My running career began in Johannesburg, South Africa in the early 1980s. When I started running I suffered from debilitating panic and anxiety attacks and depression.
It was a magical time to be a runner and as I struggled along at high altitude I did not realise that I was running in an era that would become known as South Africa’s golden age. As a twenty eight year old who was simply trying to lose weight, give up smoking and overcome depression, I was embarking on a journey that would last for 31 years and take me around the world. Running changed my life one footstep at a time.
Through hard work and dedication I would run distances and achieve times that were unthinkable in those early days and I would be privileged to know and watch some of the great names in South African road running perform almost every Sunday of the year.
There was no where else for our great runners to go. The international sanctions imposed on South Africa during the Apartheid regime meant that South African runners could not compete internationally and were doomed instead to compete against themselves in our goldfish bowl. As a consequence an entire generation of runners missed the opportunities that could have set them up for life had they been allowed to compete on the world stage.
Long distance running in South Africa in the 1980s was unique. It was unique because it was the only sport open to all races and as such played an important role in nation building at a time when the country was in the throes of a violent revolution. For this reason South Africans have a passionate and complex emotional connection to something we see as the pathway to salvation, a rite of passage, the stuff of legends, a mystical experience, a space for soul searching. We take endurance very seriously. For us, running isn’t just a bucket list colour run, it is a tribe or a brotherhood.
Today I live in Australia but my memories of that special time and the lessons I learned along the way are still vivid. If you would like some help with your running please get in touch.