South African Race Walking has seen a resurgence since Marc Mundell reintroduced South Africa to the International Race Walking scene at the London Olympics in 2012. This year, however, we saw four walkers making SA proud in Rio. Marc Mundell reached his second Olympics Games, Lebogang Shange made serious waves at International events, Wayne Snyman trained with some of the most popular walkers on the scene and Anel Oosthuizen showed us that hard work and perseverance really pays off.
Walkers from across the country undertake an annual migration to the SA 50km & Interprovincial Championships, a championship that Oudtshoorn played host to since the early 2000’s. In 2011, however, Cape Town was handed the baton and has been hosting the event with much success.
This event is known for its festive atmosphere and competitive spirit where provinces walk their heart out to be crowned Inter-Provincial Champions. Walkers from all ages line up in distances ranging from the tough and serious 50km to the energetic and fun 1km development race. Walkers like Anel Oosthuizen and Lebogang Shange got their first real competitive test at these Championships and 2016 will be no different with a large number of youth and junior walkers from all access the country having entered. Who knows, 10 years from now someone will write a similar article about one of the walkers getting their introduction to competitive walking at this year’s championships! And, being motivated by their Olympian piers, SA’s best and emerging senior walkers have all entered.
The stage is also set for SA’s best master athletes: Barbara Nell, Chris Britz and Jurgen Spencer are regular participants and will again grace us with their legendary presence. That being said, numerous SAMA walkers will also line up against each other in their respective categories, guaranteeing a day of exciting racing.
Hosting Province, Western Province Athletics (WPA), has been doing an exceptional job with hosting the event since 2011 and have elevated its status as a must do on the calendar for all serious walkers. Initiatives such as trophies that can be taken home by provinces and individuals, special designed event medals for winners and the newly introduced 1km development event for any little walker keen to take up the atmosphere are just a few value adding aspects of the event. The frequently talked about festival atmosphere is created by the aid of a lively event MC on the route and by the playing of the latest and some golden hits by the event DJ in the background. Live results and updates keep the crowd and athletes on their toes (hopefully no lifting).
Youngsfield has also been established as one of SA’s most popular race walking routes; a route where numerous records and PB’s have been set through-out the years. The venue is also safe, free of traffic and great for spectators who wish to enjoy the event in the shade of a tree.
Let’s see what this year will deliver. A new start may be born, records may fall, PB’s will be set and memories will be made. Come and join us for what will be a very successful championships.
Written by Pieter Vorster
Race Director/ WPARWC Chairman
Photo by Stefano Aracena