Just as the green shoots of spring have started emerging from the brown winter landscape, so sportsmen and women are emerging out of pandemic hibernation with triathletes, trail runners and mountain bikers finally able to look forward to some racing again.
September saw some signs of sporting life with a couple of mountainbike events leading the way, while triathlon and trail run organisers are confident they will soon get all the necessary approvals to restart competitions once more.
However, despite some signs of life for the sporting industry, virtual and semi-virtual racing is still the new normal and September was packed with events where runners and riders were competing against the clock.
Probably the biggest of these events was the popular FNB Run Your City Series Heritage Day Virtual Run on September 24. The title may have been something of a mouthful, but runners were lapping up the chance to join in and just over 15 000 runners took part across the country (and a few celebrated Heritage Day with a run outside South African borders as well).
“We are thankful to each and every runner who participated,” says Michael Meyer, Managing Director of the event organisers, Stillwater Sports. “I am sure we made history today as thousands of runners showed true South African camaraderie in completing this exciting version of the event. We hope that many runners were able to finish off the day with a braai – to celebrate family, friends and good health.”
One of South Africa’s top athletes, Elroy Gelant, enjoyed the opportunity to connect with athletes who are normally plodding along far behind his three minutes a kilometre pace. “I joined a group of teachers from the Dagbreek Primary School in Carletonville. They were so committed that they literally marked out a 10km route that even had water points that were manned by learners and parents. It felt good to experience the vibe of a race again.”
One of the unique races within a race at the virtual Run Your City events was the Puma Beat Bolt Sprint. Runners were encouraged to reserve some energy and give it their all over the final 100m. Brandon Wightman and Nkhutse Ntsimane were the fastest male and female runners respectively and each took home a R10 000 PUMA Retail Shopping Experience for their final sprint.
More event information and updated events calendar and links to results can all be found at www.finishtime.co.za