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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

ISMO AC takes races to rural areas as all set for Fortress Reit 21km on Sunday 9 October

In a nation where unemployment is soaring, organised sport has become a luxury that many cannot afford - especially in South Africa's rural and peri-urban areas. But because of the low economic barriers to entry, athletics (running in particular) presents an opportunity to enrich the lives of the country's youth by giving them access to meaningful participation in community-based sports events. It is for this reason that ISMO Athletics Club have registered clubs around the country (especially in the rural areas) to take running to the people.

"ISMO Athletics Club is spread into different provinces including Athletics Vaal Triangle (AVT) as well as Border in the Eastern Cape because we feel like a lot of clubs are condensed around Central Gauteng (CGA) and Gauteng North (AGN). So we are choosing rural development to come and do athletics in an area that is not being tapped," Dorah Mngwevu told #TheTopRunner after organising successful 21km and 10km races in Rustenburg and Evaton as part of the Fortress Reit Running Series.

Dorah Mngwevu is passionate about athletics development in rural areas of South Africa. Photo Credit: MWMedia.

In the Vereeniging township of Evaton in the south of Gauteng, the race was accompanied by a coaching clinic which took place at the Evaton West Primary School. Assisted by her partner Israel Morake, they took scores of Foundation Phase youngsters through a series of drills aimed at fun and talent identification. Having grown up in the small town of Sterkspruit in rural Eastern Cape, Morake knows the difficulty of the journey that eventually took him to victory at the 1992 Two Oceans Marathon in 3:15:56 and a Comrades Marathon gold medal.

"This initiative is to organise coaching clinics - t's a fun athletics for children. We identified a gap in rural areas where there is a lack of good sponsored athletics and rural development events. It is to bridge the gap because most of exciting events are happening in big cities. Athletes from rural areas are going to benefit with exposure to athletics," said the 64-year old who remains fit enough to run a 4 minutes a kilometre.

Former Two Oceans Marathon champion Isreal Morake take the youngsters of Evaton West Primary through their paces during a coaching clinic which was sponsored by Fortress Reit Real Estate. Photo Credit: MWMedia.

And Mngwevu's hard work which began when she started running in 1989 has not gone unnoticed. Her journey from being a leading runner in the colours of Philani Joggers, to Gold Field Security Mine Sports Officer in 1996, eventually saw her elected on the Board of Athletics South Africa where she served from 2013 to 2022. It makes her love for the sport deep and broad. In recognition of this lifetime of service, the Momentum G-Sport Awards chose Mngwevu as the laureate of their 2022 Special Recognition award which celebrates a woman who goes beyond the call of duty, and has made a long and positive impact on SA women in sport.

"It has been a long walk to this recognition. A very long walk. I’m so emotional and so grateful. Thank you to all the sponsors, especially in the rural areas where we do the work. It’s for the children, it’s for the women, it’s for the girl child. But also let us not forget the boy child because they are part of the community - therefore it’s our duty as well, so that they take care of our daughters. They are our sons."

Mngwevu and Morake continue their work giving opportunities to rural athletes. The Frotress Reit Running Series makes its final stop of the year in Sterkspruit on Sunday 9 October where a 21km and 10km race will take place at the Sterksruit Plaza.

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