Ken is married to Thiru. They have two children, Keeran Age 16 and Jenni Age 15. Ken also has two sons, Gavin and David from his first marriage. Gavin lives in the UK with his wife and Ken’s only grandchild, Summer, who has just turned 4. David and his girlfriend live in Centurion.
Running Category? – In the 50 to 59 Group or what they used to call “Masters”. At 57-years-old, I often surprise myself that I’m still running – when I started, I never dreamed I would still be doing it at this age!
Qu: Professional/working field?
Financial Adviser first and foremost, but also a Registered Tax Practitioner, specialising mainly in Personal Income Tax. However, I am currently investigating doing a Bookkeeping qualification as well to ensure the long-term sustainability of my business and to meet a need of many of my clients who have asked me for this service!
Qu: When did you start running?
I ‘jogged’ when I felt the mood from my late 20’s, but was never consistent or serious. I remember running a night race at Westgate Shopping Centre in 1993 as a bit of a dare from someone at work. Without much training, I seem to re-call finishing around 63 minutes for 10km. The catalyst for taking running up more seriously was the break-up of my first marriage in 1995. For a few months, I lived life as a bachelor – typical dinner was a takeaway Cheeseburger and chips washed down by a few beers! Needless to say, I started putting on weight. I went for my annual medical in May of that year and I was somewhat overweight, Cholesterol was high for my age and, in those days, I still smoked. My Doctor wanted to put me on a diet, but I didn’t have the discipline to eat salads all the time and I told him so. So, he suggested an exercise programme, which I ignored! Approximately, two months later I won a free 3-month membership to Run / Walk for Life in a radio competition. I remembered what my Doctor had told me about exercise and thought that this was a sign, so I went along to Bedfordview Run / Walk for Life and joined. That was on the 25th July 1995! After that 3-month membership expired, I was hooked and the rest, as they say, is history!
I originally joined Fit2000 in Bedfordview in 1996 but met Thiru in 1999 and moved to Pretoria in 2000. As Thiru worked at the CSIR at the time, I already knew one or two people from the Running Club, so it made sense to join them, especially as we lived a stone’s throw away from the CSIR anyway. My first full year of membership was 2001.
Qu: Have you run Comrades? How many times?
Yes. Started 10 Comrades and finished 6! I first attempted it in 1998. I was a little arrogant thinking that “it’s just another race” and didn’t put in the necessary training for the distance. In those days, there was an 11-hour cut-off and I crossed the line, but in 11:26 – no medal for that. Tried again in 2000, when the cut-off was increased to 12-hours and went into the race with far more respect for the distance and finished comfortably in 11:16 – what still remains my best time for the race. Ran it on and off again until 2012. After failing to finish that year, I decided my Comrades days were over. I’m very grateful as a “slow” runner to have achieved 6 medals, something I never thought that I would get and I’m proud of every one of them.
Qu: What has been your favourite race?
There are too many to count! When I was younger, I really enjoyed the “big” events such as Comrades, Two Oceans, Loskop Ultra, Om-die-Dam and I even ran the London Marathon in 1998. Last year, I had the privilege of running the New York City Marathon, which was an incredible experience. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started preferring the smaller races – mainly those outside of Gauteng. The one race that I ran last year which I thoroughly enjoyed, even though it was hot and tough was the God’s Window Half-Marathon in Graskop.
Qu: What do you regard as the peak of your performances in races?
I ran my very best between January and Comrades in 2000. I achieved what are still my all-time PB’s in all distances from 32km upwards during that period. I didn’t realise at the time that it would be the best that I would ever run, otherwise I may have enjoyed it more. During that period I ran the Loskop Ultra in April 2000 in 5:15 – certainly the my personal best performance of any race anywhere. I went through 42km in that race in 4:18 – my best ever marathon time! It was such a wonderful day and I felt that I could have run forever at that pace. My 2nd best 50km time was 5:25, so it was a huge PB at the time.
Qu: What are your PBs for Comrades, 42km, 21km, 10km?
Comrades 11:16 in 2000. My best “Marathon” time was 4:18 during the Loskop Ultra in 2000 as described above. In an actual 42km, I did 4:19 at the Flexicon Marathon in Witbank also in April 2000 – a small once-off marathon. For shorter distances, I was running better when I was younger – with a PB of 1:56 at the Jaguar Half-Marathon in September 1998 on a suspect short-course (no GPS in those days) and I could never break 50 minutes on a 10km, with an all-time PB of 50:57 at the Florida 10km night race, also around September 1998.
