PRIDE MATHEBULE AND KALEN KROESE
On Friday, 21 August at 09:00, the Bestmed-athlete, Niel Thiart, commenced his mission to run until
Sunday, 23 August 09:00. Thiart managed to run nonstop for two days around the Tuks Athletics track. The Bestmed-athlete ran a total of 239km in 48 hours to raise awareness for autism and raise funds for the Els for Autism Foundation. During the 48 hours, he slept just under 90 minutes. On Saturday, after running approximately 150 km, his left foot was so badly swollen that he needed treatment before continuing – and decided to try running without shoes. The heat of the day and the cold chill at night could not hinder the aims of Thiart as his friends kept him company along the Tuks Athletics track throughout his 48 hour run. Since Thiart is an ultra distance runner who runs for charity, this is not the first, or last, run of this kind of distance. He is already contemplating a run from Pretoria to Durban or from Pretoria to Cape Town. He is even considering another run on the Tuks Athletics track again for 48 hours. Thiart said that he is, “prepared to do anything if it means I can create awareness for autism, but my run was more than that. All of us have particular talents, I believe it is essential to use one’s skills for the betterment of society. I can only hope that my efforts have inspired a few people.”
Thiart continues to say that he last ran on the track when he was 16 years old, which was 33 years ago for him. He finds track running more challenging than road running because when you are on the road, downhills allow for you to get a small breather in, while on the track, your muscles need to work hard consistently. Thiart was joined by the well-known sports psychologist, Dr Henning Gericke, who was instrumental in helping the Springboks win the World Cup in 2007. Gericke also took some time off to run with Thiart and he admitted afterwards that he was inspired by the Bestmed-athlete’s courage and determination.The Deputy Director of TuksSport, Lydia Monyepao, praised Bestmed for its efforts to create awareness for autism and said that “running 48 hours nonstop is an achievement which many do not realise”. Monyepao continues, “from the TuksSports perspective, it has been an honour to support Niel Thiart in his quest. During the past 48 hours, he proved what guts and determination are about.” Thiart continues to be courageous and does not plan to slow down. The following Monday, he returned to his day job in Menlyn as a car salesman.
Illustration: Cassandra Eardley