My name is Anne Reynolds and I run in Johannesburg (now known as Gauteng) in South Africa. I have been an occasional runner all my life but have only been running seriously since October last year. Before then it was just the occasional race or two, and a couple of training runs each month.
I trained hard for the "Comrades marathon", which took place on 16 June 2000. It was around 87km long and was the longest race I've ever competed in. This year there were 24,505 runners taking part in the race. This is by far the largest race in South Africa. We normally have 11 hours to complete the race but because it was the year 2000 and the 75th edition of the race they extended the cut off time to 12 hours. On this race, and many other of the longer races, we get Coca Cola, water, Powerade and food along the route. The food we get includes potatoes, ice cream, chocolates, bananas, crisps, etc. The organizers believe that there is no way that a runner can be on the road for such a long time without needing food of some sort. This is particularly evident in the "Comrades marathon" as 90% of the runners complete the race in the last hour. Races here are very well organized and there is normally competition between the different water tables to see which one looks the best and has the best spirit, etc. Sometimes these water tables stretch for around 500 meters per station.
After the "Comrades marathon" I will concentrate on the shorter distances only, anything up to 21.1kms. I need to do this as I play ice hockey and the long distances use different muscles to what is needed for hockey.
We have around three races a week in summer and two a week in the winter that we can participate in. This also depends on the area you are living in. In the coastal areas there aren't as many runs as there are in the Johannesburg and Pretoria areas. Running is a very popular sport in South Africa and has become more popular this year because of the extra hour given to complete the "Comrades marathon". On average there is over 2,000 runners in a race. At the longer races, like the marathons and ultramarathons, you can expect to see fields of 4,000 or more runners. It is great to run with so many people as you are always in a group and never alone. In the last few months I have made many friends on the road and we see each other at races all the time.
I run for a club called Dosco Ets Gijimas. We currently have around 170 members. The larger clubs have membership of over 500 runners at a time. I prefer to run in a smaller club though as you get to know your fellow members better and there is a lot of spirit within the club. The club holds club runs at least twice a month where you can do distances from 4km to around 32km in a morning.
My brother is the main reason that I am running. He has been competing in races for the last 13 years and has completed 50 standard marathons (42.195km) and will be completing his 100th race of 42.195km or more in September this year.
Running in South Africa is a very accepted activity. In the mornings when I train I always come across other people training too. Runners here are very friendly and greet you whenever you pass one.
Running conditions are great but it can get a little hot in the summer months and cold in winter. In general I love running here and think we have the best country to run in. We have the beautiful Cape where the "Two Oceans marathon" (56km) is run. We have races in the mountains, through the towns, along the coastal areas and many other places. It is a must for any runner to compete in a least one major race in South Africa.
Run The Planet would like to thank Anne Reynolds from South Africa for taking part in the Planeteer Spotlight.