Going the extra mile to help others

Durban - A man who had a tumour removed from his brain in December and another who lost a foot in a motorcycle accident are among four people hoping to raise R1.5 million for charity by running the MTN Comrades Charity Challenge in the marathon this June.

Donovan Wright (34), the first South African home last year, will run for the Cancer Association of SA. Wright was diagnosed with a brain tumour in October last year and received radiation treatment in December, but was pounding the sidewalks again in January in preparation for this year's race.

"I have been through some trauma, but that has just made me stronger. I have a strategy that's going to work and I'm aiming to win. I already have Comrades gold medals so I don't need another I want to win," said Wright, who is from Brackenfell in the Cape. He said he has to train twice as hard as other competitors because he is training at sea level.

Amputee to compete as well

Estienne Arndt (48) has yet to qualify for the race but said: "Don't worry, I'll be there." Arndt, who will run for the KwaZulu-Natal Conservation Trust, lost his right foot in an accident in 1988, but has recovered to run the marathon with a prothesis that reaches up to his knee. He also completed the gruelling 20km Marathon des Sables across the Sahara Desert, in temperatures up to 40'C in 1998.

Meshack Motla (40) will run for the Sports Trust, while Khanyisile Mlambo (36) will raise money for the Durban and Pietermaritzburg community chests. Motla, an unemployed ex-miner from Krugersdorp, won a silver medal last year in a time of 6:26 running in borrowed takkies. He said he wants to break the six-hour barrier this year and hopes to start a business with the money MTN will give him for completing the race and supporting the charity.

Mlambo, the marketing director of Corobrik, said she began running to cope with stress and completed her first Comrades last year in 11:31. She said she sacrificed much "sleep time" to fit training into her busy life. "It means I have to wake up early daily and train hard on weekends," she said.

MTN has pledged R140 000 to the four charities and will give R10 000 to each runner if they complete the race. Further funds will be raised through the sale of beaded necklaces on the Comrades route and at outlets in the weeks leading to the race.

The necklaces will sell for R10 each and will be coloured so that people can choose which charity and runner to support. A multi-coloured necklace will also be available to support all four charities. - Natal Witness

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