Iconic runner opens new local parkrun

Bruce Fordyce and his wife Jill at a recent event in White River.

On Saturday South African marathon and ultramarathon athlete, Bruce Fordyce officially opened Sabi River Resort as a new venue for the ever-popular parkrun. He is best known for having won the South African Comrades Marathon a record nine times, eight of which were consecutive. Fordyce added another medal to his collection when he managed to secure ninth place in the parkrun in a time of 25:49. The first runner to cross the finish line was Nick Anderson, who did so in 20:05.

The turnout was great and between locals and visitors, around 53 runners participated. The parkrun is a five-kilometre, single-lap, anti-clockwise course and is a mixture of grass and paved paths. Fordyce, who is the head of Parkrun SA, introduced the first one in the country in 2011 after being invited to a parkrun in the United Kingdom, where it had originated.

“He approached me to set up the event at Halls Gateway and we had our first race in December 2013,” said Tracey Cresswell, events director in Mbombela.

“Anyone can join. All you have to do is register on our website, bring your printed barcode in order to register your time and then you can compete in any event around South Africa and even the world,” she added.

“This is a great community-upliftment programme which promotes good health and encourages physical activity. We have had people in their 70s and amazingly a three-year-old who completed the race,” said Cresswell.

“One of the attractions is that it’s a timed race.

“It motivates competitive, cross-country, and casual runners to improve their time each week. We get people who cheer and say, ‘I was three seconds faster!’ It means a lot to them.”

Locals can take part in the event every Saturday from 07:00 (in summer) and 08:00 (in winter) and after each race you can grab a post-parkrun coffee at the Sabi River Sun Terrace.

The organisers wish to thank all the volunteers who made the event possible.

“It is very important to acknowledge the volunteers who are the heart and lifeblood of parkrun. Without them, these events just wouldn’t happen,” Fordyce said.

“I have loved the Lowveld ever since I came here on a school trip. We went to the Kruger National Park (KNP) and ‘got’ the magic. I never come to this area and miss a visit to the park,” he said during his recent visit to White River.

The parkrun events are growing in number across the country, with the Kruger Lowveld area now boasting venues in Malalane, Nkomazi, Mbombela and Hazyview. Many additional venues around South Africa recently started their own parkrun events; namely Sardinia Bay, Port Elizabeth and Ventersdorp. Fordyce said he hopes there will be one million South African members registered by next year.

Hazyview Herald

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