Pretoria – As if it had been foretold, the late Lester Mills, former sports editor of the Pretoria News, was on Thursday remembered within the confines of a structure, erected by the very founder of the newspaper for which he had worked.
On Thursday, a remembrance service was held at the main campus of the University of Pretoria in the Victorian-style Villa Kya Rosa, which was originally built by Pretoria News founder Leo Weinthal more than a century ago.
The service doubled as the official launch of the “Lester Mills Memorial Night Race” that is taking place on September 11 at the university’s sports campus.
It’s a sight the former editor and running enthusiast would have been proud to see.
“Mr Mills” as he was affectionately known by staffers in the sports department, would also have been pleased to know that his memory was honoured through his beloved running.
Michelle Mills, the daughter of the late runner, said for her the race was a bitter-sweet occasion.
“The race is bitter because obviously I miss my dad very much, and sweet because all of this is being done in his honour, “she said.
“I look forward to taking part in the race and I know he would have wanted me to complete my race.
“It’s a great honour for myself and the family,” the fourth-year Tuks architecture student said.
The memorial race will be run the second time this year after it made its successful debut last year.
More participants are expected to turn out for the race this year that had been brought back by popular demand after an absence of nearly 12 years.
Concerns about safety were the root cause of why the night race was stopped in 2001.
The dangers of road running have been well documented with runners being subjected to a wide range of hazards while out on the road, especially at night.
But to appease those anxieties the race organisers have turned it into a compounded and structured race that will take part within the confines of the university.
Last year several of Lester’s former colleagues competed in the race in honour of the man whose passion for running knew no bounds.
As an active runner Lester competed in races across the city, regardless of the turf or terrain – be it in Atteridgeville, Mamelodi or Centurion his commitment to the sport was exemplary.
The launch of the race also served to honour top running performers at the university. Tuks vice-chancellor Cheryl de la Rey, the university’s sports director Kobus van der Walt and executive director Antoine de Klerk were in attendance to acknowledge the accomplishments of the Tuks Running Club.