By: Sharon Troll and Kim Flack
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.
By: Mary O’Gorman
I took part in the 10km walk at the 100 year centenary celebration Mandela Marathon this year. It was the biggest event I have competed in so far as there were 24 000 entrants in the distances – 42kms, 21kms and 10kms combined.
From the very start, the message spread that it was a special race. There were posters in the streets and radio announcements in the build up to race day which made the race seem very significant. At the race pack collections, there were huge posters with pictures and quotes from Mandela and clips of his speeches were being played.
Because of the vast number of entrants, there were challenges caused by having to queue for everything but the atmosphere of the race made up for that. Waiting in that huge crowd at the start was quite fun as Jaluka music was being played and everyone started ‘dancing’ on the spot to the music. When we all sang the National anthem, it was emotional and some even shed a tear.
The stream of luminous race T-shirts during the race were visible for miles as far as the eye could see on the winding country roads. The scenery is spectacular with challenging up-hills most of the route and we 10kms participants enjoyed the well-stocked water tables (before they ran out of supplies later).
What made the event memorable was the large number of supporters along the route. They cheered, clapped and sang as we passed. By the time we reached the Mandela monument at the end, we felt elated.
Walkers should certainly grab this rare opportunity that this event provides to experience this level of crowd support and the feeling of comraderie amongst the entrants!
By: David Thurlby (14 years old, Junior Stella Member)
We approached the mountain ahead of us that was soon to be our challenge. We were representing CHOC and Stella. We had felt the cold the night before but the morning of the race we woke up to the amazing view of the challenge that stood before us. The start was whenever we were ready, then we got going. The snow got thicker and thicker the higher up we climbed. Many people participated but this felt very much like a family trip. The walk altogether was a journey to be remembered and to be retold. We got close to the big rock that was said to be opposite the highest pub in Africa. Which felt like the longest time. We had an amazing experience, from snowball fights to meeting new people. It wasn’t a race, it was an experience for everyone that went. It was amazing in many ways and will definitely be on my list of future events.
By: Michael Mostert
(Photos courtesy of Martin Roestof)
After some encouragement and motivation from fellow walkers, I decided this year to give myself a new but daunting challenge, to compete in Masters Track Race Walking. My fellow walkers had sold track as fun and social and a way to improve your speed and technique. My rubbery arm was bent.
After only two official track training sessions, the KZNA Seniors and Masters Championships were upon us, the 5km being held on the Friday evening. The butterflies soon turned into vultures descending on a carcass and I began asking myself what I had got myself into as I had just completed the notorious hilly Savages time trial through Burman Bush on Thursday! I was politely told by the Master’s secretary “There is no cure for stupidity” with a wry smile on her face. Before I could locate the exit to plan my escape we were under starters orders for the 5km race walking track event. The 5km event is 12 and a half times around the track under the watchful eyes of race judges, spotters/time keepers and spectators. The spotlights were on as the sun was setting as we pounded our way around the track, to the motivation of the stadium announcers encouraging the crowd to cheer for us.
Once the 5km was over, reality set in once again as we were told that we would be doing the 10km road race at 05h30 on Saturday morning which comprised of 1 km lap on the road that runs alongside Peoples Park. I dragged myself out of bed to heavy legs at 3h45am on Saturday morning. At the start line I met with a number of enthusiastic walkers who had the sanity not to do the 5km the previous evening. Why didn’t I get that memo?
The sun started to appear from behind Suncoast and we knew we were in for a hot 10km. The gun went off and we were off like the opening of doors on an Edgars red hanger sale as all walkers jostled for position around the 1km track which had to be conquered 10 times for the sane and 20 times for the ultra-insane under again the watchful eyes of the appointed race judges and officials. These officials were placed around the track and all of us were hoping to avoid the dreaded yellow paddle warning against bent knees or lifting feet. Three warnings by different judges means you are disqualified, so concentration is paramount.
Feeling the effect of the Thursday time trial and Friday evening’s 5km, I received a warning for bent knee on the 7 km lap on my tired jelly legs . This gave me a wake-up call that this was no joke, I corrected my technique with heaving lungs for the next 3 km to waddle over without any further warnings to complete my 1st 10km KZN Master’s Track race.
Track race walking is definitely not for the faint hearted as fellow athletes told me it’s another beast …true words! I was still crazy enough to do the Martitzburg half marathon on the Sunday morning. I am sure there is a padded cell with my name on it somewhere! Next time I will be better prepared to fly the Stella flag with pride.
Walking with purpose,
By: Michael Mostert
One of my bucket list races was to one day do the Ficksburg Cherry run 23km over a mountain. This day finally dawned a lot sooner than expected. Waking up to minus 1 degrees seriously gave me second thoughts!
