Youth Run is a favourite

HOWICK — The Nelson Mandela Capture Site is always a popular tourist attraction with visitors from all over the world making the journey to visit the museum and see where South Africa’s first democratically-elected President was arrested in August 1962. But this weekend (August 24 and 25) the venue just outside Howick will be packed with enthusiastic sportsmen and women taking part in a series of events celebrating the life of the global icon.

The weekend of Mandela Day Marathon activities culminates in one of the country’s most popular standard marathon road running events with 13 700 athletes taking part in Sunday’s three road running races: a 42km standard marathon, a 21km half marathon and a 10km fun run.

On Saturday there are four more events which make up the action on the opening day of what is one of South Africa’s biggest multi-sport festivals. A Youth Run sets off from Lion’s River and ends at the Capture Site; 42km, 21km and a 10km mountain bike events all start and finish at the Capture Site, as do the 4km, 8km and 15km trail runs; and finally duathlon and triathlon athletes have their chance to be part of the action when their events take place at nearby Midmar Dam.

While close to a total of 20 000 runners, walkers and cyclists will converge on the famous venue for their various activities, for the 2 100 young athletes who line up for their 3,6km Youth Run there is only one event.

It is likely the Youth Run would also have been Mandela’s favourite event of the action-packed weekend. The revered politician’s love of children was well known and his strong desire to nurture, motivate and care for the future of the country’s youth led to the establishment of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. Mandela donated a third of his salary to the fund while President of South Africa.

It was his dream to provide a brighter future for the country’s youngsters and so it is likely the former President would have supported any event which was designed to benefit children.

The children’s races do not offer prizes, although the top three runners will win much-prized trophies and all athletes will get medals and a T-shirt.

The Youth Run, which draws participants from schools in the Umgungundlovu District, is not so much about winning and losing, but rather about furthering the aims and ideals of Nelson Mandela by developing the youth of the country.