Self­less, ded­i­cated Com­rades-in-arms

De Wet, De La Motte and Dig­ger hon­oured for Big Race big hearts

Saturday Star - - SPORT - MATSHELANE MAMABOLO matshelane.mamabolo@inl.co.za

DUR­BAN: They are self­less and ded­i­cated. They have in­cred­i­ble per­se­ver­ance and per­son­ify Ubuntu. Added to that is their un­con­di­tional love for the Com­rades Marathon.

Danie de Wet, Bob De La Motte and Bruce Har­g­reaves were last night hon­oured as this year’s re­cip­i­ents of the Old Mu­tual Spirit of Com­rades Award at a beach­front ho­tel here.

De La Motte’s name will im­me­di­ately ring a bell given his il­lus­tri­ous his­tory in the Ul­ti­mate Hu­man Race. His bat­tles with Bruce Fordyce are leg­endary, De La Motte hav­ing fin­ished run­ner-up three times to the Com­rades King.

The man who has since left the coun­try to go and live in Aus­tralia was last night lauded for his book ‘Run­away Com­rade’ which high­lights the dif­fi­cul­ties that run­ners of colour faced due to the in­equal­ity in op­por­tu­ni­ties for pro­fes­sional train­ing, sup­port and fi­nanc­ing that oc­curred as a re­sult of apartheid.

To try and as­sist these iconic run­ners from the 1980s, Bob has made do­na­tions in­clud­ing the pro­ceeds of his book sales to trusts which will ben­e­fit them in their re­tire­ment.

“Many of these trail-blaz­ing black dis­tance run­ners from the apartheid era have sim­ply dis­ap­peared, their tri­umphs ig­nored and pos­si­bly for­got­ten by those who should be keep­ing their mem­ory alive and honour­ing them,” De La Motte said.

That Daniel de Wet ran this year’s race was an ut­ter miracle given that just three years ago he had a 1.8-me­tre metal in­dus­trial crow­bar pen­e­trate his body at a mine in Car­letonville.

De Wet had run six Com­rades be­fore the ac­ci­dent and was over­whelmed with emo­tion to be lin­ing up for his sev­enth in Mar­itzburg in June.

“I was so blessed to be at the start of Com­rades 2018, know­ing ev­ery day that my train­ing was lead­ing me to not just a great ex­pe­ri­ence but a life chang­ing event that teaches you to train your body and also your mind.

“This was my sev­enth Com­rades and I ded­i­cated it to Mil­park Hos­pi­tal ICU staff, ev­ery paramedic, my wife, my train­ing group and my late run­ning part­ner, my dad, who stood by me ev­ery step of the way.

“Thanks to Com­rades for chang­ing lives and mo­ti­vat­ing peo­ple like me to stand up again!”

Har­g­reaves, af­fec­tion­ately known as Dig­ger, has served as the Com­rades Marathon In­ter­na­tional Brand Am­bas­sador for Aus­tralia since 2008. He has since joined the ranks of In­ter­na­tional Brand Am­bas­sadors at Large since 2014.

Dig­ger has been ac­tively in­volved in spread­ing the word of The Ul­ti­mate Hu­man Race and help­ing at­tract more in­ter­na­tional ath­letes to come and ex­pe­ri­ence Com­rades for them­selves.

His tire­less com­mit­ment has seen him host­ing stands at marathon ex­pos around Aus­tralia and as­sist­ing many a run­ner with their train­ing sched­ules, as well as ad­vis­ing, as­sist­ing and mo­ti­vat­ing other Com­rades In­ter­na­tional Am­bas­sadors to spread the Com­rades mes­sage through­out the world.

Even though he was not well enough to run in 2018, he com­mit­ted to ac­com­pa­ny­ing the Aus­tralian ‘team’ to this year’s Com­rades and made cer­tain that they had the nicest ex­pe­ri­ence pos­si­ble. Dig­ger has com­pleted the Com­rades Marathon eight times.

The three each re­ceived a oneounce, 24 carat gold medal­lion in recog­ni­tion of some­one who em­bod­ies the Com­rades spirit and in­spires oth­ers to do good and be a shin­ing ex­am­ple of good­ness for hu­man­ity.

Also hon­oured last night were Dean Wight and Grant Cum­mings for raising R327 0000 and R323 000 each for Hill­crest AIDS Cen­tre Trust.

The trio of Brian Swart, Dave Dixon and Jeremy Boul­ter got the CMA Green Name which is con­ferred upon mem­bers who have ren­dered out­stand­ing mer­i­to­ri­ous ser­vice to the race and the CMA. They were hon­oured for ex­cep­tion­ally long ser­vice to Com­rades.

Cham­pion Bongu­musa Mthembu re­ceived his win­ner’s jacket last night.

❘ Back­pagepix

BONGU­MUSA Mthembu wins the 2018 Com­rades Marathon

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