Run­ning On Air!

Runner's World South Africa - - CONTENTS - WORDS BY: LISA ABDELLAH

Sports pre­sen­ter Vaylen Kirt­ley is chang­ing the sys­tem from within.

Morn­ing Live sports pre­sen­ter and pro­ducer Vaylen Kirt­ley isn’t in­tim­i­dated by work­ing in a his­tor­i­cally male­dom­i­nated in­dus­try. Far from it; the 32-yearold from Cape Town has proved she be­longs there. From her early be­gin­nings at Top­sport’s Sports­buzz, she now co-hosts SABC 2’s The Ladies Club, where she ad­vo­cates for gen­der equal­ity in sport by giv­ing South Africa’s gamechang­ing women run­ners the op­por­tu­nity to share their sto­ries.

I was still in high school when I be­gan work­ing for the ju­nior sports pro­gramme Sports­buzz. Later, I worked along­side South Africa’s first black fe­male sports pre­sen­ter, Cyn­thia Tshaka, who in­spired me to pur­sue a ca­reer in broad­cast­ing.

‘Women in sport’ is a phrase that means brav­ery, ex­cel­lence and pas­sion. I have un­doubt­edly been in­spired by ev­ery woman run­ner I’ve in­ter­viewed, from Zola Bud­dPi­eterse to Caster Se­menya, and from Blanche Moila to Gerda Steyn.

We need a new nor­mal, re­gard­less of what we’ve been told in the past. If we harp on about the chal­lenges we face as women work­ing in male­dom­i­nated in­dus­tries, then we can’t ex­pect it to be­come nat­u­ral and nor­mal that we play in these spa­ces in so­ci­ety. To truly empower our­selves, we need to act like no space is ex­clu­sive to one gen­der.

I’d like to think I’ve in­spired other

women, by bring­ing some­thing pos­i­tive to sports broad­cast­ing. If any­thing, I’ve tried to bring the best of my­self.

With­out my mom’s sup­port, I wouldn’t have achieved half of what I have. She helps me make the most of the op­por­tu­ni­ties I’m given.

No area of my life is un­touched

by the fact that I’m a mom. Ev­ery de­ci­sion I make is in con­sid­er­a­tion of my daugh­ter, Te­hya, who is my source of in­spi­ra­tion and mo­ti­va­tion. We grow up think­ing our par­ents will be the ones who will teach us all we’ll know. But when you be­come a par­ent your­self, you re­alise how much learn­ing you still have left to do. You get to live life again; only this time, through the eyes of a child. You learn so much about a young, de­vel­op­ing hu­man be­ing – and also more about your­self.

What makes me happy is shar­ing a laugh with my loved ones. They’re a small group of peo­ple, but they mean the world to me.

I want to make the most of life:

to dis­cover, grow and leave the im­por­tant peo­ple in my life with pos­i­tive, won­der­ful mem­o­ries. I think we should all strive for our ideal.

I con­sider run­ning to be one of my

best friends, be­cause it has been a main­stay in my life since pri­mary school. It makes me feel no­tice­ably hap­pier.

Run­ning has taught me to keep mov­ing. When things are tough, put a smile on your face and fo­cus on putting one foot in front of the other. When it’s easy, en­joy the scenery. Those are valu­able life lessons.

The beauty of run­ning is that you can do it any­where. I take my takkies with me on all of my work trips.

My go-to pre-run fuel is a banana. Post-run, I en­joy peanut but­ter; ei­ther spread on a sand­wich, or straight from the spoon.

I’m train­ing for the Two Oceans Trail Run (24km). I ran the 2018 Cape Town Marathon 12km Peace Trail Run, which was ab­so­lutely stun­ning. I came fifth, but I also dis­cov­ered I need to do more tech­ni­cal train­ing in the moun­tains, so that my body will be bet­ter equipped to han­dle down­hill sec­tions.


& right bot­tomleft: She’s an avid run­ner who de­scribes the Cape Town Marathon 12km Peace Trail as “ab­so­lutely stun­ning”.

top left:Com­men­tat­ing on the 2016 Com­rades with for­mer SABC head of TV Sport Keletso Totl­hanyo and Bruce Fordyce (wear­ing an ‘Ul­ti­mate Hu­man Race’ makarapa!).

left: Vaylen Kirt­ley is suc­cess­ful in a male­dom­i­nated in­dus­try be­cause she’s made the most of ev­ery op­por­tu­nity she’s been given.

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