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A day at the races

Date Released: Mon, 6 August 2012 16:54 +0200

A cloudy morning greets the 278 walkers and runners in the Oak Cottage KwikSpar Mountain Drive Half-Marathon on Saturday morning.
An enthusiastic buzz fills the warm air as 33 walkers set off from the Albany Sports Club at 7am, followed by the runners at 8am. Decked with Spar banners, the club remains a hive of action and spectators are kept entertained with colourful commentary and music, as the delicious smell of boerewors wafts from the kitchen.

Jill White, owner of Oak Cottage KwikSpar and sponsor of the race, chats enthusiastically as she sets up drinks tables with Coke and water. “These types of races are so important for the community” she says, “It promotes healthy living and brings people together. There is such a great vibe!”

Looking around, I have to agree with her. People stand chatting in mixed groups, while children run around screaming with excitement and enjoying the fresh air. Nearby, Timothy Cleary from St Andrew’s College munches happily on a boerewors roll. White smiles as I take it all in.

“We sponsor the Rhodes rugby team and various other sporting events because healthy living and being active should be a priority,” she says.

The first runners come on to the rugby field. Rounding the last corner they dig deep as they push themselves over the finish line. Finishing within seconds of each other, the top three spots go to
Nedbank runners Anele Maliza in 1:11:42, Masande Mlonyeni, 1:11:49 and former Two Oceans Ultra winner George Ntshiliza finishing in 1:11:51. Runners begin to pour in, all exclaiming how tough the mountain was but glowing at their achievement.

Mpumelelo Ndlumbini, who finished in the top 10 and who is currently training for the South African half-marathon champs, says, “This race is good preparation. It is a tough race but it helps to push yourself.”
The first woman runner over the finish line is Nedbank runner, Deliwe Nyanga, in 1:33:22. “It was a tough race, but very good!” she says.
Second woman home and crowd favourite, Rhodes University Athletics Club member Natalie Ross, received a loud cheer as she finishes in 1:33.57.

“I made excellent time in the first 45 minutes, she says, but coming over the mountain slowed me down.”

Terri-Lynn Penny (Run/Walk For Life Athletics Club) comes in at 1:37:26, rounding out the top three in the women’s division. The hour progresses, brining all the runners and walkers back to the club, with the rain holding out long enough to keep the race a success.

•    This article appeared on Grocott’s mail Online