Running the ‘Comrades Marathon’ for Sosebenza Youth Centre

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Elize Taylor, MASICORP’s Finance Director has been heavily involved in setting out the tasks necessary to improve Masiphumelele’s Sosebenza Youth Centre this year. That’s why she’ll be running in the ‘Comrades Marathon’ on Sunday 2nd June.

The ‘Comrades Marathon’ is a 54 mile / 86.96km race between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban. It is a memorial to the soldiers of the Great War. Its founder, Vic Clapham, was born in London in 1886. He emigrated as a youth to the Cape Colony in South Africa and worked as an ambulance man and engine driver during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). In World War I he joined the 8th South African Infantry. At the end of the war, he asked the League of Comrades of the Great War (the WWI veterans association) if he could stage a race as a memorial to his fallen comrades. At first the League was not interested in Clapham’s idea, but he persisted maintaining that if a sedentary living person could be taken off the street given a rifle and 60lb pack and marched all over Africa then surely a fit and able athlete could complete the distance. After refusing for two years, the League finally relented and the first race was run on 24th May, 1921, starting in Pietermaritzburg. There were just 34 runners. The race has been run every year since then, apart from the war years 1941-1945. Its direction alternates each year – starting at either Pietermaritzburg or Durban, the so-called ‘up & down’ runs.

Elize was a runner at school but took a 20 year break. When she first watched this magnificent race she mentioned that I would like to participate, but was told that, at age 38, there is no way that she would succeed. So she started training! She has since managed to complete three Comrades marathons and in 2010 she ran to raise funds for the Ukhanyo Sports Field. That year, 16459 runners began the race but only 14,596 finished. Take a look at the terrain (see the attached link) and you can see why.

http://www.comrades.com/Route/Route-Map.aspx

When MASICORP built the Sosebenza youth centre in 2001, 41 unemployed young adults gave 705 hours of their time to help build it.  It was given to the community by MASICORP’s founders, John and Carol Thompson, for skills training and youth activities.

In 2013 the plan is to reorganise the site so that its facilities are more secure. We’ll then be able to provide computer and graphic design training there (working with our partner NGO African Renewal), and extend some of the programmes we currently run in Masiphumelele Library (the Homework Club, and Maths and English tuition).

Teens are a neglected age group and they need a safe place within Masiphumelele where they can discuss issues such as Drug and Alcohol abuse etc. (Parents also need to be taught to look out for the signs of these problems.)  After 10 years, Sosebenza needs an upgrade – not just in order to provide skills training but also so it can provide dance, drama, painting, drawing, photography and other youth group activities!

Step 1: Build a wall!

If you’d like to help, click here  – and type ‘Elize’ in the ‘Is this for a special project?’ box when you make your donation.