Christel House principal tackles Comrades Marathon for pupils

Ronald Fortune hopes to raise funds for his school’s feeding scheme.

High school principal and avid runner, Dr Ronald Fortune, will attempt the Comrades Marathon this year in aid of his pupils at Christel House South Africa.

The non-profit school in Ottery offers no-fee scholarships to pupils from some of the most impoverished communities on the Cape Flats and Dr Fortune will be running the gruelling 90km ultra-marathon to raise funds for the school’s feeding programme – a programme that ensures pupils receive two nutritious meals and snacks at school every day.

Being a staff member at the school for over 18 years he didn’t always have good health and his health and fitness journey in becoming a marathon runner was no walk in the park.

In 2014 he weighed a reasonable 90kg and never would have guessed the actual condition that his body was in until the school conducted health check-ups for staff; he realised that his results were not quite what he expected and were far from favourable.

Dr Fortune was told that if he continued his unhealthy lifestyle, he would have been reducing his life expectancy considerably because of high blood pressure and cholesterol.

As the breadwinner of his family’s household, the decision in changing his lifestyle for the better was no choice: “I started this journey, not for myself but for my family’s sake. I changed my diet by lessening my carbohydrate and sugar intake and started exercising. My wife played a huge part in supporting my health journey into becoming a better version of myself.”

Dr Fortune’s first marathon was the Peninsula Half Marathon race in 2016 and his most recent was the Two Oceans Half Marathon (21km) he ran with his family.

This will be Dr Fortune’s second attempt at the Comrades Marathon. His first attempt was in 2019 when he “hit the wall” at 80km, the term commonly known among runners when the body experiences excruciating pain and your muscles are pulled tight.

He was devastated as he was so close to reaching the end.

“The pace I ran was too fast and that made me reach a blank wall at 80km. My muscles started popping. I tried my best to band-aid my legs with the little material I had with me, but my body gave up.”

Dr Fortune said this time around he knows what to expect and the motivation of running for his pupils gives him the extra push to finish the race.

Dr Fortune is one of nine Comrades Marathon runners who are running to raise funds for Christel House SA. To support Dr Fortune’s fundraiser, visit the givengain website and search for his name.

He will also be participating in the school’s biggest fundraiser for the year, the Virtual Fitness Challenge, taking place in September.

The challenge will see individuals and teams from all fitness levels virtually participating by walking, running, or cycling during September. To find out more, visit www.charityfootprints.com/chsa and for more information about Christel House SA contact campaign coordinator, Jameelah Ebrahim at jebrahim@sa.christelhouse.org or 021 704 9408.