Fit2Run School & Business relay

6 March 2013

Fit2Run School & Business Relay 2013

UWC Mixed Relay Team Fit2Run Race # 94

Author: Tarminder Kaur

I came to know about ‘Fit2Run’ during my research field work at the wine farms in and around Worcester. Apart from joining in on occasional training run with Fit2Run athletes, I somehow became a concerned member of Fit2Run, following up on their activities and ‘ups and downs’ over the last year. Fit2Run is a sport-for-development organisation (Club and NGO) that uses road running and athletics as a means to help talented young athletes from underprivileged backgrounds with better sporting and life opportunities. Not only that I found their running (style, speed and achievements) and personal stories inspiring, the way the organisation is so interwoven into the community and community relations is also very interesting. Fit2Run coaches, all of whom are volunteers with full-time jobs elsewhere, have managed to normalise sports training into the lives of their athletes; as if running and nurturing athletic talent is part and parcel of their community life. The organisation is clearly from the community and for the community and so is microcosm of the community within which it exists – with all the complexes, compromises, conditions and achievements. And yet, Fit2Run have had some major organisational set-backs over the year (2012). It is particularly a sad story, given that in a free and democratic country an organisation has to struggle over their existence and right to association, especially when they are working with particularly marginalised group of young people. The issues that Fit2Run have been dealing with are largely political in nature and these not only limit the extent to which they can expand their athlete base but also bring the morale of their volunteer members down.

Despite this roller-coaster of a year, the team Fit2Run pulled through a fantastic event – Fit2Run School & Business Relay 2013 – on Wednesday the 6th March 2013. On the day of the event, organising team was out at six in the morning at the Worcester town’s High Street to set up for the event was to start at three in the afternoon. Primary Schools’ relay was first followed by High Schools and Business relay at six in the evening. The concept of the event was interesting and offered a nice balance of competition and community participation and fun. The participating runners were to occupy the high street while spectators sat on the steps of the Town Hall. I had also entered a mixed team, sponsored by my centre ICESSD (Interdisciplinary Centre of Excellence for Sport Science and Development) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). Although we were known as team UWC, our team was mixed in more than one sense. The team consisted of three international students (American, German and Indian) – all affiliated at the University and three kids from the local farms, where I have been conducting research field work. The team had three male and three female runners. Farm children were generally shy and seemed like they were unsure about how to relate with these foreigners other than just pass the baton on to the right one at the right time. We may not have connected at a personal level, but when I asked them if they would run with us next year, the spontaneity and enthusiasm of the affirmative response said it all.

As for Fit2Run, I would like to thank them for creating this opportunity for us to cross the cultural and class boundaries over the event. The event was humble and welcoming and catered for all abilities. It created a fun and relaxed environment and gave everyone a reason to celebrate the mid-week evening. This gets to show how a simple and economical sport like road running has much potential – yet prerequisite of harnessing this potential is willingness and commitment of people to come out on to the roads, claim them, join in, run and keep passing the baton along for many years to come.

Here are some of the comments from rest of the ‘team UWC’:

One Day in Worcester – The Fit2Run Relay Race
Being in Worcester is amazing itself – but participating in such a great organised race is even more amazing. Our team was made up of 3 South African farm kids, one American, one Indian and me, and despite some language difficulties everyone was enjoying running in one team and spending time together. Jason, Chesswill and Junelle (the farm kids) were very fast, although there were running bare-feet (like many other participants). While I was kind of nervous how the relay change would take place, everything went smooth. We even did second in the league “professional team”, which was just a surplus to the throughout awesome day!

– Marie Biermann (UWC)

On Wednesday, 6 March I participated in the Fit2Run School and Business Relay in Worcester. Our team, representing the University of the Western Cape, met for the first time shortly before the race. Differences in culture and class made it difficult for us to communicate as a group before the race began, but the race itself provided a common language. I cannot say that I got to know the two farmworker youth who ran on our team, but we could all connect through the race’s simple grammar (Run fast!). And as we waited for the announcement of results with music playing and dusk falling, it appeared from our body language that we were all were glad to be there. I certainly was.

– Christian A Williams (UWC)

The Wednesday when we were with Tarminder on the race, I enjoyed it very much because I’ve never run a Fit-2-Run Race. I was a little bit nervous. I would like to go again because it was very nice and cool there. I enjoyed that race very much. The evening when it was time to come home, I could not get the feeling of coming home because I enjoyed it and would have liked to stay there.

– Junelle Cupido

Die Fit-2-Run Race wat ek en Junelle bygewoon het, was baie lekker vir my en die aand was spesiaal gewees. Ek het vriende gemaak met ander kinders wat ook deelgeneem het. Die aflos was baie lekker en die pad was nie te lank of te kort nie. …. Ek het ook die pizza geniet en die boeke wat ek gelees het.

– Chesswill Beukes