As the sun peaked with its shining rays, so did thousands gather in celebration of the second annual Nelson Mandela Challenge in the glorious majesty of our nation’s capital Tshwane.
The foot races were broken up into a 5 km fun walk, representing the years Mandela spent serving as a president. A 9.4 km run for 1994, the year of his inauguration as president. Then there was the 27 km run, for the years he spent in prison, and also a 67 km cycling race, for the years he spent in selfless service of his community.
Joel Mmone took the 9.4 km in 31 min while the bear footed Lebo Phalula extended her dominance of the 10 km women’s field in 2014 as she crossed the finish line at a leisurely pace f 35 min 42 sec.
SA Olympian Ashley Moolman took the woman’s cycling race. But such was the greatness of the occasion that Riaan Jv Rensberg who took the men’s race in a nail biting finish against Hanco Kachelhoffer, used the opportunity to dedicate his win to his girlfriend who underwent a kidney transplant just yesterday.
It was the men’s 27 km final stretch that rounded off an already this exciting day of athletics. The leading bunch, was made up just the podium placers, kicked up their pace as they flew past the Union Buildings at their shoulder. Buy the time they got downhill on Edmond Street turning into Hamilton Street, Elroy Galant’s 1500m pedigree made all the difference. As he kicked off to conquer the last km in sprint Dumisani Mokgoro could only hang on for second place. This being his third podium finish this month alone Elroy Galant shrugged off all impression of him “over-racing” as mere anecdotes.
The rest of the day was fittingly finished off with participants dancing their stiff muscles pains away. As proceeding were handed over to the Department of Arts and Culture as they unveiled their line-up of 67 artists performing on the gigantic stage overlooking the well manicured lawns of the Union Buildings.