Port Elizabeth of Yore: Howard Sherman – The Consummate All-Round Sportsman

For the most part, sport in the nineteenth century was an amateur activity with significant prizes not being awarded to winners. Even sixty years ago, many international sportsmen were compelled to be employed fulltime in some other profession. In other words, sport was not a paying occupation but rather performed almost as a labour of love. This was the milieu into which Howard Sherman was born yet he thrived.

Main picture: Howard Sherman 1861-1935

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Comrades Marathon Connection

Prior to 1975, the Comrades Marathon was only open to white men. Despite this restriction, several women and black people ran the race in contravention of that restriction. One such person was Robert Mtshali, a young black runner, who in 1935 completed the race in 1935 as an unofficial runner in the time of 9:30. To provide Mtshali with some form of recognition for his achievement, a local Councillor, Councillor Dr. Vernon Lyall Shearer, presented him with an unofficial award.  

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A Sunday Jog through Soweto

This morning’s race was in Orlando, Soweto. Many whites refuse on principle to run in the townships. The usual reasons advanced are the lack of cleanliness combined with safety concerns.  Whilst accepting the former as generally a given considering that these areas are populated by the lower classes, in the case of the latter it is no more dangerous to run races in rich or poor suburbs. It might be unchartered territory to run through Soweto but many whites will be surprised both confirming their preconceptions whilst dispelling others. 

This is a journey through one suburb of Soweto. Please join me on my jog.

Main picture: The Orlando Community Hall

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The Rand Athletic Club 10km Race on 15th May 2016

In his heyday, I recall Bruce Fordyce declaring in his non-dilettantish almost boyish way that once the cosmos appeared, winter was nigh and it was time to peak for Comrades. His fragile figure belied his steely determination, his steadfast conviction and his obsessive focus on the minutia of winning the Comrades. Moreover with his urbane charm, he bewitched the South African public and seduced a nation with his self-deprecatory charm.

 On the other hand, for me it was not the sudden emergence of this herbaceous perennial plant which made an impression but rather it was the annual RAC 10km run a week before Comrades. Almost like a cathartic release, it signalled the end of the Comrades taper but more importantly, a heightened awareness of the daunting task shortly at hand.

Main picture: Instead of the usual field of 3000 runners, it was a field in the hundreds which pitched courtesy of the inclement weather Continue reading

Assessment of the Cradle of Humankind 21km race on 27th April 2016

Since the Krugersdorp Road Runners Club relocated their race from Central Krugersdorp to the Kromdraai / Sterkfontein Caves area over a decade ago, this race has definitely been one my favourite races. It is a genuine country run without the traffic flashing past at great speed. The undulating hills interspersed with game farms including a well-known lion farm provide an additional incentive to participate in this race. Again we were not disappointed as a liger was visible.

Main picture: Prior to the start, a hot air balloon silently floated over. All pictures by Margie Asprey Continue reading

Trail Run in the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy

Trail Runs are not my favourite form of running for two reasons: Invariably I trip and fall and secondly because, unlike road running, one can never get into a steady stride. As such, it is a case of changing gears all the time which is tiring. However it does have some advantages such as viewing some of the stunning places within less than an hour’s drive from Joburg.

This morning’s 15km trail run was held in the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy just off the R511 to Pretoria. Starting at a drug rehabilitation Centre called Netso Plaas – Just so Farm – the owner must be a Rudyard Kipling fan as Kipling is famous for his Just So stories.

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Road Races Redolent of a More Gracious Past

Over the weekend of 16th / 17th August, two road races were held which highlighted Gauteng’s gracious & glorious past. Too focused on their running, many failed to notice or care. But I did. Isn’t that partly what running is all about?

What is the essence of a great race? What ingredients does it require before the majority of the runners will exclaim, “That was a superb race!” Of course all situations will all have their cynical detractors who will censure or dismiss with scorn even the best organised events. One such runner was Eugene. Perhaps due to his brilliant mind, he would deprecatingly scoff at the organisation of even the best organised events.

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An Icy Race: The Sterkfontein Dam 25km Run

This would be the coldest race that I have ever run in my life. With snow on the Berg and a wind off the mountain, there would be both a gusting wind and sub-zero temperatures to contend with

At five thirty on a wintry May morning in Warden it is usually cold. The tentacles of frost cover the fields as the subdued cattle in the stubble fields patiently await the first yellow brightness in the eastern sky.The desiccated mielies whisper in the breeze, shrugging off their frosty appendages. The pre-dawn mist hangs in the dips and valleys mapping out the twists and turns of the water course.

But this day was different. Extremely different. The temperature gauge in my BMW reads minus 5 degrees but with the wind chill factor from a snow covered Drakensberg, the actual temperature must have been below minus 10 degrees.

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Poisoned Chalice or Fool’s Errand?

Report back on the Dawn to Dusk 80km Running Race in August 2013


A few weeks ago [July 2013] I became aware that Nigel was becoming concerned about my running ability. Normally when one has a running mate and one beats them convincingly without even trying, one has no compassion. One just feels elated at thrashing one’s competitor.

Then it struck me. It had nothing whatsoever to do with empathy or even sometimes a mock show of compassion, but real unadulterated concern: the Dawn to Dusk was drawing neigh!

Nigel definitely had a Poisoned Chalice!

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IoT: What impact will it have on Road Running?

The next wave of technology is currently is the process of being born. Its impact will be profound, touching all of us in unimaginable ways.

Being so novel, even the name of this technology has not yet been agreed upon. A tentative proposal is the prosaic Internet of Things – IoT. Other suggested appellations are: machine to machine [MtM], machine to infrastructure [MtI], the Internet of Everything [IoE], the Internet of Intelligent Things or the totally trite & unimaginative Intelligent Systems.

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