Qu: Do you have any particular aims for your running in the future?
I’ve achieved so much and more than I would ever have believed in my early days of running, so there are far fewer goals now. I’ve run 7 Two Oceans Half-Marathon’s and would like to get to 10 of that race and I have been a dedicated entrant into the 1000km Challenge competition since 1997. They do a special trophy called the “Round the World” trophy, which is awarded when you’ve run a total of 40075km in the competition – the distance of the circumference of the Equator! I’m about 2300km short of that total, so when races start again, I’ll be chipping away at that. Only 14 people have achieved it so far, so it is rather exclusive.
After New York, I’m not sure if I have another Marathon in me, but if International Travel opens up again at some point and marathons re-start before I get too old, I think I’d like to do at least one more International Marathon – Berlin, Rotterdam, Paris, Prague – it doesn’t really matter, whichever one I can get an entry into!
If someone had told me when I joined Run / Walk for Life in 1995 what a journey I was starting and what I would do over the years, I would never have believed them! My initial goal was to run 5km without walking! I did that in October 1995 at a fun run, for the first time. The sport helped me give up smoking in 1998, for which I am very grateful and I’ve made so many friends through the sport and I cannot count the wonderful people that it has brought into my life. People who remain friends, even those who have stopped running for various reasons, remain friends. Now, I hope to be able to continue for as long as my legs will carry me, despite getting slower as one gets older. Long may we continue.
My training was in electronics, after which I spent the first 13 years of my career at the CSIR. Once I realised that the young design engineers were too fast for me, so that I always ended up writing the instruction manuals, I turned full time to technical documentation and have written manuals for all sorts of equipment. My lifelong hobby has been astronomy, which led me to writing a layman level book on the subject in 2012. Once the book had completed its run in the bookshops, I took over the last few hundred copies, of which I still have a few. In case you are interested see http://www.starwaders.com/AWR/index.html – special discounts for all running club friends!)
I live happily with my wife Sonja. I have a son Noel in his mid-thirties who has made me wonder where he inherited his good running genes, certainly not from his mother and so I am astonished that I must be the source. He has certainly improved on what I was ever able to do.
I had a short spell of running in 1974. The only events I can remember were the Harrismith Mountain Race and the Greytown to Mueden half marathon – shown here in black and white. Time? No idea.
Noel was my inspiration to start running. I had cycled since 1992 after a spinal fusion put an end to my squash playing days. The cycling was a regular activity, including several Argus races. On the 17th of January 2013 I coasted at 35km/hr downhill straight into the side of car that turned straight across my path. My helmet managed to dent the roof of the car, nevermind my bike and body deforming the car door. I was kept in hospital until 10pm for bone and organ X-rays until the doctor felt that it was safe for me to be discharged. The next three days were uncomfortable with every muscle and tendon having been stretched to their limits.
The bike was a ‘goner’. Three months later Noel told me he had started running earlier in the year. I went to watch him set off for 21km from The Grove and was astonished to see him arrive back in 17th place in 86 minutes. (It was the Two Oceans weekend so many runners were not participating that day.) I enjoyed the event atmosphere so much that the following Saturday I started the 5km at the SAMCOR event. I didn’t know if I could manage to run at all. At the 2.5km turn around, I increased my walking pace to a gentle shuffle. I was hooked – my first goal was to break 35 minutes over 5km.
The rest of 2013 was spent building up stamina and speed over 5km and so when the step up to 10km loomed I decided to join the CSIR Running Club in Feb 2014. The day before my 60th birthday I completed my first 10km in 1 hour and 2 seconds on the Denel route.
The next challenge was 21km at the Irene Liquifruit in November that same year. Noel coached me through the race, holding me back in the first half and encouraging me to the finish in 2h17m.
Shortly after I started running, I met Sonja and was so lucky to experience love at first sight at age 60. We soon set up house together. There was no way I was going to make a Comrades-widow out of Sonja by training for hours and hours, so I limited myself to 21km max. I have run 163 Saturday morning races since then, 26 of them being 21km. My best performance over 10km should have been at SAMCOR when I clocked in just under an hour, only to find that the distance was 300m short of 10km. Grrr! That is the closest I have come to a pace of 5min per km.
My strategy was to compete in events where all the good runners had disappeared off to Comrades, Two Oceans or Om-Die-Dam, so that on a few lucky occasions I could recoup my entry fee by winning my age category.
The half-marathon was more of a challenge. I was aiming to break 2 hours but the closest I got was 2h06 before creeping age put a stop to any improvement.
My favourite race? I have enjoyed so many events that choosing the Chamberlains Classic 21km is not fair on other events such as 21km up and down and around the Voortrekker Monument and 21km in open countryside around Warmbaths. But wearing a kilt and posing with Noel’s wife finally made the Chamberlains event the prime choice.
My other favourite race – the Comrades! Not as a competitor but as a spectator and supporter to Noel and Melinda.
Besides running taking me to places I might never have bothered to go to, or the training and racing that has kept me fit and strong, the friendships that I have made at the CSIR Running Club with like-minded people have very specially expanded my life experience.
I am no athlete. A slightly idiosyncratic set of legs and way too much time sitting in front of computers conspire to keep this potato mostly just off the edge of the couch. The “55” age tag on my running vest doesn’t help either.
Towards the end of 2011, I suddenly found myself with some spare time for the first time in decades. I decided to tackle a project that had been on the back burner for years: The Midmar Mile. I tried to convince Laurens Cloete and Karel Matthee to join me. They responded that they would join me if I joined them for Comrades. I didn’t think it was a fair trade, but I agreed. I entered Comrades and started training. I had two months to learn to swim and seven months to learn to run.
Karel didn’t come to the party, but Laurens did. Learning to swim properly was a great challenge. The story is on the Web (http://b.org.za/stories/midmar2013.pdf or http://b.org.za/stories/midmar2013-Af.pdf).
Running was much harder. I qualified for Comrades 2012 by the skin of my teeth. I bailed out around 60 km, elated that I was able to get that far with no ill effects. 2013 was worse; I made it to about 53 km before the heat and wind became too much. 2014 was going to be my big year. Unfortunately, early in the year it all came to a grinding halt. I severed my left knee in a running accident, leaving me unable to even walk. The leg was sewed back on, and a rehabilitation process spanning more than five years started. I set my sights on Comrades–a handy measurable goal.
Within a year, I managed to walk 10 km, then 21. I gradually progressed to what could loosely be described as “running”, 10 km, then a half marathon, then 32 km. Because of my fragile knee, I set my sights on the next “up” Comrades, in 2017. The race went very well up to the halfway mark. Descending into Harrison Flats, I felt a twinge of cramping in my hamstring. 10 km further, I was lying on the roadside in excruciating pain. Sane people would have given up. I tried again in 2019. This time, I avoided cramping, but found myself at the top of Polly Shortts with 8 km to go and 56 minutes to the cutoff. I managed to pull a rabbit from the hat and finished with about three minutes to spare. My rehabilitation was finally complete.
These days, I’m mainly driven by a need to avoid turning into a bag of lard and the lure of a back-to-back medal. The bad flu this year actually helped me. I can hopefully kill two birds with one stone next year, collecting the centenary medal and my back-to-back in one go. I hope things are back to some degree of normality by then. In the mean time, I chronicle my experiences in road races at Yeti’s Race Reports (http://b.org.za/stories/races.htm).
I’ve found the time trial and some of my fellow runners to be a great source of inspiration. Were it not for the time trial and individuals like Laurens, Ken H, Walter, Karel, Neville and Elaine, I would seldom be able to overcome my impressive array of excuses. You’ll find most of their names in Yeti’s musings. The excuses emanate from my work in radio frequency spectrum management at the CSIR, a small farm, my work as a part-time ambulance jet driver throughout Africa, some occasional flying, making music, writing, travelling and a host of other activities.
My favourite race is probably the Spirit of Flight. My PB for 10 km is around 48 minutes, with 1:52 or so for the half marathon and 4:20 or so for the marathon. I keep hoping that I’ll be able to break four hours on the marathon before I finally have to hang up my running shoes. As for future plans, I’ve dabbled in triathlons and would dearly like to complete a full Ironman one day. I would also dearly love to complete a marathon on each continent. Maybe I should aim for Pyonyang in April. Just not so sure what they’ll do to me if I don’t make the cutoff…
Rietha is a familiar face to which I had been unable to put a name until now. She usually starts the time trial a bit earlier and runs alone, always looking determined and fast. When her name started appearing in the VTT results, I suspected that it might be her, so am very happy now to make sure that everyone in the club knows who she is.
Rietha is married and has two sons aged 22 and 23. She runs in the Masters category, which I would not have guessed judging by her speed.
She makes a living by “Training – specialising in Learnerships and Skills Programmes (Full-time). (Part-time) – MD of an NGO (BELIEVE)”.
Rietha provided some background to the NGO, about which she is obviously passionate.
The NGO is a non-profit and Public Benefit Organisation called the BELIEVE Foundation. It exists for the education, development, transformation and capacity building for impoverished communities and individuals within South Africa.
Its vision is to assist communities and individuals to BELIEVE that anything is possible. This arises from the belief that no one is fully empowered unless they have the ability to generate the means they need to build a sustainable future for themselves.
Its mission is to support the small business sector (including NGOs and community-based projects) as the ideal vehicle for the sustainable empowerment of people. Fighting unemployment is a national imperative, and a shared responsibility for everyone in a position to make a difference.
She has an extensive CV in the fields of education and counselling, so is certainly a busy person.
Asked about how she started running, she said “I was about 4 or 5 years old and ran about ± 3 km from our house to the field where my father and grandfather were working while my mom was watching me. It was the most amazing feeling and I knew I wanted to do this forever. Because of various factors/circumstances I did not run long distances while I was in school. At the age of 22/23 I started running again and have only stopped running for short periods since then (while I was pregnant and when I had 2 babies under the age of 2 years).
I joined the CSIR around 1993/94 for the first time. During my pregnancy and after the birth of my sons there was a period when I was not a member of the club.”
About the Comrades – “Never. I love trail running and that is my focus although I often participate in road running.”
Her favourite race is the Sunrise Monster. [Ed: it must be the training on the CSIR hill that helps her take the Monster punishment.] She considers the Otter Trail runs as being the peak performances in her running life. It is so long since she ran her 42km PB, that she can’t remember what that time was. However, she can proudly remember her 21km PB at 1hr47 ! Her best 10km is 51m35.
She may possibly be the only other club member to have been awarded Gauteng North Colours as a veteran under the banner of the CSIR club. The only other person I know of to have this provincial recognition is James da Silva. There could certainly be others, so please let me know who I have missed. She has many other proud achievements, one of them beating Bruce Fordyce in the Skukuza race, in which she came 2nd in her age group!
A goal she aims at but which I suspect may be derailed by the COVID-19 lockdown is to run the Trail2Teebus in October 2020. It is a 3 day stage run over a total of 70 km. A good reason for her run this event is that it is next to her hometown Hofmeyr.
Rietha says “Run! Because you can! I grew up in a small town called Hofmeyr in the Karoo. I spent a lot of time (all my time) in the veld (on foot or horseback) and that is where my love for the outdoors and running started.”
Rietha Gaybba is certainly an achiever and serves as a very good inpiration to members of our club and to the benficiaries of her BELIEVE organisation. Glad to have gotten to know you better Rietha!
2014 – Retto – The Challenge – 2nd Veteran Female Sub 8 finisher. She says Retto is simply running the Otter in the opposite direction.
Otter – The Challenge – 1st Veteran Female Sub 8 finisher
These two photos show her in the SPUR Gauteng Winter Trail Series 2017 where she topped the podium in the female Master’s category.
Ronell and Gerrit are both married and they each have two grown up daughters. They happen to be married to each other and so his daughters and her daughters are the same two people
Ronell is in her sixties and is a housewife.
Asked when she started running, she insists she is not a runner. [Ed: I recall feeling that imposter syndrome when I started running. I couldn’t call myself a runner until I realised that what I had practised to be able to do was more than what 99% of the population can do! ]
So she has not run a Comrades (as many of us haven’t either) and considers her favourite race to be the one that she actually was able to complete. Good Answer!
Not being a ‘runner’ she has no peak performances – yet …….
Her PB though is walking 10km in 90 minutes, which again is not something most adults can do. Well Done!
Her running aim is straightforward – “keep on doing it” she says.
Gerrit adds that their daughters work abroad.
He turns 62 in August later this year.
His start to running happened like this – “Started walking Parkrun in 2015, then slow running until we joined CSIR in 2018. Johan Botha convinced us that 10km is no worse than a 5 , give it a go.” [Ed: Occasionally I would be the first CSIR 10km runner in the Grand Master age group, but since Gerrit joined the club, I don’t stand a chance.]
Favourite race – “I did my first ever 21km this year and am still finding my feet in the longer distances. “ In this regard, he expressed this wish about his peak performance “If I can ever do a 21km in 2 hours it will be a HUGE achievement.” [Ed: I never cracked the 21k 2hr Gerrit, but am sure you will do it.]
His best 10km was completed in 59min and his best 21k was run in 2h09.
In general, his aim is “To keep on as long as possible and stay injury free”. [Ed: You have certainly kept busy on your treadmill during lockdown and are regularly submitting VTT results, so you are looking good.]
His greatest challenge “Was diagnosed with a Auto-immune Disease 35 years ago. To be able to run is a tremendous blessing for me.”
Well Done Gerrit! Stay Healthy.
Sibusisiwe is what people expect all CSIR Club runners to be – she is a research scientist. In answer to my questions, here follows what she tells us about herself.
It was not easy for her to choose a photograph, because she says that she is not a talented runner and “others I have were taken whilst still running and I don’t look as “gorgeous” and relaxed as in this picture above. I am not a talented runner, so when I am out there it is a battle and I am afraid it shows in those photos ”
Sibu has been married for 7 years and has been blessed with 2 children. “A handsome boy who is 6 years old and a feisty girl who is 2 and a half years old.”
Of her profession she says “I am a research scientist, more specifically, I am a statistician.” [Ed: I might need to call on you for some help with the VTT statistics ]
About running she says “I started running casually in 2014 following a friend Nontembeko Dudeni-Tlhone who had also started running. We were initially not official club members but we would join in the club’s time trials. This was after I had my son and I needed a way to keep fit aside from going to the gym. Prior to having a child, I was an active volleyball player, but after having him my schedule changed, restricting my availability in the evenings which meant that I could no longer play volleyball as I could not make the evening league matches. In 2015 I joined the CSIR running club officially and started participating in road races. “
“Running comrades is still a bucket list item for me. I plan to run it in 2021 and hopefully this time next year won’t become the following year.”
Her favourite race is the Two Oceans Half Marathon.
Asked about her peak performances “I don’t think I’ve had peak performances yet, but I’ve seen my running improve from completing 10 km in 1h36 in 2015 to completing it in 1h14 in 2019. I am not particularly talented as a runner, in fact, I find running challenging and I am usually part of the back-markers brigade. I keep at it for the discipline, but also having a child who is severely physically impaired motivates me to keep running in gratitude for the ability to run and walk. “
Her PBs are:
10 km: 01:14:10 (The Grove Road Race, 2019); 21 km: 02:49:48 (Phobians Pretoria 21 km, 2020); 42 km: 06:23:40 (Cape Town Marathon, 2016)
… and her future aims are:
“This season I am working on improving my speed, targeting sub-2:30 half-marathon in September this year. I plan to run Cape Town Marathon again in October and build-up to Comrades 2021.” [Ed: Since Sibu submitted her profile early in lockdown, the running future has been postponed until we don’t-know-when, so aims have to be rescheduled, even though training must continue.]
Sibu has a special wish: “I would love to run for charities at some point in my running career, especially when I can run decent times. I think it would actually be nice to hear from those in the club who run for charities on how it is done and guidelines for those who would like to do this. “
Please do contact Sibu if you have advice on running for charities.
Here we have another married couple. They are parents to two sons and a daughter. They are in their 40’s which in running terms makes them veterans.
They earn a living in the banking sector and felt the need for physical activity in 2015 when they started running in Polokwane.
Running the Comrades has been an intention ever since they started running, but they have not yet got further than ‘we’ll do it next year’.
Their favourite race is the Deloitte – they did not say which one but I am going to presume the full title of that race which is now the Pretoria Marathon.
Ignatius has PB’ed at 5h20 in the marathon while Xoliswa ran her first 42km at the Soweto marathon in 2019 supported by Ignatius, resulting in crossing the line together in time for a medal. Their 21km PB is 2h15 – together again – and over 10km it is 1h02 – again together.
They say “The highlight of the running is when we enjoy just being out early in the morning and enjoying each others company. Our goal is always to finish at our personal best but also use the time to bond and just enjoy life.”
An aim is to improve their finish times and to run the 42km consistently.
They sum up their approach to this sport thus: “Running is about enjoying the fresh air and time to bond, while you can also enjoy being healthy at the same time.”
The next time you see Xoliswa and Ignatius on the road or at the club gazebo, do say hello.
Ntsiki has gone to the effort of writing a delightful article about her CSIR sporting activity. Thank you! This is an inspiring story. She says:
I am a distance walker (I could be the only one in the Club – not sure ).
I am a mother of two, a 24 year-old daughter and a 19 year-old son. I am now experiencing the ‘empty-nest’ phase.
I have always been physically active. I loved the gym, aerobics in particular. Then in 2001, I started noticing a few joggers in my neighbourhood. I thought to myself, maybe I should try this, it looks fun, and will certainly make a difference in my pocket – less gym membership fees! I then started jogging and walking. I very quickly realised that I felt more comfortable walking rather than running, and in fact I was faster when walking than when running.
I started participating in races in 2008 and I did my first 10 km walk in November that year. I told everyone who cared to listen, because I thought that this would be my greatest achievement in terms of races! However, that was not to be. Because of the encouragement I received from a number of fellow runners at races, I summoned the courage to stretch myself a bit further.
In February 2011 I did my first 21 km walk in 2:51:56, and two months later did my first Two Oceans half-marathon in 2:49:56. I felt like what Comrades Ultra-marathon runners probably feel when they finish that race – on top of the world! It was also one of the most emotionally charged moments of my life. I had lost my husband in October 2010 and he and I had planned to do the Two Oceans for the first time together in 2011.
My longest distance was the Discovery 702 Walk-the-Talk in July 2011 where I walked the 30 km race in 04:16:54.
I joined the CSIR Running Club in 2015. My favourite race was the Kaapsehoop in 2015. I finished the half-marathon in 02:38:27.
A totally unexpected achievement was at the CSi Irene Farm Race in October 2018 where I was the third female walker in the 21.1 km to cross the finish line.
In 2019 I was forced to spend 7 months off the field, so to speak, for medical reasons. Then I did the Old Year’s Race in December, after this break, and I realised how much I had missed participating in races. I have come to appreciate the ability to be physically active and how therapeutic it is to me.
I know there are quite a number of athletes who have walked marathons, ultras, including the Comrades, and I have nothing but admiration for them. I however have no ambitions of doing marathons. I’m quite happy doing half-marathons
Ntsiki included this photo of her medals. She says it is the favourite bit of décor in her house!
Mark pointedly says he has one wife – would we have thought otherwise? She is Jane and they have been married for 21 years. They have a 17 year old son and 10 year old daughter. He says “Jane is a mad keen off-road trail runner, who’s still too fast for me downhill, and the other two seem to be getting into cross-country at school and seeing it (eventually) as a pleasure and not a punishment ! I can still beat the 17 year old over the longer distances but have resigned as a sprinter re the younger competition”.
Mark admits to being older than 21, even older than Lucas, but younger than James. Well actually he is 56 – of which about 30+ years have been spent running, at various levels of commitment and intensity.
Mark cannot really remember when he started running. He says “…..its been so long ! I started serious road running the year after Retha originally formed the club, so I guess it must be close to 21 – 22 years by now ? Before that I spent my first year in SA running with Harlequin’s but changed over to CSIR when the Forestry Dept research group I was working with was transferred to CSIR and formed the then new Forestek division; which became Environmentek. I’ve stuck with the CSIR club ever since, even after leaving the CSIR over 15 yrs ago to start my own company. During that time, I’ve been club chair for 4 years, done my stint has financial manager, newsletter editor, and been race director for 4 races that I organised, plus 1 extra that became my responsibility at the last moment. Organising a race is more stressful than changing jobs, getting married and buying a house”.
He is brutally honest and pragmatic about the Comrades. His answer to my question about that race was a short and sweet “Never”. He continues “Hopefully [that status] stays the same. Never caught the bug, despite many years of intra-club peer pressure”.
Your favourite race? “Wow, hard one. From a road perspective, definitely the old version of Long-Tom, running from Sabie to Lydenburg. That was a favourite for many, many years and I dragged the club to that for several annual and memorable away-weekends. Tough, but great. From a trail perspective, which has become a passion over the last decade and replaced a lot of my roadie adventures, it would be a mix of the Rhodes Ultra and Mont-Aux-Source. Both of which I have permanent numbers for. But there are so many other fantastic venue trails under the belt, including the long-one TO Table Mountain race, Three Peaks on the Lesotho border, Sani Stagger and the Kalahari challenge. The last one being quite memorable – organised to raise funds for a San/Bushman missionary station way off in the Kalahari, close to the Botswana – Namibian border. Basically, it involved being dropped off in the middle of no where from an old Bedford army truck with a GPS and then being told to find the way home across the desert, whilst competing with the San guys who ran without GPS !. Needless to say the San all finished hrs ahead of the GPS-lead runners … incredible speed and route finding capabilities !”
And your peak performance(s)? “On the trail, being mad enough to run 3 x successive Rhodes Ultra’s, knowing what I’d feel like from the previous run, when I was 50+. On the road, maybe the personal feeling of triumph after completing my 1st ever ultra on the old Bergville – Ladysmith route, maybe 20 years ago. Never imagined at that time I could run over 50km’s. Especially coming from a student running background in the UK where finishing a half marathon made you the village hero for a year, but over here doing the same is typically considered a pre-breakfast jog….”
“I think I’ve done all the time-based PB’s I want to do – the future PB is maintaining the love for running (with a bit of road and mtb cycling and swimming thrown in for cross-training confusion as well).”
Do you have any particular aims for your running in the future? “Actually, in the short term – myth busting. I’ve just swapped after 25 yrs with Saucony to Mr Price Sports shoes, which appear to be pretty much perfect for 1/4 of the price. Made the strange decision to test this out after reading multiple, brand independent reviews on running shoes which said what the on-shelf MPS shoes are the same as those used to win the Comrades and are good to go for other runners too. Time will tell if my knees and toe nails agree. I needed a new pair anyway.”
He ends off by saying “All is good for now – thanks for letting me introduce myself.”
Thanks for an entertaining runner’s bio Mark.
Kagiso (known to me as KG and to others as KK) is single and has one daughter.
He competes in the 50-60 age category, earning himself the description of a ‘Master’ runner.
He says “I started running about 10 years ago. I used to run on my own around the CSIR until Thabo Pooe and Raynold Zondo convinced me that I could run more than the 5k that I typically did in those days. I then joined the CSIR Running Club and that has contributed immensely to improvement in my running.”
His Comrades story goes like this, “I have started Comrades five times. On the first occasion I was cut-off at Drummond on the Up run and joined the happy company of Tiro (and Edward I think) in the real bus. On two occasions I arrived at the finishing line but several minutes too late to qualify for a medal.”
“Loskop is without doubt the race I enjoy the most. It is tough, but it is very well organised and running out of Middelburg knowing that a bag of oranges awaits those who get to the dam, is sufficient motivation. But I have also had very difficult races. My first marathon at the Vaal which was also supposed to be a qualification for Two Oceans ended after 5.20.! And I developed cramps for the first time ever. I will also never forget the first time I arrived at Fields Hill. It was steep, it was long, it was horrible. And I watched my bus slowly leave me behind. But I still returned the following year.”
His response to my question about his peak performance was a very positive “My best years are yet to come!!”
“My best 10k was at Swartzkop in 2018 (about 55 minutes), My best 21k was at Sefako Makgatho in 2018 (2.08); and my best marathon was at Kaapsehoop in 2015 (4.42). My best Comrades was 12.04. I did not get a medal, but I appeared on TV!”
Future aims? “Yes, to get my Comrades medal in 2020.” We will support you all the way KG.
He adds “I think that we have a great running club.” Glad to have you as a member!
Editors Note: Kagiso has been a staunch supporter of our club and has served on the committee in more than one portfolio as far as I am aware.
Erin and Willie will be married 24 years this year. Erin says “In fact, we met at a running group and instantly fell in love, hence running has a very special meaning for us. We have 4 very boisterous and gorgeous Golden Retrievers with whom we spend a lot a time with. They also enjoy a monthly Adventure Tails run which is part of Trail Adventure.”
They were born in the late 1960s, during the amazing Flower Power period (and tragic Vietnam war). Last of the hippie era.
They started running little bit more than 3 years ago. Erin says “It all started out with running the 5km Trail Adventure runs. Since we had not run for about 20 years it was no easy thing to do. We joined the CSIR in 2019. For us, running is not about winning, but about enjoying it and having fun.”
Asked about the Comrades she says “No, and we will never run it either. We do not even call that far. But we are super great supporters of the Comrades. We have the utmost respect for the runners who take on this race.”
“Way back in the 1990s I did the Sabie Shufflers and till this day this run has stayed with me, as it was my first 32km and the scenery was spectacular. But for Willie and I we have two races: the Kaapsehoop, since this was Willie’s first 21km and the Knysna Forest 21km because it was a real adventure and once again, the atmosphere and the scenery was breathtakingly beautiful.”
