The Coach's Take On 2018 And What To Expect Going Forward
Greetings to the running community, followers, supporters, sponsors and stakeholders of our lovely sport.
Let me start by giving special THANK YOU to our sponsors at the Hendrick Ramaala Sports Foundation: Nike, NN Running Team, Fournos, Impala Fruit & Veg, Impala Meat and 32Gi. It was a rocky start but your support got us going. I would also like to thank my wife Rodica for her tireless effort and support to the foundation. Rodica makes sure that our runners are physically sound, injury-free and maintains a good relationship with our nutritional sponsors.
We opened and closed the year on a high with Desmond winning the the Beppu-Oita marathon in Japan in February, and Precious posting SA leading 21k time for the year at the Bolougne-Billancourt half in France. I would actually like to write more about Des' win as it had a lot in common with my famous 2005 2nd place finish to Paul Tergat in New York. What made Des' race a tough ask other than the short notice to participate was the cold conditions. You've got to give it to the kid, he's got balls. Marathon running is a real test of character.
When we started the foundation, the aim was to identify and groom running talent in the country. That mission is being accomplished in such a way that we are attracting International attention. The NN Running Team in the Netherlands has assisted our runners to participate in world-class events across the globe. We also received visits from east-African countries where their runners spent time with us preparing for competition. Mande Bushendich and Filmon Ande dominated the FNB Joburg 10k and went on to run 27:24 (Madrid) and 27:57 (Paris) respectively at the end of December. That is the calibre of runners the camp has managed to attract. We are now an important part of the NN global running team.
We expect nothing other than better in 2019. We will continue using the cross-country as build up to try and get a few of our guys to qualify for DOHA. The boys (we will soon get girls) are geared for the challenge. Cutman will give DOHA a short and we definitely want Des to qualify for the marathon as this will set him up for 2020 olympics - our main focus. He did us proud in London 2017 by achieving a gold label standard under tough conditions.
Max and Precious also demonstrated that our foundation wants to be a big part of the South African squad, especially come 2020, by representing the country at the continental cross-country champs and world 21k champs. We are hoping to have a few our runners in the 2020 Olympics squad. This is now loud and clear, we are preparing for the 2020 Olympics!
We are nothing without sponsors and we highly appreciate the support we have now. We are working tirelessly to maintain our relationship with them. We invite and call-out for more support from the corporate world. Please click here to see what our runners have managed to achieve with the little we have now.
Our runners lowered their times significantly in 2018. Running personal bests and leading times. Cutman dominated the local scene. He has a streak of wins on the cross, 10k and 21k distances. Despite him losing his mother earlier in the year (may her soul rest in peace), the kid came out of mourning firing on all cylinders. He is proof that running can support families. Precious' dedication is unquestionable.
We have also shown that we take ultramarathon running seriously as it is a big culture in our country. Raphael Sekgodi finished 6th on his OMTOM debut and is looking forward to a better race in 2019. A few people have noticed that we are cooking a future Comrades champion in Motsamai Rantho who has improved significantly since taking running seriously and training with us on full-time basis. He ran a 2-hour PB of 6:23 at his 2nd down run. Pharsons Magagane had a good debut at the marathon with 47 seconds shy to dipping under 2:20 in Cape Town. These three runners all have full-times jobs, are married and have children.
I am happy to see how the group has come together to operate like a true family. Who said running was an individual sport?
We expect to make some big announcements in 2019 with changes that will take the foundation to greater heights. Please keep an eye on our Facebook page, this website and Instagram.
I again would like to send a shout-out to all potential sponsors to know that their help is welcome. No help is small help.
It is going to be a great year for the runners.
Cheers for now,