This is the GBS Mountain Drive

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The GBS Mutual Bank Mountain Drive Half Marathon takes place this year in Grahamstown (Makhanda), on 25 August. In an all-Grahamstown collaboration, GBS Mutual Bank is the title sponsor for the race, which is hosted by the Rotary Club of Grahamstown Sunset.

Local clubs and the history of the race

The GBS Mutual Bank Mountain Drive Half Marathon will take place on 25 August. Celebrating the 2018 event’s launch this week are Saints & Sinners chairperson Jaco van Dyk, Rotary’s Viv Quin, GBS Mutual Bank Managing Director Anton Vorster and Rotary Chairperson Tim Dold. Photo: Sue Maclennan

The Albany Saints and Sinners multi-sport club has once again played a major role in the organisation and planning of the event, which is rich in history.

The club has been involved with hosting the event for over 10 years. For a number of years, Run/Walk for Life was the organiser, until the end of 2017, when the local Sunset Rotary club met with Albany Saints & Sinners and decided to continue this successful event in conjunction with this year’s generous main sponsor, GBS Mutual Bank.

Continuing on from the previous years’ highly successful events, the 2018 GBS Mutual Bank Mountain Drive Half Marathon could see it expand into a fun run and even add cycling in future.

Jaco van Dyk, chairperson of the Albany Saints & Sinners Multi-sport Club, said, “We want to enable the Grahamstown community to join us in a great local event that provides everyone with a great view of our town and our beautiful scenery. This year, the event will be hosted at Graeme College and we aim to provide a wonderful festive atmosphere for our community and visitors.”

“Historically, the Drostdy Harriers Running club hosted an event, the Salem half [marathon], which started at the Waainek Water treatment plant and ended at the Salem Sports Club. Drostdy Harriers closed down and the Albany Road Runners (ARR) continued hosting it for a couple of years,” said van Dyk.

Albany Road Runners then decided on a local race, also held in honour of Drostdy Harriers member Alistair Weakley and his brother Glen Weakley.

All 50 members of the Albany Saints & Sinners multi-sport club will be involved either as competitors, marshals, or performing other tasks on the day. In addition to the usual members, local superstars Basi Bonaparte, Lubabalo Bokuva, and Devernito du Plessis, all from the Albany Saints & Sinners club, will be participating.

Celebrities and other runners

Tsepiso Nzayo getting off the mark for the 2018 Comrades Marathon.
Photo: Supplied

Local celebrity Tsepiso Nzayo will be one of the pairs of feet completing the GBS Mutual Bank Mountain Drive Half Marathon. The entrepreneur who stuck his neck out to pioneer isiXhosa stand-up and a Grahamstown (Makhanda) comedy club, long before the Festival made stand-up comedy fashionable, is also a more than competent long-distance runner who recently completed the Comrades Marathon.

Tsepiso, as his fans know him, will be among the pack on the day of the GBS 21km.

“I am excited and also feeling nervous at the same time,” said Nzayo. “I am excited because people do acknowledge and trust me to associate their brand with me. I am nervous because, as a recreational runner, many people will be looking at me. All in all, I am ready for the challenge.”

“A half marathon is very fast compared to Comrades, so I will have to be very fast. I hope to improve my time of one hour and 25 minutes on that course [from last year].”

As Event Ambassador, Nzayo has engaged the organisers’ vision to bring Grahamstown together through sport and a family atmosphere. “It’s a good vision because sport does bring people together, and running is one of the sports where race and class don’t matter,” said Nzayo. “We are all the same on the road.”

Tracy van Aarde (left) and Grocott’s Mail’s own Kathryn Cleary will be tackling the GBS Mountain Drive half marathon this year.
Photo: Stephen Kisbey-Green

He said he started running in 2017. “I love running in Makhanda, that is why I take every opportunity I get when it arises. I don’t usually run in Makhanda. I love running in front of the people,” Nzyayo said.

However, a number of local runners will also be looking to take the stage on the day. Runners like Sally Price Smith, Nicole Craig, Tracy van Aarde and Grocott’s Mail’s own Kathryn Cleary will be running for their own reasons on the day.

Additionally, all 50 members of the Albany Saints & Sinners multi-sport club will be involved either as competitors, marshals, or performing other tasks on the day. In addition to the usual members, local superstars Basi Bonaparte, Lubabalo Bokuva, and Devernito du Plessis, all from the Albany Saints & Sinners club, will be participating.

Family Fun

This year’s 21km race across the mountain launches a vision to draw athletes back to the city with a must-do family oriented annual event. The Rotary Club of Grahamstown will join up with Round Table, and Mugg & Bean to provide the food, entertainment and activities for everyone to enjoy, whether they are running the race, or simply supporting this great family event.

The Club will be providing a healthy and hearty breakfast on the day, which is not only for runners. Additionally, a large lunch menu will be on offer for everyone to enjoy after the race.

Mugg & Bean will be providing free bottomless coffee to all runners throughout the day, and for those not participating, hot beverages and muffins will be on sale.

Round Table will be putting on all the entertainment and activities for family and friends of the runners, and are looking forward to providing a fun GBS Mountain Drive Half Marathon vibe. In addition to child care, which will allow both parents to run without worrying about their little ones, Round Table will be providing a number of games for children and adults alike, meaning that no one will be left out.

Going green

With the current global focus on protecting the environment, the GBS Mutual Bank Mountain Drive Half Marathon will do its part in reducing environmental impact on race day.

The Rotary Club of Grahamstown Sunset, has enlisted the help of a number of local businesses to ensure that the race is both an all-Grahamstown (Makhanda) enterprise, as well as a green event.

Oasis will donate water to fill up the water tables along the route, and runners will be able to fill up their own mugs and cups at these tables, in order to reduce the need for plastic water sachets. These sachets will be available to runners who do not have their own mugs and cups. They will be responsibly cleaned up after the race by a sweeper vehicle with a trailer that has been donated by Signs Unlimited.

Some local runners training in the early hours of the morning ahead of the GBS Mountain Drive. They will reap the rewards from their tough training on Saturday 25 August, at what is both an enjoyable and challenging race.
Photo: Sue Maclennan

In addition to these water sachets and the fill up tables, paper cups have been chosen to replace the usual polystyrene cups for the coke at each water table along the route, to ensure the most recyclable material is used.

Pick n Pay has sponsored goodie bags available to each participant. Each goodie bag will take the shape of reusable large canvas bags, instead of the usual single-use plastic bags, to ensure that runners can continue to use the bags after the race, for shopping and other storage and carry needs.

The organisers of the GBS Mountain Drive are committed to ensuring that this year’s event is not only a family-fun day, but also an environmentally responsible day. They endeavour to ensure that a small carbon footprint after the race.

How and where to register?

Registration is still open for the race online at bit.ly/GrocGBSMtnDrive21.

For those that are still deciding on whether or not to take part, registration will be open on Friday 24 August at at the Graemian Centre, Graham College from 18h00-20h00, and on the morning of the race, Saturday 25 August, from 06h30-07h45.

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Young and up-and-coming sports reporter with a passion for rugby and cricket. Born and raised in Boksburg, Gauteng, I came to Grahamstown (Makhanda) to learn the journalism trade, and improve all round.

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