The little club from Pretoria with a big Comrades dream
The differences between a small running club and their elite counterparts are worlds apart.
A case in point is the Slyza Athletics Club‚ a rookie side who are among the 21 500 entries of this year’s Comrades Marathon.
The Pretoria-based outfit pales into insignificance when‚ for an example‚ they are compared with a well-established institution like the Nedbank Running Club.
Members of “The Green Dream Team” – as the Nedbank side are known – enjoy huge benefits that include having their members being sponsored‚ from their running shoes to kit.
Their elite runners are flown and accommodated in decent hotels a few days before the race and should any of their runners win Sunday’s race‚ they stand to make up to R200 000 in cash incentives.
This according to their incentive structure for the Comrades‚ which is much more lucrative than other races.
Slyza‚ for their part‚ travelled by road – in two combis to be precise – to reach Durban.
Their 42-member contingent have not seen any proper sleep since they embarked on their about 500 kilometre journey to Durban from Pretoria on Friday night.
It took a budget of R80 000 to get them to the KwaZulu-Natal coastal city‚ the end point of the 90km Comrades race that will start in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday morning (5.30am).
“It’s not easy running a club. We are battling without sponsorship‚” said Slyza chairman Peter Kabelo Moremi‚ whose team are made up of people who hold day jobs.
“We raised‚ from our own pocket‚ about R82 000 for travel and accommodation for our runners and some of the club members. Not of all us are working but we have to accommodate others.
“We are thankful to Bakwena Toll who sponsored us with beanies‚ gazebos and T-shirts.”
Moremi will also test himself against the unforgiving down run on Sunday.
Much as they are still young‚ he is proud to see his club‚ which started with 14 members‚ growing up to 82 registered members.
They have entered 16 runners‚ five of which are women‚ in Sunday’s race.
Despite their modest story‚ Slyza were the centre attention of the huge crowd that had descended on the Comrades Expo at Durban’s Exhibition Centre.
Through song and dance‚ Moremi and co showed just the right spirit in their quest to tackle the 93rd edition of the “Ultimate Human Race”.
Check Slyza out on: www.slyzaathleticclub.co.za