars that have made an impact this year.


Stars to the Rescue!

By Sandy Mullins

Not every run planned goes according to plan! Saturday 23rd of Feb 2019, was one such run. A training run from the club had been planned, a tough Cowies Hill and back 32k, which under normal circumstances is challenging to say the least. We arrive at the club before 5:00 and start ambling up the road gearing up for the challenge. As we look up in the dawn light, a chap on a bicycle comes past us and we see Clay Bonorchis running towards us – shouting and gesticulating to the group to stop that guy – he’s just hijacked that bike off a mature cyclist doing an early morning ride. The next minute, Julian Robert followed by Clay go hurtling off, giving chase that would have given Usain Bolt a run for his money. The rest of us stunned, are not quite sure what to do now. Do we wait; do we carry on and hope that our two brave idiots are okay and catch up? We decided to continue slowly. About 4ks down, Kevin Hendrikse phoned Gabriel, our car guard at the club to find out if Clay and Julian had returned. They had and he told Clay to join us at 45th cutting if they were up to it. 

What had transpired was that they managed to catch up to the thief and eventually retrieved the bicycle, though the badly stunned crook managed to get away. They then took the bike to the club and gave it to the cyclist with a stern admonition from Clay. After having done a world record 2k’s or so – these two gents still proceeded to run up to Cowies and caught up with us! Absolute respect for our heroes – who did not hesitate to help in a time of need! 


Sam Mkhonto 

By Sandy Mullins

There are so many Stella members who fly under the radar, yet contribute so much to Stella. One amazing man is Sam Mkhonto, who has been running with the club for many years. He is over 60 and has ten Comrades under his belt, his best time being 8:51 and still continues to run credible times. But what is special about this gentleman is the encouragement he gives to other runners. Every week you see him and a few other athletes training in the park. At club runs, he comes alongside aspiring athletes and gently gives them advice and reinforcement. I went through a bad patch one year, and while running one day, this gentle presence came alongside me and gave me tips and pushed me through, when I was feeling as flat as a pancake. I know many have been touched by his encouragement. His passion for Stella and the runners is noticeable. Sam – you are a star of note and deserve to be recognised!

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Sharon Troll

By Sandy Mullins

This quiet, unassuming lady is a walker of note. She is part of the walking squad, though is quite able to run too!

In March this year, Sharon attended the KZN Masters Champs 5000 meter track events. On the Friday evening, she came second in her age category for the 5k walk in a time of 33:57, and to top it all, the next day did the 10k walk in 1:14, receiving silver medals for both events. 

Well done Sharon – you are a champ!!b03ac321-6d4b-4d60-8a43-784daab9aecf.jpg


Michael Mostert

By Dave Beattie

Mike Mostert is the epitome of a big man with a big heart. Not only is he our Walking Road Captain, but he is also the person who champions walking at club, race and league level. Nothing is too much effort for Mike and you will always see him in the middle of his gaggle of walkers. He is the person to whisper encouragement into a new walker’s ear and push his protégés to be the best that they can be.  He is certainly quick with a chirp and similarly fast on his feet. Mike is innovative in his training methods and is not scared to try and convert seasoned runners to the walking discipline. The Stella walking team would not have achieved the league wins that they have had without his excellent leadership, drive and encouragement. Mike is a great guy and huge asset to the club. 

Michael compressed

The Running Race!

By: Sandy Mullins

There is nothing quite like the homosapien species called the “athlete”! There are sub species in this category who hit the pavements, roads, and earthy terrain to “move it, move it”, namely the walker, runner and cyclist. They will get up at a ridiculous time – before the birds have decided to open their beaks, and lace up, leave the comfort of Duvet Street and move at a considerable pace along the streets and byways for a few hours, clicking up the kilometres (which is then beeped on the watch to the computer and downloaded to  record the mileage and rake up points!).

The beauty about the athlete is that it knows no boundaries. The love of the sport unites young and old, the doctor, the baker, the candlestick maker, and total strangers greet each other in passing, because they recognise the dedication and the unvoiced respect for what they are achieving. I remember running on the beachfront one morning with one of my race T-shirts on. A guy running in the opposite direction in a similar shirt smiled at me and the telepathy was – “I know what you went through to earn that T!”  

The bonds that are built along the road is strong. You might not know each other from a bar of soap, yet you can talk the same language. You share the pain, the anguish of injury or sickness, but delight in the achievements and goals reached, however great or small. Its not generally a selfish sport. What one gleans from one, is passed on to another to encourage and build and to see personal bests achieved. Its thanks to the selfless input of those in the know that has got me to places I would never have dreamt possible.

It is not necessarily a glamorous pastime. One sees each other at the worst, still with sleep in one’s eyes, hair amok, moods subdued or grumpy.  Not everyone looks like a super model in running gear. And when the need to go to the loo arises on the road… well put it this way, we would never dream that the bush could be such heaven! Its funny when you see runners in the mall all dressed for the day, how you almost don’t recognise them!

