The officials welcomed Mabuthane to the finish line and gave him a medal. Graeme says that the “Assegaai” is a marathon with heart, body and soul.
Graeme Holmes, treasurer of the Sunninghill Running Club says when he ran the TWK Assegaai Marathon on 20 February 2016, the race presented something else to him, something extraordinary and perhaps unique to the experience of marathon running in South Africa. Graeme speaks very well of the marathon saying that, although it was very hot and included tough hills, the scenery along the route is beautiful. He further calls it a proper marathon, well organised and an excellent qualifier for the Two Oceans and Comrades ultra-marathons. Well stocked and “viby” water points every two kilometres provide another plus and he is quite chuffed with finishing the race. The probably unique experience he speaks of made it all the more special … Young Mabuthane Sukazi, aged 17, was standing at the 12 km mark watching the runners pass and Graeme invited him to run with him, expecting him to jog along for a couple of kilometres at the most in his Bermuda shorts and “tired” moccasins.
Soon the two of them fell into a good rhythm and an easy silence. “He respected my need to walk at times and ran the rest of the marathon with me, 30 kilometres in moccasins!” Mabuthane was received at all the refreshment stations with just as much enthusiasm as other athletes and he enjoyed snacks like bananas and marshmallows. He drank the Coke and water sensibly but saved the sweets for the little children from his community. By the time they reached the “5 km to go” sign (after Mabuthane had run 25 kilometres), his breathing changed, he winced and their caught a cramp, but medals did not falter when he was called on to run.They finished in Buks van Heerden’s 5-hour bus. (A group of runners striving to finish within 5 hours, led by one experienced runner).
Graeme took Mabuthane back to his humble home in the forest and met his family where the little ones greeted them with wild smiles and shouting. Graeme says that this is a story about Mabuthane and the real South Africa. He appealed to friends to support Mabuthane who among other things, needed running shoes, and membership to the Assegaai Marathon Club and an entry for the 2017 event. The response was overwhelming and Mabuthane might well be seen on the road more often now. “By the way”, says Graeme, “diarise the 2017 TWK Assegaai Marathon. It’s a marathon well worth running and Piet Retief is a treat.”