The clock is ticking… There’re seven days and counting til the
World Ultra Trail Champs 2013 in north Wales, where the SA team will be battling
it out against 80 men and 60 women from 22 countries.
While SA’s sports administrators squabble
in their boardrooms and play at politics, leaving the country’s road, track and
field athletes foundering about their future, SA’s trail running fraternity is
gearing up for two massive opportunities to showcase its best.
This time next week, Saturday 6 July, a
team of seven of SA’s top ultra-distance trail runners, (3 men, 4 women), will
be competing in the 4th IAU World Trail Running Championships in Gwydyr Forest, Llanrwst,
North Wales (IAU World Ultra Trail Running Champs 2013). And in five weeks’ time, on Saturday 3 August, eight of our country’s
best long distance trail speedsters (4 men, 4 women) will be blasting the field
in the World Long Distance Mountain Challenge in Poland (World Mountain Running Long Distance Champs 2013)
To say athletics is a hot topic in South
Africa at the moment is an understatement. It has been in a mess, plagued by
financial maladministration and fraught with corruption for years. The few good
souls (or single good soul?) in the ranks trying to steer the gravy train
towards straighter tracks have/has a hugely unenviable task.
That trail running happens to be the one
sport within SA athletics that will be representing the country internationally
right now says everything about our sport: as a fraternity we’re not swayed by
politics and we’re driven by our passion for our sport. Just yesterday we saw
an act that epitomises the essence of trail running – the community rallied
together to raise more than R12 000 to enable SA’s long distance trail
champ, Thabang Madiba, to get to the race in Poland. In just a few hours, trail
runners did what our highly paid sports administrators weren’t able to do in
more than a year. It says it all, really.
Political gripes aside, the team for Wales
is ready! I’m proud to say I’m on that team, together with Charl Souma,
Christiaan Greyling, Dirk Cloete, Tracy Zunckel, Landie Greyling and Chantel
Nienaber. And we’re so excited to soon be standing on the start line in our Green+Gold,
shoulder to shoulder with many of the world’s best.
Truth be known, I’m terrified. My build up
hasn’t been nearly what I’d have wanted it to be – an inflamed sesamoid bone in
my foot has meant my mileage and training intensity has been far less than what
it should be for an ultra. But one thing’s for sure – I’m certainly not
Tick… tock… tick… tock…
Labels: Athletics South Africa, Chantel Nienaber, Charl Souma, Christiaan Greyling, Dirk Cloete, Gwydyr Forest, IAU World Ultra Trail Running, Landie Greyling, Thabang Madiba, Tracy Zunckel