Seconders rate extremely high on my respect list. They get up with us to cart us around, provide for our needs on the way, and give us the rebuke or encouragement we need to get us going again. And don’t forget all the photos they take of us to record our amazing feats! Many have pulled me through some of the toughest challenges in my running career. Again total strangers come to the rescue. Comrades 2016, I was coming down Fields Hill having lost my electrolyte potions along the way, and the inevitable cramps kicked in – both calves. I looked like a ballerina on points – gone wrong! Two lovely spectators came running up and asked how they could help. I leant on one while the other helped undo the spasms. I really thought my race was over. Thanks to them I hobbled down towards Pinetown. Just then another runner doing his 9th came along side me and gave me a packet of the same electrolytes I had been taking. He told me to take two every half hour and then carried on his way to his green number. I tried to remember his name on his vest but to this day, I will never know who he is, but he saved my race and I was able to complete the challenge. Comradeship at its best. It is humbling.

So to all these crazy characters who make this world an interesting, better place – I salute you! Keep moving forward and run the race that is set before us – this is a paradigm of life!

End of Year Message from the Chairman

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Greetings to all Stella Members,

So ends another extremely busy and successful year for Stella Athletic Club. In terms of judging the success of the year I have looked at the following criteria:

  • The achievement of goals by the club and athletes
  • The numbers of athletes who have signed up as members
  • The number of athletes who are active at races
  • The number of athletes who participate in the monthly Club Time Trial and the Time Trial league
  • The number of members who participate in club and fundraising events
  • The success of the annual Stella Royal 10 / 25 km race
  • Being innovative in the athletics space (i.e. trail runs)

In times where road running appears to be going through a bit of a slump in terms of the number of events being put on and a shortage of sponsors, Stella AC appears to be going from strength to strength.  Our numbers are growing and most importantly the majority of these new members are actively involved in our weekly activities. We must be doing something right as we are also approached at most races to ask how people can join our awesome club. This will only happen if the Stella members are good ambassadors on the road and in the community. The spirit of our athletes during and after races is unparalleled. This was particularly evident at the recent Illovo Sugar Christmas Run. I was so proud to be a Stella member.

It has been particularly heart-warming to see the commitment of the members to the Club when we need help with maintenance and other projects. We all have our own special skills and can help in our own way. If that way is your ‘time’, that is appreciated. If you have other skills that can be utilized please speak to a Committee member and we will be grateful for your contribution. There are plans to renovate the Den in early 2019 and we will need all those skills and ideas to ensure that we get the best result possible.

With the Committee and members all pulling in the same direction I foresee a productive and hugely successful 2019. Most people will be looking forward to a rest over the festive season. Rest up and come back refreshed and looking forward to a busy January running schedule. To those dedicated Comrades runners who are working on their base over the festive season I urge you to try get some quality rest. The hard months are still ahead and you need to be injury free to tackle them.

To all Stella members I would like to wish you and your families a blessed Christmas and trust that 2019 will bring you all health, happiness and success.

Regards,

Dave Beattie

Stella Athletic Club Chairman

Stella Female Walkers Team wins the 2018 Time Trial League

By: Sharon Troll and Kim Flack

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Last year walking with Michael’s group he started “briefing” us on something called time trial league, but we soon forgot about it until we found ourselves at the walkers meeting late last year and offered to walk if they were needing numbers. It was a bit of a decision to make whether we should register as a runner or walker, but we are so glad we joined in with the walkers – it’s been a wonderful year with amazing people! Big thanks to you Michael – your enthusiasm is infectious! Well done to us all. 

We’ve already received next year’s fixtures and we would like everyone to come join in on the 2019 fun, whether you are a runner or a walker, fast or slow. Looking forward to seeing you there. 

 

Small steps and small goals

By: Gerald Van Wyk 

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If anyone had told me that I would ever run a 21km, I would have told them they were crazy. I have now been running at Stella for nearly 3 years, and loving every minute of it. (Well most of the time). When I started I could not run more than 2km without stopping. I trained hard and ran my first Hillcrest 21km that year. I did the South Coast 42km last year, which I was extremely under prepared for, but determined to do the run and finished!! I entered the Comrades this year but due to an injury never quailfied for it. I have been injured for a large part of this year.

Eventually I’m back on the road and recently did the South Coast 21km and did a PB. Last week I ran the DHS Oldies 10km and did a PB again.

So my advice to all new runners is not to try and do too much too soon, as this can only cause injuries.

I would like to thank Sandy, Amanda and Louise for all their encouragement they have given me along the way.

I’ll leave you with this thought….. small steps, small goals, Big Rewards

See you on the road.