JOHANNESBURG – Something beautiful is brewing in road running circles and if properly harnessed could help see the emergence of many a black female distance runner in the country.
Granted that Caster Semenya is the benchmark for track running here at home and young black girls in townships and villages countrywide have been inspired to take up running as they aspire to be like the 800m phenomenon. But in half marathons, marathons and ultra marathons, there has not been many a female role model to inspire new talent.
Yes, Blanche Moila - famous for her white doek - made many a young girl want to chase the wind back in the eighties. Yet since her, great female road runners have been few and far between and as such role models have been scarce.
Take the Comrades Marathon for example and you will see that there has been just one black African female making the top 10 in the last 10 years. Fikile Mbuthuma holds down a permanent job and is literally a part time runner. She is, however, almost always considered a top ten contender at the world famous KZN ultra and achieved a gold medal two years ago.
Can you imagine how well she would do if she were enjoying the kind of support afforded her white counterparts? If she did not have to hold down an office job to ensure she is able to make ends meet, and had proper sponsorships, no doubt Mbuthuma would be the standard that young black girls measure themselves on.