Walk-in entrants complete their entries for the 2020 Comrades Marathon. Photo: @ComradesRace on twitter

JOHANNESBURG – Junior Moatshe is going to line up for his fifth Comrades Marathon come June 14 next year. But he shouldn’t be.

When the registration for the 95th running of the world famous KZN ultra opened up at the beginning of the week, Moatshe was not in a financial position to pay the R640 that would have earned him a spot on the starting line. The entries were selling out fast and panic abounded among many a runner.

By having the registration open on the 28th, the Comrades Marathon Association believed they were making it accessible to just about everyone - their idea being that even those who get paid on the last day of the month will be able to get in.

But the entries were being snapped up so quickly it personified that popular saying “selling like hotcakes” as the likes of Moatshe watched in disappointment, unable to pay.

Enter Stuart Mann and Junior, plus about 50 other runners, had smiles on their faces late on Wednesday night - their entries secured. Mann is a passionate road runner who traverses the length and breadth of the country and shares his experiences on his popular blog - The Running Mann.

On the day registration opened he posted this message on his social media platforms. “Due to the immense generosity of numerous sponsors I have some more funds for Comrades entries. If you have NOT ALREADY entered because you don’t have the money (or know someone in this position) DM or email [email protected] First come, first served - while stocks last!”

I met Stuart earlier this year when we went to the training camp of John Hamlett’s Entsika Athletic Club before Comrades and us two were the only media members who took up the challenge of running with Hamlett’s elite.

And so I dropped him a message asking that he help Junior out. Fortunately, I was early and the young man from Limpopo was helped out.

Stuart’s passion for running is very different to that of many given that he goes to even the most obscure places in the country. And because he does not really run to chalk up PBs, he gets to experience the areas he runs in and its people. And no doubt this is one of the contributing factors to him having such a golden heart. I have, however, got to realise that South Africa’s road running community is generally a generous lot with most runners often displaying a desire to help other runners out.

Today’s Soweto Marathon is one of those races that exposes one to the amazing ubuntu spirit of our country’s people. But there are many others like it. One of those is the Tembisa Mile which incorporates a 10km race. We ran it last weekend and the event lived up to its slogan - ‘It’s A Running Party’. 

The township’s people came out to encourage the runners to the finish. Run by the amiable Donald Mathipa who is renowned as a race announcer for many a marathon, the Tembisa Mile is a great example of just how much possibility there exists in our townships which are often portrayed as hell holes in the media.

With very little support from Corporate SA, Spar sponsors them and Mathipa hosts a thoroughly professional race that is growing with each passing year. Runners rave about it.

Sport is a great way to uplift and change a country and its people for the better. Now, surely, more corporates can come to the party like those who made it possible for Stuart to help Junior and others to register for Comrades and ensure the Tembisa Mile continues to grow. In the meantime, Iet’s give that Mann - and Donald - a Bells!

Matshelane Mamabolo

@Tshiliboy


Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter