42 consecutive Comrades medals: How 63 year old Wietse keeps going
Amongst those nursing their aches and pains today after completing the full 90km of the #ComradesCentenaryHopeChallenge yesterday is Wietsche Martinus Ivan van der Westhuizen. Known simply to his friends as Wietse, this youthful 63 year old is probably half way through a round of golf less than 24 hours after running 90km in 11 hours and 10 minutes, with the second half 23 minutes faster than the first.
"I started running when I was about 11, doing track and cross country. Then I did my first road race at just 15 years old - the Kempton Park 25km. It almost killed me because I wasn't used to running that far," laughs the former school teacher who grew up in Gauteng before moving to Cape Town's northern suburbs.
But the running bug had bitten and not too long after that 25km ordeal he found himself on the start line of the famous Comrades Marathon. "What actually happened is a friend of mine Dr. Henry Nortjie invited me to run a race in Cape Town. I didn't realise it was the Two Oceans Marathon and I hadn't done a marathon in my life. I was still young at 19 years old and I realized if you can do 56km, then you can do the Comrades. So three months later I did the Comrades. It was a long day, but I think I finished in 10:20," explains the ASCICS Frontrunner.
That began a journey of 42 consecutive Comrades Marathon finishes, as he works toward his goal of becoming the first human being to complete 50 consecutive Comrades Marathons. It is an amazing study of consistency from a man who will be into his seventies by the time he achieves his goal.
"Looking after your body is something you have to do every day of your life," is the advice of this youthful senior citizen. "Your body is like you car, if you don't look after it, it will overheat. I'm very fortunate. I'm with a company called SA Natural Products, they have sponsored me for the last 25 years. I've been using Echinaforce for ages now, and am still using it on a daily basis as well as THRESHHold and Alkaline powder because I'm trying to keep my body in shape," says the man who completed the 2020 Comrades Marathon Virtual run on a treadmill at his house.
Although the global pandemic forced the cancelation of the last two editions of The Ultimate Human Race, Westie is keeping himself fit to tackle the distance and achieve his goal as soon as an official Comrades takes place again. "You must be racing ready everyday. Age is just a number. You don't have to be old. You mustn't think you are old. Make sure you are surrounded by a lot of youngsters because that way you'll stay young," he concludes.
Tune into #TheTopRunner on SuperSport throughout the month of June to catch the stories of amazing senior citizens whose athletic achievements seem to defy age.