I lined up with other athletes at the start to an opening prayer by the local dominee, which was a nice change, or was it a prayer for our sanity? The gun sounded and we were off. With a false sense of delusion we hit 2.5km of tarred road and thought this was not too bad as we had the front walkers in our sights. That was until we veered off onto a rocky dirt road to head up a mountain road with the thin air reminding me this was not a coastal walk in the park. A fellow walker who had done this race 11 times said to me, “Hierdie is niks jong man wag n bietjie” – ‘This is nothing young man, wait a minute’. With some boulder hopping we wound our way up from 1450 meters to 1728 meters to the most amazing views and rock formations. The lead walker disappeared into the distance as I gasped for air. Unfortunately this was not a recognised walk with no judges or prizes so lots of walkers were seen running to make the tight 3hr 30 minutes cut off.
By the time we got to the summit the temperatures reached 24 degrees. We passed a weather station at the top and made our way down a steep concrete road. With walking style in check, we meandered our way down, avoiding wandering cows and their fresh droppings. We passed hordes of kids with hands held out for high fives to loads of cheering which was a much needed pick me up. By this time with 4 km to go, the sun pelted down as we made our way back into the now tree lined town of Ficksburg to end our mountaineering experience at the primary school. I don’t know what was more welcoming the medal or being offered an ice cream with cherries to cool us down.
Lovely tough race and yes I will do it again, what an experience, even had time to take some pics and some not to be posted selfies …
Walking with purpose,
By: Michael Mostert
All the keen, mean, and lean Stella Walking Stars poured out of Wendy’s taxi at the Sydenham Durban Runner Mizuno Time Trial League on Thursday 19 October. Casting our eyes heavenward at the ominous clouds building up, we all wondered if we were going to be caught in a downpour as we prepared for the Sydenham 5 km, not 4km, time trial league.
200 runners and walkers lined up for the 5km and 8km slog. The start gun caught us all by surprise as some were still adjusting their hair, their kit, and others still chatting away…we were off. The route goes through the friendly, but hilly, Sydenham suburbs up the notorious Jan Smuts Highway until 45th cutting when you turn back.
Nana pulled ahead like the fast and the furious disappearing into the distance, and finished in 5th position overall in an amazing time of 36 minutes and 36 seconds. Wendy completed it in 8th place in 39 minutes 02 seconds, followed by Michael in 9th place in 39 minutes and 13 seconds. With our ever smiling and chatty Frankie in 13th while coaching the SANDF Walker on the correct style to use….that’s our Frankie. Our ever reliable Musician Roland came in a cool 22nd place in his 1st walk in a few months.
Was nice to be greeted by the smiling support team of Mary in her kit at the finish line as we stumbled over, thanks for the support Mary. The Red Bull ladies also handed out some well-deserved drinks to the exhausted athletes at the end.
Out of 13 teams, Stella Walking Stars finished the league in 3rd place, 7 points behind 2nd place team and 17 points ahead of the 4th placed team.
- QBH Harriers
Well done to you all for your time and sacrifice this year, you are all stars in my eyes.
Wishing Wendy Coleman a blessed belated birthday for Friday, October the 20th. Congratulations must also go to Wendy for coming 3rd in the ladies walking category in the Merewent 10km on Sunday 22 October.
Walking with purpose,
By: Michael Mostert
On 21st September the “ Stella Walking Stars” who I have aptly named, lined up with another 240 athletes for the PDAC leg of the Mizuno/Durban Runner Time Trial League at Lahee Park. For the first time in three years there was no torrential downpour, so at least we were in for a dry walk.
For the first time in time trial history, the Stella walkers outnumbered the Stella runners, with five of us lining up at the start line to pound the streets of Pinetown.
Our walkers were awesome with our motivational encourager Zethembiso (Nana) Nxumalo finishing in 5th position in 29 minutes, followed by the ever reliable Wendy Coleman in 8th place, a mere 8 seconds behind Nana. Mike came in 10th place in 30 min and 4 seconds, chased down by our speedy Frankie (11th position) in 31 min and 38 seconds, and our comeback kid Terrence 1st time trial in 2017 in 33.48 in 12th position. Stella walking stars finished only 1 min 11 seconds behind the first placed team DHSOB.
Stella walking stars have now cemented themselves into 3rd place on the log, a mere 8 points behind Queenburgh Harriers A team and 13 points ahead of PDAC. Queenburgh Harriers will be looking over their shoulders rather nervously at the Stella walkers slowly reeling them in. I am sure they will bring out their big guns at the next league. I say, bring it on!
Nana was lucky enough to walk away with a lucky draw prize which was well deserved after an amazing walk.
I am so proud of the Stella Walking Stars team. Bring on the next time trial league, we are ready!
Yours in walking with purpose,
The Proud Mike Mostert