On their peak performances she says, “ Oh my soul ….. to finish a race (which we have accomplished to date) and then to finish a race without walking (there were a couple of successes in this category, but mostly there are some walking …….. )
“We only do 21km and 10km races. These are the distances we enjoy. For our PBs, we are working on it……. ”
Future running plans? “Yes, to put on our running shoes and hit the road and to run a 10km in just under an hour. As the saying goes ‘slow progress is better than no progress’ “
The upper photo was recently taken at the Knysna 21k last year and the second photo was taken a long time ago at the Munich City Run in 1999.
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.
Johan has recently hit the big 40 and is not married – he uses this opportunity to do some marketing – he says he is available!
“This [running] is all very new to me and I have had no experience in running when I started roughly two years ago.
I started going to the local parkrun at Botanical Gardens during 2017 after deciding on a healthier lifestyle and quitting smoking. At the time I never thought it would (ever) be necessary to run more than 5km and parkruns would be perfect. I was introduced to the club by friends, joined in and soon I realised I wanted to test my ability and in 2019 did my first 10km at the Wally Hayward Race.
Since then I have completed a number of 10km’s, the Vitality Run Series in 2019 as well as three half marathons. For 2020, I am setting my sights on a marathon.”
It is still too early in his running career to have done a Comrades – he says “Watch this space!”
He says “With limited experience in races, the Wally was one of my favourites last year.” He cannot even consider what the peak has been in his short experience and is confident that a good peak lies ahead.
Johan’s PBs are 1h04 for 10km and 2h24 for the half marathon. That is a good start Johan. Let us know when you achieve your first sub-60 10k.
About the future he says “I want to stay on the road for as long as I can, it is something I really enjoy. For me, it is less about breaking records and more about the accomplishment – achieving something that 5 years ago I would not have even considered attempting. There are a number of races which I would like to participate in, in future – locally and internationally.”
Please do say hello to Johan when you next see him. February 2020.
Tiro – running as a veteran – is a single man. He is the father of a son.
He joined the CSIR club in January 2014 so has gained some good experience. He admits that he has two DNFs (Did Not Finish) at the Comrades, but this has not put him off trying for a third time in June this year. All the Very Best with your Determination Tiro!
A race he remembers fondly is the The Tough One.
When I asked what he considers to be his racing peak, he said “It was 2016 when I qualified for comrades. Ran sub 5’s in all my marathons including the sub 6 at City to City ultra in 2015.”
His PBs are recorded on this screenshot below from his favourite running app. I suspect that an aborted Comrades features somewhere in that list of achievements.
Seeing as Tiro’s main running goal is to complete the Comrades Ultra, I am sure that he will be able to add a complete Comrades to that list!
Do say hello to Tiro when he next overtakes you on the road. January 2020.
Lucas at age 44 is married and has a 7 year old son named Khumo, who he says asks too many questions! Lucas is considering renaming him ‘Mr-Why’ and can’t wait to run a race with him.
In response to my question about when he started running, he said “I still remember correctly, my first day to running was on the 10 May 2011. It was hard and painfull – I could barely run 2km. I have to say, I used to hate running. I am now addicted – I need help!”
He continues “You wont believe but my first race was the CSIR race – 10km in 2011. I can still remember some tips from James just before the start. I then became a member of the running club in 2012.”
Lucas has Comrades 2018 and 2019 events under his running soles. He won’t be running that race in 2020 but will be back for more.
I asked him which is his favourite race – he had two answers.
“1. ACE race. It is quite a challenging race and it is early in the year especially after the festive season. It is always well organised and the locals on the way are supportive and encouraging. Also there is always a band playing at the top to encourage us as we navigate the hills. It is a nice race.
- As much as it is hard and brutal, Deloite/Phobians is my favourite marathon. I guess I get fun by competing against those hills even though I always come second best. One also had the opportunity for a panoramic view of the city. And I know I always have a nice biscuit waiting for me from Mama Fatima on the 2nd lap at the CSIR running club water point. She will literally stop me and say ‘Lucas you MUST have the biscuit’.”
Generally, if he he is not running Comrades that year, Lucas peaks from Sep to Nov, but if having run a Comrades, he is slower then. Otherwise, he performs better from March to May.
His PB’s are: 42km – 3:55 at Wally, 21km – 1:38 in Mamelodi, 10km – 00:47 at CSIR.
Lucas does not have an major goals for the future – he says : “I just enjoy running. It is fun and social.”
Please do say hello to Lucas when you next see him. January 2020.