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  • Two South African greats, the Mr Price Foundation and Comrades Marathon have joined forces to raise funds to empower South African youth
  • The inaugural Mr Price Foundation Challenge, a virtual run/ride for 2020 will take place on December 5 and 6
  • The Mr Price Foundation helps break the cycle of poverty and inequality through its education and skills development programmes

The Mr Price Foundation has launched a brand new event; The Mr Price Foundation Challenge, in partnership with the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA).

Set to take place on December 5 and 6, the virtual fundraising event will be open to participants of all ages and fitness levels, to cycle or run to raise funds and awareness for the Mr Price Foundation.

The exciting announcement of the fundraiser’s new partner, the Comrades Marathon Association, has brought a new element to the event, which was previously a 606km cycle ride from Secunda to Durban.

Now, both sporting enthusiasts and ordinary people have an opportunity to cycle or run in a virtual challenge, opening up the ‘field’ to participants from across the globe. 

For cyclists, the 11th edition of the epic fundraising event will have a wide variety of options for both amateur and professional cyclists with distances ranging from 10km, 45km, 90km, 303km and 606km. Historically, the event was only open to less than 100 elite cyclists but this edition presents the possibility of thousands of cyclists of all ages from around the world participating.

The Challenge also offers runners the opportunity to complete 3km, 7km or 21km, making it a fun family event. Participants can opt to do both the run and the ride.

“We are pleased to be involved with the Mr Price Foundation Challenge. It’s decade-long history and social upliftment footprint is worth celebrating. As the Comrades Marathon Association, we look forward to doing more great things with the Foundation and to further our contribution to the social and environmental landscape through such admirable initiatives,” said CMA General Manager, Keletso Totlhanyo.

The previous ‘Ride with Purpose’ has been the Mr Price Foundation’s biggest annual fundraiser to help the NGO break the cycle of poverty and inequality among the youth of South Africa. Mr Price Foundation has helped to empower thousands of young South Africans through its high-impact education and skills development programmes. 

The Foundation’s holistic schools programme is currently implemented in 98 primary schools in KwaZulu-Natal (Hammarsdale and Tongaat), QwaQwa, Soweto and Mitchell’s Plain, positively impacting over 64,000 learners daily. 

Jump Start, the Foundation’s skills development programme, is a work readiness programme that trains unemployed young people and links them to career opportunities in the retail sector and supply chain. It bridges the gap between school and the world of work by providing candidates with life skills and experiential training to help them enter the job market better prepared.

Karen Wells, Head of the Mr Price Foundation said, “While 2020 has been an extremely challenging year, it has also opened up a world of infinite possibilities, like making this a global virtual event. We are thrilled to be partnering with one of the country’s oldest sporting organisations and events to take the Challenge to a new level, and hopefully raise more funds and awareness for the upliftment of our youth!” 

Wells added, “The great thing about this year's inaugural virtual event is that every participant will receive a coveted Mr Price Foundation Challenge medal. We look forward to making this a fun and memorable event."

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Comrades Marathon Up Run champion and record holder Gerda Steyn came agonisingly close to breaking the South African marathon record when she finished seventh at the 50th London Marathon at the beginning of October.

 

Steyn completed the elites only race in a Personal Best Time of 2:26:51, just 16 seconds short of Coleen De Reuck's 2:26:35.   

 

Though disappointed at not having broken the record, Steyn was nevertheless delighted with her fantastic run on the looped course around London's St James's Park in difficult wet and cold weather conditions.

She spoke to Comrades Marathon 2018 and 2019 Top Journalist Matshelane Mamabolo immediately after her race.

MM: Gerda you had a fantastic run today.

You must be super chuffed. Please share with me what it felt like crossing that finish line.

 

GS: Thank you Jakes. Crossing the finishing line at the London Marathon for the first time was a great experience. It was a real dream come true for me. The finish line was a great sight even though I'd gone past it about 19 or 20 times but crossing it at the end of the race was really special. It definitely made me want to run the traditional London Marathon in the near future.

 

MM:You ran your PB, that must have been a delight.

 

GS: Yes, I ran a PB and it was definitely a great delight. I'm very pleased and honoured to have run PB’s in all the distances from 5km, 10km, half marathon and now the marathon. And in a difficult year like 2020, I don't think I can be ungrateful for that. I am very, very happy that I was able to run my best time in the marathon.

 

MM: The weather conditions were pretty rough. How hard did that make your run?

 

GS: Yes, the conditions were not perfect at all. All weekend it was stormy and raining so we kind of knew what to expect. It was far from perfect but to be honest in a marathon with weather conditions like that I should always have an advantage. It was an advantage because I can withstand such conditions and keep on going whereas the world's best and fastest marathoners lining up are used to training in better conditions. So when I looked out the window as we left for the start and saw it pouring I just told myself to focus on placing high. And it actually turned out like that.if course the weather made for a tough run because the road was soaking wet so it was harder but not impossible. At the end I was delighted with the entire experience.

 

MM: Running a marathon in those loops must have taken some getting used to. Tell me about that experience.

 

GS: This was the first time I ran a marathon or any race in small loops so yes it was something to get used to. But I had incorporated it into my training by doing short loops during my tempo run so I could get mentally used to going past one spot over and over. The corners at the race didn't bother me much though. I had to try cut the corners because it's important to run the shortest line as it was easy to make the long turns and end up running too long. I think this kind of runs could work going forward in that it could make it easy to have bigger crowds for the races after Covid.

MM: Late in the race, Brigid Kosgei bumped you when she overtook. Your reaction was one of shock and a bit of anger even it seemed. Tell me about that incident. 

 

GS: Yes you are right, Brigid Kosgei came past me in the last lap for her just before she turned to the finish and we bumped into each other. I really didn't see her or expect her to go past. It was just a little bump of the arms. My reaction was more of shock than anger. I was just shocked to see someone go past me that close because I was in the moment, in my zone and was not expecting that. Luckily it was not too bad because none of us stumbled or fell.

 

MM: When, during the race, did you know you were going to run a PB and when did you realise the national record was out of reach?

 

GS: They had big, digital LED screens on which you could see what your predicted finish time is. You could even see where you were positioned in the field and how many laps you still had to run. So I was very much aware of what my finish time would be more or less. In the beginning of the race my finish time was below 2:25 at a certain point and that was when I was still running in a pack and we were helping each other. It was a fiery start, we ran at a fast pace but later on I did slow down to a point when I knew that the marathon record would be a matter of seconds whether I get it or not. I was thinking I could still speed up on the last two laps to make up for the time I lost but also I knew that my PB was still going to be broken and that it would take a massive blow up for that not to happen. I would almost had to be jogging for me not to get a PB. At that time I just did not want to be overtaken because I wanted to maintain the seventh position that I was in. I tried to speed up for the record but it didn't work out. It was just a near miss and that's how the sport goes. I know my form and I know that on a different time in a different race and different conditions I will go for it again.

 

MM: You have now had two great runs at Major Marathons. What is your next big goal?

 

GS: Of course I have done New York twice and now London. My next goal for the near future? Well, everything is uncertain now so it is hard to plan for anything. Even race dates almost change on a monthly basis. At the moment we have no idea really what's going to happen. But of course 2021 is the Olympic year and I am looking forward to that. In the near future I have to focus on first going back to recovering and then start from scratch. I have to work myself back up from the shorter distances. I will get the speed back in the legs and get ready for fast races in shorter distances first and eventually work my way up into the marathons. I am really looking forward to the Olympics because it will be my first time and I am sure a great experience participating in such a huge event.


 

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