THE wind was howling at the start of this year’s Kowie Striders 27km race which took place from the Big Pineapple in Bathurst to the Port Alfred Country Club last Saturday.
The annual event, sponsored by Buco, has become a favourite on the road running calendar and attracts each year athletes from all over the Eastern Cape, and some from further areas.
The event also comprises a 27km walk as well as a 10km run for those runners who are not up to the 27km run. The 10km run started at the Port Alfred Country Club and followed a circular route before ending at the same venue. Runners and walkers in the 27km races enjoyed a tough but scenic route that took them through pineapple farms and then through the Port Alfred CBD, on towards the country club.
Due to the strong winds, runners experienced an impromptu obstacle course in the form of a big tree that was blown over by the wind. The tree blocked the road but runners responded in good spirit by not letting the tree slow them down. The Ndlambe Fire Department responded promptly and cleared the road.
Luthando Hejana, sponsored by Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, was the first man home and also the winner for the overall race in a time of 1:28:56. Close on his heels with a time of 1:29:59 was George Ntshiliza. For the ladies, 53-year-old Christine Claassen finished with a time of 2:07:47 winning both the ladies section and the over 50s.
“I have competed in this race a few times, and I love it. The wind was very strong; it was coming from the front for the first 11km, and then it was behind us, and then again pushing us back from the front for the last section,” she said.
For the 10km race, in first place for the men’s was Andre Ketchem with a time of 0:33:06 Anelisiwe Matshikwe was first over the finish line for the ladies at 0:48:00.
Race organisers said the event had been very successful and had more runners than last year.
“All athletes had a most enjoyable day and luckily are used to all kinds of weather conditions. Enough refreshments were available at water points and the chocolates that were handed out and the Pam Golding water point were a real treat,” said Kowie Striders member Frieda Greyling.
Pam Golding received the prize for the best water table.
“Registration on Friday night and Saturday morning went smoothly, thanks to all the hard work from all the volunteers and marshals throughout the races,” said Greyling.
After prize giving athletes and supporters relaxed in the bar area of the club, and only left late afternoon.
“A big thank you to Buco, and all of the other sponsors including NSRI, FITT – Candice Pretorius, Neave Stotter attorneys, Guest Revu, Pam Golding, Harcourts, MultiSecurity, El Shaddai Christian Academy (10km event), Wimpy, Debonairs and Harry Lloyd for all the announcements and music,” said Greyling.
“A special thanks to Lesley and Gavin from SuperSpar at Rosehill Mall, and to Werner from Pick n Pay at Heritage Mall,” said Greyling.
Greyling said several permanent numbers were handed out to those who finished their 10th 27km event and double laurel badges were handed to Marlene Wiese (Port Alfred) Mof Botha, Jan van Eeden en Sylvan Blignaut (Port Elizabeth) and Terri-Lynn Penny from Grahamstown who did their 20th 27km event.