On the 17th of July, 2022, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and its partners Discovery Vitality, Vision Tactical, ABSA, Brand SA, Indwe Risk, Virgin Active Old Eds, Power FM, Futurelife & Ticketpro hosted the inaugural 8km Mandela Run in Houghton, in honour of the global icon, Nelson Mandela. The race began at Virgin Active, Old Eds, and followed the route Nelson Mandela walked for exercise when he lived in Houghton, and went past Sanctuary Mandela, the boutique hotel that was once Madiba’s home after returning from prison, as well as the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Madiba’s post-presidential office after stepping down as President of the country. My family and I decided to attend the run and walk.
Even before the crack of dawn, runners and walkers began arriving to pick up their race numbers, assess the route and warm up. Not only did professional and amateur runners attend, but many families also came prepared with their baby strollers, hats and fruit for the road. You could spot a few couples that attended the race as a date too.
Walking through the leafy suburb of Houghton, I reflected on Sunday drives with my mother when I was very young, where we would look at all the trees and beautiful houses and dream about what it might be like to live there. We even went into a few Open Houses, unannounced, and looked at how white people lived. Their large gardens and spacious kitchens, their pools and even some with tennis courts.
Things have changed since those days, of course, but not nearly enough. As we walked through the route, it occurred to me how very many different kinds of people there were here, and it felt like belonging. We supported each other on the steep inclines, held hands with grannies who needed their hands held and smiled at children describing how awful the whole ordeal was.
It was a real treat catching up with globally acclaimed musicians and vanguards of South African culture, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who all wore black, long-sleeved t-shirts with Madiba’s face on them. They were walking and cheering, greeting people and enjoying the atmosphere. It was lovely getting to greet them and walk this route that Madiba once walked with them.
Tshepiso Khati won the men’s race with a time of 26:46 and Mpho Sebalo won the women’s race with 39:33 time. My aunt and I took two hours.
My family and I can’t wait for the next one!