Running Simon an inspiration to his co-workers

2017-06-28 06:02
Simon Matebese with his supportive co-workers behind him.                  Photo:ZELDRÉ STRAUSS SWANEPOEL

Simon Matebese with his supportive co-workers behind him. Photo:ZELDRÉ STRAUSS SWANEPOEL

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HE runs to and from work every day, trains during his lunch hour, but still it is not enough for Simon Matebese. The 19km to and from his home in Soweto-on-Sea to his work in Central is a cup of tea for this avid athlete, who recently completed his second Comrades Marathon and is already preparing to take on the gruelling Washie marathon – a 161km run from Port Alfred to East London – next year.

Matebese (54), who is a cleaner at a furniture factory, completed this year’s Comrades Marathon in only 9 hours, 19 minutes and 57 seconds. His first Comrades was in 2008.

His enthusiasm overshadows the fact that Matebese has had many hardships on his 12-year journey in this sport. In 2009 Matebese ran the Washie without any support, food or drink.

“The first I heard of Simon running the race was when he called me from Port Alfred to say he had no taxi fare to return to PE. That’s when I found out he had travelled alone and ran the race without anyone being there to assist him along the route,” said Melvin Humpel, his manager at the furniture factory where he is employed.

“Being there by himself meant that there was no one to give him refreshments while he was running the race.

“He also had to ask a stranger to keep his bag with his personal belongings because he could not run with it.

“A good Samaritan gave him an energy drink and a banana along the way and that’s what he finished the race on. That is amazing.”

In that same year Matebese also completed a 100km race and finished in fourth place – also without any assistance.

This year, for the Comrades he had the support of his employer who donated his running shoes and paid for his travelling expenses.

“Where the average athlete runs only a few times before throwing their running shoes away, Simon will run up to 8 000km with a pair until those running shoes are completely worn out. He also cannot afford the luxuries of a healthy eating plan and supplements.

“Yet nothing stands in his way and he remains humble. The trophies and medals don’t really mean anything to him. He runs for the love of it.”

The company will assist Matebese with the next Washie and also the Two Oceans marathon in Cape Town.

Matebese, who is not a man of many words, is very grateful for the support of his co-workers.

“I used to run alone, but my employers encouraged me to join a running club and now I am enjoying the support I receive being in this club.”

Matebese who describes himself as a sports fanatic, also used to do judo, karate and boxing.

“I love sport and the opportunities it has given me. I want to encourage the youth to focus on sporting activities.

“If you do sport, it will not only make you healthy and fit, but it will keep you from drugs and crime. Sport will teach you discipline and help you stay on the right track.”

Simon added that besides his co-workers, his wife of 27 years and two children are his biggest supporters.

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