It’s never too late to get up off the couch

2016-11-23 06:01

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WHO remembers those heady days in South African Athletics when, during the late 1970s and 1980s, we spent Monday nights glued to the TV, watching atletiek (athletics) on SABC?

TV was new to most of us and some of the limited live broadcast time covered the athletics events around the country.

Running legends Johan Fourie, Matthews “Loop-en-Val” Motshwarateu (so named for his forward leaning style), Matthews Temane, Johnny Halberstat and others wrapped most evenings’ excitement as they chased each other around the tracks in the mile.

Any breaking of the four-minute barrier was greeted with great excitement by commentators and households alike.

So, what happened to track and field athletics? They took a back seat during sporting isolation. The focus changed. Comrades Marathon and, later, Two Oceans became the focus of running achievement in South Africa.

Elana Meyer, 10 000-metre silver medallist at the 1992 Olympics, commented that the regular questions were:

“Do you run Comrades?”


“Do you run Two Oceans?”


“Oh, so you’re not a proper runner, then?”

The South African mindset changed. A marathon (42,2 km) is considered only a stepping stone to the ultimate goal. Many people run marathons almost every weekend in their build-up to the Comrades Ultra Marathon, to put it in the correct perspective.

By comparison, most of the rest of the world focus on the marathon as their ultimate goal. Many train for a year or longer with a view to participating in one or other of the major marathons such as New York, Athens, Boston, London, Berlin, etc.

Many of the international running publications carry columns from contributors featuring “My first five miles” or “My first 10km”.

The focus is changing, again. South Africans are realising, again, that running is, in itself, a goal. Starting with five kilometre Saturday ParkRuns, the movement is swelling. Many South African marathons now offer shorter options as well. The Witness Maritzburg City Marathon, powered by Clover and Khayelihle, was one of the leaders in this concept, starting 21 years ago with a 21,1km half marathon to complement the marathon. Now you have the option of a 10km too. The generous, by South African distance running standards, time limits make this the ideal entry level event to challenge yourself at any of these three distances.

Each day, The Witness carries the next step in novice training to complete the 21,1km or 42,2km. Coach Norrie Williamson will add the novice 10km training programme beginning mid December.

It’s never too late to get off the couch and join the movement to healthy living and fitness. Set your goal to be a part of the 21st Maritzburg City Marathon experience at the end of February 2017.

Run or walk alongside folk from around the country and across the world. You don’t have to go far or fast — you just have to go.

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