Seven runs, seven continents

2013-03-02 00:00

THERE were a multitude of different reasons that runners took part in Sunday’s Weekend Witness Marathon events, but for 72-year-old Harry Botha of the Dolphin Striders club in Ballito, crossing the line put him on the fifth rung of a ladder that takes him to completing seven marathons on the seven continents.

It’s only seven years ago as a 65 year-old Johannesburg businessman that Harry retired with his wife to KZN’s north coast where he opened his racing account in the 2006 Tongaat 16 km.

From there the endurance bug just evolved; first it was an amibition to run the marathon majors, which includes London, New York, Boston, Chicago, and Berlin, which were all ticked off the list between 2008 and 2010.

A tour around the waterways and bridges of Venice provided him with his fastest time of four hours, 53 minutes and although not his first venture into Europe, this combined with Chicago could be considered the first two continents spawning the seven-continent concept.

Next, the Great Wall of China seemed like a good idea, secured a third continent and saw him become only the sixth 70-year-old to compete in the race.

Last year’s trip to the Ice Marathon added the fourth and most unpredictable marathon, where he became only the second South African and the oldest ever finisher of the snow-packed Antarctic race, which is run only a few hundred kilo­metres from the south pole.

A home-based marathon was never in question, with Sunday’s Weekend Witness the “marathon of choice” in the “City of Choice”.

“I really enjoy the atmosphere and history of this event: The cannon start, the tour of the city and it’s the marathon most people talk about and want to use as their Comrades and Two oceans qualifier,” said the ever-green Botha after the race. “It wasn’t a great day, but I was able to finish in under six hours and that’s what counts.”

Next up for Botha is the Santiago Marathon for the South American continent. “I was recommended to that by people I met in Antarctica. They say its well organised, relatively flat and has great scenery.”

That trip will commence in little under five weeks with the Grande Finale coming on November 3, when he will commence the Great Barrier Reef Marathon.

The world famous Australian landmark was the home of the Eclipse Marathon last year and mixes beach, road and rainforest running in what should see Botha earning the title as the oldest man to complete seven marathons on seven continents.

It will be a feat that was completed between October 2010 and November 2013 — quite an accomplishment for a man who only began running races seven years ago at the age of 65.

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