UK man to run Comrades for Aids centre

2015-05-21 06:00
Photo: Randamp;R Photography
Matt Luff in the Thames Meander Marathon.

Photo: Randamp;R Photography Matt Luff in the Thames Meander Marathon.

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“MARATHON man”, Matt Luff, will complete more than 1 600kms of training for the world’s largest ultra-marathon - the Comrades - which takes place on 31 May.

The 33-year-old father of three from Oxford in the UK will compete in the 90km race to raise money for the Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust (Hact).

Located along the marathon route, Hact’s mission is to provide love and hope to HIV/Aids-impacted communities in the Valley of 1000 Hills and address prevention, care, community empowerment and income generation.

The Valley of 1000 Hills area has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world with many orphaned children and challenges of poverty, unemployment and drug and alcohol addiction. In some communities in that area it is estimated that between 40% and 60% of the population live with HIV.

Luff is a member of the UK Comrades team and a dedicated marathon competitor. With two consecutive Comrades races under his belt, he has run 32 marathons to date, 13 of which have been ultra-marathons.

“I love the spirit of Comrades - there’s nothing else like it. Thatand#039;s why Iand#039;ve kept coming back,” said Luff. “This year the race will be tougher as it’s an uphill run. Thankfully, my wife and children support my efforts, which is vital as I have to run six days a week for training. They are very proud of my achievements,” he said.

The first time Luff heard about the Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust was when he went to a talk at his church by Bekky Stredwick, a volunteer from the UK who recently joined the Hact team and will spend the next three years serving in the marketing and fundraising department.

“When I heard Bekky speak, I realised I’ve gained so much from the region where the race takes place, but was unaware of the scale of challenges that exist on the doorstep, including HIV/Aids. So I was really keen to be able to give back in some way.

“The money [raised] will go towards Hact’s projects such as the respite unit, life-skills education, community gardens and support groups for grannies and children.”

Olivia Myeza, Hact CEO, said the organisation was delighted to have a Comrades runner dedicating his race to the fight against HIV/Aids.

“International support and competitions like the Comrades can help further our mission to reduce stigma and raise awareness about HIV/Aids,” she said.

“We are living in a province where just over one in three people are HIV-positive, so we have a long way to go in terms of preventing new infections and keeping people living with HIV alive and well for as long as possible. We are grateful that Matt has chosen to use this opportunity to raise funds and awareness for Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust.”

Luff has been running since he was at school when he was a keen cross-country runner, and he isn’t the only one in his family who loves to run. His father is running the Comrades for the second time this year, and his brother ran it last year.

“I learnt about the legendary Comrades Marathon after reading about it in a book when I was 20kgs heavier and thought I’d never be able to achieve it,” said Luff.

“After training a few years ago, I decided to give it a go and prove myself wrong. Now others in my family are hooked - even my children have running shoes.”

If you wish to support Hact via Luff’s participation in the Comrades, you can donate via

You can follow Luff’s progress via his Facebook page Comrades4Hillcrest

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