To Bridgetown and back

Shifaan Ryklief

Billed as the “Freedom to Run and Walk Day”, the action kicked off at the crack of dawn as thousands laced up for Nantes Athletic Club’s inaugural 10km road race.

Runners representing various clubs from across the city, including neighbouring clubs Gugulethu, TopForm, Central, Ommiedraai Friends and Itheko, took part in the event.

The ice cold weather could not dampen the spirit of the crowd who lined up for the 10km run, 10km WP league walk and a 5km fun run.

It was all systems go as race marshals and traffic officials were on point and the bang of the starter’s gun sent more than 4 000 runners on their way.

Gugulethu Athletics Club’s Vuyolwethu Mbukushe was the first runner to complete the route, crossing the finish line first, with Itheko’s Brandon Pullian finishing in second.

Shamiel Dramat was first for neighbouring club Topform Athletics and Ammaar Christian ran in first for the hosts.

Organising committee member, Fadia Roberts, said the event exceeded all expectations.

“We celebrated our second birthday in January, and our chairperson Caroline Peters, suggested that we host our first official road race under the Western Province Athletics (WPA) banner this year,” said Roberts.

“We thought that Freedom Day was the perfect opportunity to do it.

“We had more than 4 000 entries and everyone who completed the race, received a medal,” she said.

Roberts said the club started out with just 10 people looking to keep fit, and are now close to having 500 registered members.

“Last year, we started a morning group on a Monday and Wednesday which starts at 8.30am; and our evening groups run at 6.15pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“We also have core classes which take place on Mondays and Thursday evenings at the club house,” she said.

Meanwhile, for one of Topform’s inform runners, Shamiel Dramat, 56, it was a memorable race because he also ran a personal best (PB) time in the 10km run.

“It was good weather for a race and it was a nice fast course.

“There were not many turns but nice long stretches, and it was also a fantastic route going through the neighbourhood,” said Dramat.

“I think everything went smoothly on the day, from the marshals who were in place to the water stops.

“Yes, I crossed the finish line first for my club, but for me, it was more about my PB time of 40.53min that I ran.

“My previous time was 43.20min,” said Dramat – who, like many of the runners present, recently ran the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon.

Dramat said his PB came through a combination of factors, including the race being a flat one. He was well rested and felt fresh at the starting line.

He said after being introduced to the sport back in 2010, he found a passion for road running and never looked back.

“This is my sixth year with the club. I started running on a temporary licence before I joined Topform.

“My colleague who runs for Celtic encouraged me to try it out, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

“It’s an individual sport which means you are able to manage your own time, on which days you want to run, and that’s what I like about it.

“My first big race was in 2010 when I did the Two Oceans half marathon. And, in 2013 and 2014 I ran the back-to-back Comrades Marathons but decided to take a break from the race to achieve my goals at the ultra marathon.

“So far, I’ve done five ultra marathons and I’m aiming for 10,” said Dramat.

“I always attempt new training techniques to improve on my times.

“For the last ultra marathon, I went with a high mileage training regime which meant I ran almost 1 000km before the marathon, and it made a big difference to my race,”he said.

* Nantes will host a Western Province Athletics (WPA) cross country event on Saturday May 14. For more information, call Fadia Roberts on 072 972 7765.