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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

Mapaseka Makhanya praises Fortress Running Series for taking races to the township

Mapaseka Makhanya has praised organisers of the Fortress Running Series for taking races to the people. After kicking off in Venda last month, the second instalment of the 10km and 21km series took place at the Evaton Mall in the south of Gauteng on Sunday. Makhanya who started running in Soweto and went on to represent South Africa at the 2017 World Championships in London, believes that township races are key to unlocking the wealth of athletic with which South Africa is blessed.

Top runners and youngsters go flying at the start of the 10km event of the Fortress Running Series Evaton race on Sunday 20 August. Photo Credit: Fortress Running Series/Tumelo Mabua.

"I decided to take part because the Fortress Running Series aligns with my own vision of brining running back into our own communities and into the townships. There’s no better way for us elite athletes to inspire the younger generation to join the sport than coming here," said the winner of the 2013 SPAR Grand Prix. "There’s a girl who came to me and cried - literally cried. She is eighteen asked me to coach her. I’m so humbled. So when we have girls do that, let’s encourage them and let’s motivate them. So I’m glad that I came and big up to the Fortress team for this race," said the Diepkloof Athletic club top runner.

Makhanya was the third woman across the finish line in the 21km event as Boxer Athletic’s Club’s Cornelia Joubert won in 1:22:10 ahead of Rudo Mhanderwa of the Nedbank Running Club who finished in 1:23:32. The men’s race was dominated by the Pitch Track Club where Olympian Elroy Gelant won in 1:07:21 followed by his PTC teammate Ian Slinger (1:07:41), while Tiisetso Mokhoma took third (1:08:10).

Makhanya poses with local youngster Keketso who says she is inspired by the Diepkloof Athletic Club top runner. Photo Credit: Fortress Running Series/Tumelo Mabua.

Aside from the top runners that battled for line honours, hundreds of social runners took part

especially in the 5km event. In total over 560 participants ran and walked through the streets of the Emfuleni Local Municipality township as the mayor Councillor Sipho Radebe looked on. Fortress Real Estate’s Kelly Carmichael says bringing communities together is what it’s all about.

"The Fortress Running Series came about as a result of doing what we do best which is bringing communities together. Our business really is about bringing people to our establishments to the retails centres. We are asking people to spend time here and a good way to spend your time is by doing something healthy," she explained. "You have the professional runners running with the amateurs. It’s good to be out there in the environment and we’re together and we’re having fun. And that’s the point - to bring people together around a common goal," said Charmichael.

Community members met on Saturday 19 August to clean up the streets of Evaton ahead of the race. Photo Credit: Fortress Running Series/Tumelo Mabua.

Race day was preceded by athletics coaching clinics at Evaton West Primary School and Letsema Primary School on Wednesday 16 August and then a cleanup on Saturday 19 August which saw community members come together to pick up litter along the route.

The third stop of the four legged Fortress Running Series series takes place at the Sterkspruit Mall in the Eastern Cape on 8 October 2023.

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