Insure your car, home and valuables with iWYZE
Jan Vreken died doing what he loved best – but his friends and family could never have imagined the cruel way his life was taken.
The 73-year-old road runner was knocked down by a car in a hit-and-run accident last weekend while running the practice route he had been using for nearly 30 years.
The accident occurred between the Total Garage and the N1 off-ramp in Queenswood, Pretoria, in the early hours of last Saturday.
His wife Rheda became worried when Vreken had not returned home by 11am. They eventually traced him to the Steve Biko hospital, but he had already died. A petrol attendant told the family how he had seen “a maroon or red VW Golf” speeding off after knocking Vreken down.
Vreken was popular in the athletics world, having won 25 Comrades Marathon medals.
The Pretoria runner won his Comrades medals between 1980 and 2007, and even had a double green number, 5435, an honour given only to runners who have completed 20 or more Comrades races.
His long-time running partner Michelle Jordaan said she was devastated by his death.
“He died doing what he loved but his death was very cruel,” said Jordaan. “He didn’t deserve that. The way he died was totally the opposite of the type of person he was.”
Jordaan said she had shared many memorable moments with him.
“I’ve been running with him for seven awesome years. We ran every morning at five o’clock. He was such a considerate partner and always concentrated on my needs rather than his own.
“He adjusted his stride to complement mine.”
Jordaan added that Vreken had been her “rock and foundation”.
“At five in the morning when I was still groggy from sleep, he was smiling, joking and positive. I trusted him with my life,” said Jordaan.
“He was considerate and everyone’s friend.”
Running with Vreken had been a blessing, she said. “He was the only person I know who could talk from the beginning to the end of Comrades without telling the same story twice.”
Jordaan said, her running partner could have gone on to win many more medals if his life had not been cut short.
“He was perfectly content with his current accomplishments and saw each as a blessing. But he would have kept running for as long as he could… he had at least another ten medals in him.”
The CSIR running club has also expressed their sadness and on their website sent “its condolences on this awful loss to Jan’s family, friends and members of the Agape running club”.
Vreken was laid to rest yesterday.