The CSIR Running Club supports Sizwe Shabalala and Jabulani Mkhonza. This article will help you know them better.
Sizwe has worked for a family in Faerie Glen for the past 15 years. Three years ago in his early forties he decided to go for a run at the end of the day. His employers encouraged him and started taking him to the Botannical Gardens Park Run where despite him being in his mid-forties, he won the race more often than not.
Having participated in 50 of these park runs, his employer entered him in the 2017 CSIR half-marathon – he finished in 15th place in 1h25! There were 1388 starters. He was exhausted having not yet learned how to pace himself. Not bad for a first event further than 5km!
Early in 2018, his employer registered him as member of the CSIR club – paying his subscription. Being a fairly reserved man, he ran 8km to get to the time trial, then ran the 8km time trial itself and then ran home a further 8km. I noticed him shyly standing to one side at a time trial and chatted for a while. Discovering that he lived in the same suburb as I do, I offered him a lift home and started giving him lifts to and from the Saturday morning races where he continued to perform excellently.
It was at one of his first longer distance races – the 32km at Bronkhorstspruit – that he encountered an injury, something that I suspect ALL new runners have go through. He was still running hell-for-leather all the way and ended up straining some big muscle. This kept him out of action for a few months. Once back in action, he continued to improve, running his first marathon (Bela Bela) in 3h15 and later that year completing the Loskop 50 km in 3h45!
Of course, the 2018 prize-giving saw him walking away with a host of trophies .
In June 2019, Sizwe phoned me to ask if a friend could come with us to the time trial – I said we could talk about it, but there was the friend already waiting with Sizwe for the next lift. And so I met Jabulani.
It turns out that Jabulani is also employed by a family and enjoyed going for a run after work. On one of these runs he met Sizwe and they started to run together. Not only are they both Zulu, but both their families live in Ermelo!
Jabu – at 29 years old – initially used to finish five-or-so minutes behind Sizwe, and has never taken longer than 1h40 to complete a half-marathon. The friendly rivalry continues with Jabu recently getting the better of Sizwe. Jabu’s first marathon 4 months after he started running was done in just under 3h30. In Saturday’s tough Tukkies marathon (his second), he again stayed inside the 3h30 mark.
Note that neither of these men had any previous running experience – they are obviously talented runners! As a club, we can be very proud of them.
The ideal situation is that club members be available where practical to provide transport. Sizwe and Jabu can be picked up on race day at the Engen garage next to the Pick&Pay Hypermarket.
Comrades – this would be the ultimate experience for Sizwe and Jabulani – their performances suggest that they just might be contenders for a Silver medal.
Support in the way of running shoes which are closing in on the end of their soles would make ideal training shoes, allowing them to use their good shoes in races (Sizwe size 9 and Jabu size 10). They have each kindly been donated a pair – one by Gerrit and another pair by Willie. Last year Linda donated her used Garmin to Jabu, while Sizwe still runs using an old wristwatch of mine, where the only function that still worked was the stopwatch. I remember JP giving a CSIR running vest to Sizwe. Whatever you might have in old belt bags, camel backs, water bottles, etc could also be of use to them. February 2020.