Moving Together in the Footsteps of Mandela
The Madiba “magic” triumphed as thousands of participants set off on various routes through the winelands and forest areas at the annual Nelson Mandela 27 for Freedom Run between Paarl and Franschhoek on Saturday, 9 February 2013.
Many dusted off their running shoes to walk and run to eventually emulate the final steps of the icon, who spent 27 years incarcerated. In addition to being a test of athletes’ endurance and a salute to our country’s most loved icon though, the run raised funds for the impoverished Boland community.
The race, which is in its fourth year, started and finished at the Victor Verster Prison (now called the Drakenstein Correctional Facility). This was a joint effort between the Drakenstein Correctional Services, Cape Winelands District Municipality, Departments of Correctional Services and Cultural Affairs and Sport, and others.
The distance of the main race was 27km (one kilometre for each year Mandela spent in prison), but the race was separated into three separate race categories for both walkers and runners: 5-km, 10-km and 27-km races, as well as something for the little ones: a 50-m toddler trot.
The day also offered entertainment. SK Sekoati (better known as Kabelo in the TV series, 7de Laan) played host to the proceedings to get those feet tapping and trotting while musicians like Boki, Andriette and Dillon Lerm also made appearances.
Despite the rainy weather, the event brought thousands together. Mr Manfred Jacobs of the Department of Correctional Services said the race has over the years proved to be significant to the people in the Cape Winelands and in the country as it pays homage to Mandela’s quest for dignity and justice for all by giving runners the chance to emulate his final walk to freedom. “The day certainly offered a family fun day of sport, history and entertainment,” said Jacobs.
Ms Sandra Pillay, who came all the way from Wynberg in Cape Town to participate in the event, said the race gave her the opportunity to build new friendships. “This is my second year that I took part. And personally, this race makes a person part of a nation rooted in wellness of body and contributing to a positive lifestyle,” she said.
Although the winners of the main race received a coveted medal, the reward for many is tracing Madiba’s steps and reliving our nation’s walk to freedom. It emphasised that this is a walk or run every South African should participate in.