- Published on Tuesday, 08 May 2012 10:02
- Written by Saadiq Samodien
The 29th edition of the UCT Memorial 10km Race got off to a sombre start on Sunday 6th May, as approximately 1 100 runners and hundreds of spectators paused for 60 seconds of silence before the race began.
The race is held every year in memory of Merrilyn Smith, Isavel Roche-Kelly, Lindsay Weight and Kevin Rochford, who were all top athletes at the UCT Athletics Club who tragically passed away. Each year, one of these four athletes is commemorated.
Before the race, UCT Vice- Chancellor Dr Max Price made a short speech in memory of former top-class cross-country runner Merrilyn Smith, who died while on holiday in Zimbabwe.
A moment of silence was also observed for 32-year-old Zolani Ntongama, one of South Africa’s top athletes who passed away at Groote Schuur Hospital last week, a victim of a hit-and-run incident. Soon after, the start gun was fired and all runners were swiftly on their way to the finish line.
The winner of the men’s race, Anthony Gotangwana, finished in an impressive 30 minutes and 24 seconds after breaking away from the rest of the runners. He finished with a smile at the UCT Cricket Oval and described the route as tough, but manageable, with the more difficult part of the race being the last 5km.
The real show, however, was stolen by the woman’s winner, Bulelwa Simae of Nedbank running club. She finished with a time of 37:39 and took home the Merrilyn Smith Memorial floating trophy. A first-time competitor in the race, Simae was ecstatic. “I was glad to have won this race. Once I was ahead, I could relax because I was not being chased,” said a visibly-excited Simae, who finished fourth in the 21km Safari Marathon held in Wellington on May 1st.
Not all athletes were looking for a top finish though. Riyaad Salie, who also finished the race in under an hour said: “This is my first time I have done this race, and enjoyed it thoroughly. Although I never achieved a top spot, the atmosphere was overwhelming and certainly encourages me to do this race again next year.”
The race’s chief organiser, Matthew Henshall, was glad to see the event finish without any hiccups. “It’s encouraging to see how smoothly the race has gone by compared to previous years,” said Henshall. He was also glad to see numbers in this race increasing
Price, who also finished the race in under an hour, was quite happy to see the high turnout. “There are over 1 000 runners and more than 1 000 spectators. It is good advertising, but more importantly it brings people on campus from communities who don’t often come onto UCT.
It is important because it breaks psychological barriers and creates a good atmosphere amongst the community,” said Price. He further added that he would love to see more UCT students join running- or other sports clubs.
Despite the hundreds of people that took part in this race, parademic Emma Zuidema said there were no serious injuries, only the occasional bruise or scratch.
The prize-giving ceremony took place as the final few runners reached the Oval. Many of the athletes who won their respective age divisions donated their prize money to the funeral of Zolani Ntongama.