Runner Raydon Ballie. Picture: Supplied
Runner Raydon Ballie. Picture: Supplied

Under Armour campaign will nurture SA’s running talent

By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi Time of article published Mar 16, 2021

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From humble beginnings to the global stage, the soft-spoken blitz runner Raydon Ballie just has been announced as a 2021 Under Armour Elite Run Crew.

He grew up in Eersterivier Cape Town and says: “I always remind myself where I came from, not just the place where I lived or grew up, but the progress I’ve made thus far, knowing that I am blessed and enough through what I do. I always look to change and adapt my goals, while feeding the motivation to go for it.”

Ballie is a 26-year-old Nedbank Club Runner, specialising in Half Marathon times. He prides himself on his outstanding times, completing the Cape Peninsula Half Marathon in fourth place with a time of 1:05:47 as well as a 42km time of 2:34: 39.

Many brands learnt last year to embrace a bigger picture and a greater purpose, and so the relevance of this Under Armour 2021 program shifted focus. It’s not only to utilise the new crew in campaigns for the brand, but with the vital purpose of “each one teaches one”.

Under Armour Elite Run Crew has signed the new Elite Run Crew members, and not only are they a powerful set of run champions, but they also have crafted a learn and return strategy, designed to impact the impoverished run community. And this is where Ballie has a new home.

The Under Armour Legends and Learners program, that came about during Covid-19 level 3 of the lockdown, will be now supported by the newly appointed Elite members.

This platform allows the signed athletes to engage with members of communities, who need support in their sporting field. It provides the athlete with an opportunity to share their knowledge and experiences and, importantly, inspire a new generation of running enthusiasts through a series of micro engagement events.

Another runner who has been announced as part of the Elite Run Crew is Ashley Smith.

He is from Mitchells Plain and says he’s through and through “a man from The Plein”.

Smith is a 25-year-old sprinter, whose dreams will only stop when his body does. Signed to the UWC Athletics Club, Smith is a 3km steeplechase specialist, who bagged a bronze medal at his first international event during the World Student Games in Napoli, Italy, in 2019.

He says his motivation is clear: “I’m honoured to be part of the UA Elite Team for 2021, wiser and faster together, some quotes I like to use to keep myself motivated. You only get remembered if you WIN.”

Ashley Smith. Picture: Supplied

Lorrianne Cloete, head of marketing at Apollo Brands (Pty Ltd), Under Armour South Africa says: “The running arena is one that needs support, and fast.

“Through launching Elite in 2019, we realised the need to support runners who break their bodies down on a day-to-day basis, they don’t run for glory, many of them run to survive.

“Having signed our run athletes for 2021, we look to activate them in a space that allows learners from their communities to attend and learn from planned runs and practice sessions, throughout the year.

“It’s a small step that may move a very small needle within the communities we have access to.”

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