Catching Up With Our Trail Runner – Elize Taylor

For Masicorp volunteer Elize Taylor the last week has been spent far out of her comfort zone in the wilderness of the Richtersveld on behalf of the young sports stars at Ukhanyo Primary School in Masiphumelele. At the start of the year Elize set herself the target of completing three trail runs to raise funds for a sports field project managed by local NGO, Masicorp. After completing a number of long distance running events in recent years, including the Comrades Marathon on a number of occasions, she started the year by completing the African X event in nearby Elgin. She will finish the year by completing the Wildrun in the Eastern Cape, but last week’s transfrontier trail in South Africa and Namibia was always going to be the main challenge.

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The distance was daunting enough – 200 km in five days – but it was the terrain and elevation that were her main challenges. Elize admits she is not technically skilled and has a fear of heights. Therefore the scaling of several rocky outcrops and small to medium sized mountains was a big challenge. In fact, it was often coming down that was the main problem, with a minor fall on day one not stopping her from continuing.

The course was real wilderness, with GPS and maps needed to ensure Elize and her running partner stayed on the trail and made it to camp before dark. It was often a case of following trails left by goat herders, although they often simply disappeared into the shifting sands. On the Namibian side of the border the runners made use of the tracks left by herds of zebra to cross the rocky desert. Often she had to run with sand impacted in her socks and running shoes as there was simply no time to stop and clear them out. There were some scary moments along the way. When crossing a dry river bed in Namibia, a lone Kudu bull that had been startled by the runners suddenly charged past them, passing just ten meters from Elize and her partner.

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Elize is aiming to raise ZAR 25,000 to complete the construction of an all-weather sports surface at Ukhanyo School in a project that was begun by Masicorp late last year. It was the fact that she had already received many donations that kept her focused and committed to complete he trail. She is honest enough to admit there was a fair amount of fear too, given the wild terrain and absence of any farms or towns to retreat too.

As a fairly strong runner at a young age, Elize has had a passion to develop sports facilities at Ukhano School for some time. Masicorp has an excellent relationship with Ukhanyo Primary School, which takes all 1,600 of the township’s children aged 6 to 14. With Masicorp’s assistance the school has developed teaching facilities that are a benchmark for township schools, but their sports facilities remain limited. She recognizes the qualities that competitive sport can bring to a child’s development, including self-discipline, compassion, perseverance, team-work and health benefits. These are skills that cannot be taught in the classroom. With the right facilities. Elize can see youngsters from Masi eventually making the Western Province sports teams and seeing parts of the country they would otherwise never visit. Sport provides opportunities to meet other communities and cultures and is an excellent way of keeping youngsters motivated and out of trouble in their developing years.

With her final trail run still to come Elize is still seeking funds toward her target of ZAR 25,000. If you can help please make a donation to her via her fundraising page HERE.

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