In the winter of 2010 my wife, Adelaide, was invited by a colleague of hers to come and run at the Rondebosch Common.
At first I did not want her to go, because so many people had been attacked there in the past. Eventually I decided to take Adelaide there, but I had no intention of running.
However, after having listened to coach Farouk Meyer’s talk, I decided to give it a try – that was in October 2010. Since then I have not looked back.
I have been involved in the past with swimming and karate – but mostly in an administrative capacity as a club secretary and team manager for international tournaments. But I have never experienced such warmth, camaraderie and appreciation as to what I am experiencing now at Itheko.
I am not interested in competitive running, but the greatest satisfaction is to plough back what I have learnt and experienced so far as a runner and group coordinator.
My time for the first 10 km race that I ever ran in my life – December 2010 Vital Run in Somerset West – was 2 hours and 9 minutes. I have progressed a little, but it gives me more pleasure to assist others to achieve their potential.
By the way, a meritorious award for Best Improved Master Runner (Male) was awarded to me by Itheko in 2011. Maybe that was the reason why I was asked by coach Farouk Meyer in 2012 to assist as a group leader. It needs to be mentioned that my wife, Adelaide, received the award for Best Improved Master Runner (Female) at the same Awards Ceremony.
It is awe-inspiring when I see beginners take the first step, figuratively speaking, and surpassing their current abilities – in all the cases eventually running faster than me. It is overwhelming to run in a bus with them and see how they finish their first race. Some of these former beginners have had such astounding achievements later, e.g. competing in Two Oceans Ultra-marathons, Comrade Marathons. I am happy that I could in a small way contribute to the physical, mental and even social advancement of our runners.
As you know, Itheko has a multi-facetted approach to the well-being of our runners. I am actually suffering from a chronic arthritis problem that runs in our family, but through continuous training I keep those joints moving and happy and socialising with other legs. What better free treatment than that can you get?
With this holistic approach to life, I initiated a few projects at Itheko, e.g. a Toy Run for children at the Red Cross Memorial Hospital; visiting patients at the Groote Schuur Hospital and handing out fruit to them; donating bread parcels to homeless people in subways during training runs; organising the recent donation of lovely gifts to mothers and infants at Groote Schuur Hospital Maternity Wing. But none of these projects could materialise without the awesome and unselfish support of the amazing people at Itheko.
I need to mention the wonderful support of a very kind person, my co-coach Cassiem Mohamed. He also assisted me magnificently in 2013 when I was commissioned by coach Farouk Meyer to successfully manage the marshals on the V&A Waterfront route during the 21.1 km Jive Slave Route Challenge.
Many people think that I am a bus driver in real life, which is not true, but it has been a humbling experience to lead the Itheko bus for beginners on numerous occasions, but memorable was when I was given the opportunity in two consecutive years to lead the massive Itheko bus during the 2012 and 2013 Gugulethu Reconciliation Run.
My former coaches, e.g. Waleed, Faheem, Yaseen, Fuad, Ebrahim, Farouk Meyer, have all contributed to my approach to running and the runners – Thank You for your valued input. Thank you Cassiem, our co-coach, for establishing our own running Facebook forum: Ammies Running Group.
But most of all, I thank the Almighty and the great Itheko family for allowing me to be of service to Itheko. I simply enjoy every moment with them. Shukran!
Send us your story, we’d love to hear it.