21 February saw UP host the annual BestMed TuksRace which had thousands of participants. As one of the largest road running events in Gauteng, the Bestmed TuksRace is open to everyone and has grown to attract some of the best athletes from South Africa and other African countries, as well as social runners and wheelchair athletes. The event started at 06:00 as participants began and concluded their journey at the LC De Villiers sports ground. The events included a 21.1km, 10km and 5km race, as well as a 1km open race and a wheelchair race.
The BestMed TuksRace, which places emphasis on cancer awareness and the general wellbeing of individuals by encouraging a healthy lifestyle, was also attended by the university’s vice-chancellor, Prof. Cheryl de la Rey. Prof. de la Rey participated in the race bound to Dries La Grange, CEO of BestMed, in a visual representation of “breaking bad habits”.
The race was well attended by professional runners, many of whom use the race as preparation for larger events such as the Comrades marathon. However, for many this was a community and family affair, giving them the opportunity to run with some of their favorite athletes in a relaxed and enjoyable manner. Zipho Tshapela, a third-year social work student who was working at the event, said, “It was an amazing experience. I enjoyed seeing little children running and taking part with their parents and siblings.”
Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation Gert Oosthuizen and La Grange marked the beginning of the event at the podium, which was followed by the handover of a certificate to Stein Steinbach, CEO of Run-a-Way Sports, for his long-standing service to the running community of North Gauteng.
The 21.1km race was the first to begin followed by the wheelchair race officiated by Prof. Antonie de Klerk of UP. The 10km and 5km proceeded thereafter, with the 1km the last to start at 08:00. This was then followed by the prizegiving where Tuks was well represented among professional squads such as Nedbank, Transnet and Maxed Elite.
TuksAthletics hosted and helped organise the event, which served as exposure for the TuksAthletes club to experience racing at a professional level. Danie Cornelius, a TuksAthletics representative, said of the event. “The race of 2015 was one of the best races ever according to feedback from participants. We also had more than 9000 participants, indicating the growing popularity amongst the road running fraternity, making it one of the biggest races in Pretoria.”
Monique van Hattum and Olivia Odendaal showing off their medals. Photo: Catherine San Martin