Brave­hearts to take on ‘mon­ster’

Go! & Express - - Classifieds - ETHIENNE ARENDS

THE ELB Washie 100-miler “road to hell” turns 40 this year, a huge achieve­ment for an idea that be­gan over beers at the pub.

Lionel Whit­field wanted to hon­our his fa­ther, nick­named Washie, and that is how the race came about.

For the 40th year, Mar­ion Kelly, the grand­daugh­ter of Washie him­self, will start the race at 5pm at the Hal­yards Ho­tel in Port Al­fred af­ter the tra­di­tional High­way to Hell by rock band AC/DC is played to put some fear into the al­ready ner­vous run­ners.

The GO! & Ex­press are the me­dia spon­sors of the event for the sec­ond year in suc­ces­sion.

This year, the field ex­ceeds 80 run­ners who will be at the mercy of dark­ness, cold, and even lone­li­ness, and will be count­ing on their fit­ness, men­tal tough­ness and their sec­onds (peo­ple help­ing run­ners on the road) to get them through the gru­elling 160km from Port Al­fred to East Lon­don.

The ath­letes range in age from their early 20s through to their 60s, each adamant they will con­quer the goal they have set for them­selves.

Many ath­letes find out about this race through word-of-mouth from other ath­letes who use the Comrades Marathon as a train­ing run, and then put the Washie on their “bucket list” a year or two later.

En­trants this year in­clude a hus­band-and­wife team, a fa­ther-and-son team, in­ter­na­tional ath­letes and those who are rais­ing funds for their favourite charity – mak­ing up “quite a fun and quirky bunch,” or­gan­is­ers said.

Eric Wright, 61, and Butch Duf­fey will be com­ing back for their 26th Washie fin­ish – that is a lot of mileage.

The fa­ther-and-son pair of 64-year-old Cyril Bekker, the old- est Washie run­ner this year, and son Des­mond Bekker, 41, also have some mileage be­tween them.

Cyril, who will be run­ning in the colours of Gonu­bie Har­ri­ers, has done 17 Comrades and 14 Two Oceans Marathons and ran his only Washie 23 years ago, while son, Des­mond, runs for city ri­vals Buf­falo City Metro Ath­let­ics Club and has three Comrades and three Two Oceans fin­ish­ers be­hind his name.

“We are also avid ul­tra-trail run­ners. Des­mond did three Hob­bit 100km runs in Hogs­back and twice did the Wild Coast Ul­tra 270km, six-day race from Port St John’s to Na­hoon, and to­gether we have done nu­mer­ous road ul­tras from the Bru­in­tjieshoogte 50km to the Le­gends 68km,” Cyril said.

Buffs le­gend Duf­fey said he was only re­turn­ing this year be­cause he heard his old ad­ver­sary, Wright, was com­ing to do his 26th Washie.

“I heard Eric Wright was com­ing to do his 26th Washie and couldn’t let him beat me be­cause we are both on 25 Washies.

“I al­ways wanted to achieve 25 Washie fin­ishes, es­pe­cially as a Buffs run­ner in our own event, so I achieved that last year and was done. But I had to re­turn to equal Wright,” Duf­fey said.

The Washie le­gend had some ad­vice for the first-timers too, say­ing that fit­ness alone won’t cut it in this event.

“You can be how fit, if you don’t have heart and grit to fight it out then you will never fin­ish ‘the mon­ster’. This is not the Comrades or Two Oceans, it’s ‘the mon­ster’,” Duf­fey said.

The sec­ond­ing crew is of ut­most im­por­tance to run­ners, keep­ing them safe, mo­ti­vated, fed and nour­ished, cor­rectly dressed and pro­vid­ing med­i­cal treat­ment if nec­es­sary.

The first run­ner is due at the Buffs Club in East Lon­don at about 7.30am on Satur­day.

Keep up­dated with live feeds on www.track­ing.washie100miler.co.za

The Buffs Club will be open all day for spec­ta­tors to en­joy a meal and some liq­uid re­fresh­ment, and watch these amaz­ing men and women as they cross the fin­ish line. — Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by GO cor­re­spon­dent

‘Eric Wright and Butch Duf­fey will be com­ing back for their 26th Washie’

Pic­ture: ETHIENNE ARENDS

STEEL GRIT: Gabriel Kriel from Born 2 Run East Lon­don makes it up the fi­nal stretch to the fin­ish at Buf­falo Park dur­ing last year’s Washie 100-miler last year. His sec­ond (helper), Izak Kruger, in white, helps mo­ti­vate him to keep go­ing to the end of the gru­elling 160km event

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