New Year’s day is in sight and there are only eight weeks to the 2018 Discovery Surfers Challenge, an iconic run, paddle or walk from Kwelera River mouth to Nahoon Beach.
The Surfers fits in perfectly with New Year’s resolutions, though many will ask “can I do it?”
If we look back at some of the folk who started running Surfers back in 1975 and continue to do so, as well as the many thousand ordinary folk who have risen to the challenge and “got the t-shirt” down the years, then the answer is probably “yes we can”.
The one important thing to consider is a medical check to assure yourself that all is well health wise. That done, training and adequate preparation are essential to get through the 17.5km of the Surfers, or even the 11 plus km of the diluted version from Gonubie to the finish.
Dougie Kunhardt, Alastair Phillips, Mickey Webb and Glen Cunningham have all raked in 40 or more Surfers and all came out of the surfing rather than the running community. They did all, however, become capable runners.
Because there are two river crossings the race has held some obstacles to runners who may not have been at home in such conditions and yet, when the Lesotho born runner, Thabang Baholo, moved to East London, from that land locked country, he chose to overcome his reluctance to take on the beaches and rivers.
In 1988 Baholo became the first black man to win Surfers, which had been dominated by Duzi Canoe and Comrades Marathon specialist Danny Biggs. Biggs, who hailed from Durban, won the race on three occasions, 1985, 86 and 87, and then along came Baholo.
As with when Roger Bannister broke the four minute barrier for the mile, and many runners quickly followed suit, so it was with Baholo’s win. A black male has won the race every single year since, through the efforts of the likes of Mzwandile Shube, Sipho Majambozi, Michael Scout, Mpumezi Bomvana, Makaya Masumpa and many more.
Barriers are there to be broken and whoever sees Surfers as a barrier to their own achievements, 2018 is the year to tackle it head on.
In respect of women’s running, Surfers was no different to the marathon or the Comrades. It was a male dominated activity and indeed records were not even kept of who the first female runners to finish were, or when that transpired.
We do know that multi-Olympian Colleen de Reuck (Lindeque) came first in the Biggs years, but no official record of that exists.
In 2008 that all changed when current Surfers ambassador, Hanlie Botha, came first. She followed that up with wins in 2011 and 2013, while Pretoria based Myrette Brink (Filmalter) has also won on three occasions in 2012, 14 and 16.
What all this means is that completing anything, and the Surfers in particular, is simply a decision, a decision to get it done.
Have a superb New Year celebration and then let’s see you on the roads and beaches in preparation for Surfers 2018.