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  • Mosibodi Whitehead

'We identified a gap in rural areas' - Israel Morake on FORTRESS REIT SERIES

As running events return en masse around the country following a difficult two years for mass participation sport, one race organiser has decided to do things a bit differently now that the worst of the lockdown is behind us. ISMO Athletic Club which is the brainchild of Comrades Marathon gold medalist Isreal Morake and former Athletics South Africa board member Dorah Mngwevu, will host a road running series that is specifically targeted at South Africa's athletics starved rural areas.


Founders of the FORTRESS REIT SERIES Morake and Mngwevu. Photo Credit: COlleen McNally.

"We identified a gap in rural areas where there is a lack of good sponsored athletics rural development events. It is to bridge the gap because most of exciting events are happening in big cities," said Morake in conversation with #TheTopRunner about the Fortress Running Series which kicks off in Rustenburg in the North West Province this Sunday.


Hailing from the small Eastern Cape Town of Sterkspruit himself, Morake understands all too well the difficult road that young athletes from the rural areas must travel in order to fully realise their athletic potential. For most of his time as a top runner which included victory at the 1992 Two Oceans Marathon in 3:15:56, Morake was based on Johannesburg's West Rand where did much of his training. Having reached the pinnacle of the sport by representing South Africa, the 64-year old is ready to give back by creating opportunities for athletes from the villages and hamlets of the country.

Morake running a CGA Cross Country League race in 2021. The 64-year old who is now based in the Eastern Cape is still fit and running hard. Photo Credit: Raymond Moeng.

"Athletes from rural areas are going to benefit with exposure to athletics. The race also doubles as an Athletics North West North Half Marathon Championship event. The route is certified and accredited by a qualified route measurer," he said of the 21,1km race on 15 May. There are also 10km and 5km on offer for participants to take on.


But as noble as Morake's vision is, it may have remained but a dream were it not for the involvement of a commercial partner. Fortress Reit which is a real estate investment trust that owns and manages commercial space in retail centres and malls, saw value in ISMO AC's proposal and agreed to partner with them. It means that in addition to the high quality race organisation standards that runners can expect out on the route, there will also be safe entertainment to enjoy at the race which is at the Rustenburg Plaza.


"We are going to have a spectacular race with lots of family entertainment for children, music, face painters, jumping castles as well as prize money for the 10km and

21.1km. Medals t-shirts, caps and goodie bags will also be available. We are thankful to FORTRESS REIT for sponsoring our rural development project," he concluded. The FORTRESS REIT SERIES takes place in Rustenburg, Eaton (Vaal) and Sterkspruit (Eastern Cape). Visit www.entrytime.co.za to enter.

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