WATCH | Zanele tackles depression with gruelling 160km race
A Johannesburg-based woman will be running the gruelling 160km Washie 100 Miler race this year from Cathcart to East London in a bid to raise funds for the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag).
Zanele Hlatshwayo, 33, will be putting her body through the endurance race to raise awareness for suicide and depression. Her father took his life 10 years ago and while Zanele took up running in a bid to escape her problems, it has become therapeutic for her.
“As a nation we should always try to help others whenever we can and this is me doing my bit. I am hoping other people do not go through the pain and helplessness of depression like my father did,” she said.
Hlatshwayo said she did not want to get into the details of how her father committed suicide because she did not want to sensationalise suicide.
“I also want to protect his dignity. I do not want the way he died to define the man and the father he was. He was a loving father to my siblings and me as well as to other people outside our family,” she said.
Hlatshwayo is the founder of a campaign called #Rise18 for which she has run 17 races so far since January to raise funds for Sadag.
“The Washie will be my 18th race. I have done several strenuous races like the Comrades and Two Oceans, but I have also done shorter 10km races as well,” she said.
The goal is to run 18 races between January - July 2018 in raising funds and awareness about depression and suicide. My 18th race will be a 160 kilometer race taking place on the 27th of July in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Visit www.backabuddy.co.za/rise18 for more information
“Every day Sadag gets 400 calls from people who are on the verge of committing suicide. In South Africa, 23 people commit suicide every day.
“It is ignorant to say suicide is taking the easy way out. Mental illness and depression are real and they affect many South Africans,” she said.
Cassey Chambers of Sadag said they were grateful for Hlatshwayo’s “amazing campaign”.
“We need all the help we can get. We are an NGO and we don’t receive any money from the department of health so we do all our own fundraising.
“Our phone bill can be R70 000 to R80 000 per month. So we are always grateful to individuals who want to help us raise money for the Suicide Helpline.
“Zanele’s campaign is not only about raising funds for the Suicide Helpline – it is also doing a lot to raise awareness and encourage people to talk about depression and suicide, which is very powerful,” said Chambers.
Hlatshwayo has set a target of R180 000 by the end of July.
To date she has raised over R108 000.
The race starts on July 27.
Washie committee member Clyde Mountfort said the route had been changed from the usual one between Port Alfred and East London because of the roadworks on the R72.
"Sanral and traffic authorities have not allowed us to use the route,” Mountfort said.
“The roadworks have rendered the route dangerous because of the stop-gos, single lanes and trucks.”
The first Washie 100 was run in 1977 with just 12 entrants.