Youngsters in it for the long run…

ARD Athletics' Kyle Mckinon laces up next to some of his prized possessions.

The Fairmount High School pupil, Kyle Mckinon caught everyone’s eye when he won the junior section of the Slave Route challenge, earlier this year.

Also playing for Stephanian-Ottery, the youngster is slowly proving to be a multi-talented sportsperson with a great potential, as he is doing well on the soccer field too.

In its sixth year, the race will once again take place at Fairmount High School in Grassy Park.

The club’s secretary Adielah Samodien said they expected more than 3 000 participants this year. She said their focus has always been on the youth and this year will be no different.

“That is why there is prize money up until fifth position in both male and female junior categories,” she said.

That will, without a doubt, be a motivation enough for youngsters like Kyle and others.

Samodien said they exceeded expectations in terms of development so far as the number of their juniors proved to be highly competitive – finishing on the podium – while enjoying their development.

“We place great emphasis on growing junior runners, thus this year some of them already achieved top honours at major events.

“The club’s athletes are always improving – we saw a record growth of members participating in Marathons (42km) and Ultra-Marathons (more than 42km) in the last year,” she said.

In addition to next month’s Three Vlei race, the club will also participate in four 15km races, 23 10km races, 11 21km races as well as three marathons, before the end of the year.

Some of these races, said Samodien, will have 5km fun runs which are ideal for beginners.

The club was established back in 1997 when Achmat Salie and Amien Pietersen felt that there was a need for an athletics club in the southern suburbs.

“At the time there was no running clubs south of the railway line. Running for leisure was a foreign concept in the Grassy Park area and Mr Salie and Mr Pieteresen set out to remedy that,” said Samodien.

ARD was soon established and started out with about 20 members.

That number grew as the years went by with members taking part in major running events such as the Two Oceans Marathon, the Cape Town Marathon as well as the Comrades.

“The focus, at the beginning, was on developing a strong foundation embedded in helping the local community.

“By hosting a number of fun runs that attracted up to a thousand runners, ARD was able to assist local educational institutions in the area.

“With the resurgence of road running in the last six years ARD, like many clubs, started growing phenomenally especially in Grassy Park, incorporating members from all over the southern suburbs,” Samodien added.

“She said regular training sessions are conducted on a weekly basis by a coach and senior experienced members.

“We pride ourselves on providing a platform to the communities for a healthy lifestyle and endeavour to promote family values, while having fun. Hence we are known as the ‘ARD Family’,” she said.