Fedhealth Dream Chaser Bonani will be running the Cape Town Marathon on her 40th birthday

Follow the three-month-long fitness journeys of 3 Fedhealth Dream Chasers

09 July 2019 - 08:48
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Bonani Zuke will spend her 40th birthday in pursuit of lifelong dream: finishing the gruelling 42.2km Cape Town Marathon. Bonani is part of the Fedhealth Dream Chasers reality series that follows three everyday South Africans pursuing their athletic dreams.
Bonani Zuke will spend her 40th birthday in pursuit of lifelong dream: finishing the gruelling 42.2km Cape Town Marathon. Bonani is part of the Fedhealth Dream Chasers reality series that follows three everyday South Africans pursuing their athletic dreams.
Image: Supplied

There must be less painful ways of acknowledging a 40th birthday than running the 62,926 steps it takes an average woman to complete a marathon.

But that’s how Bonani Zuke – one of Fedhealth’s “Dream Chasers” participating in the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon – has chosen to “celebrate” the milestone. “I could have thrown a party but you can throw a party anytime,” she says.

“A party might have made everyone happy but this is for me as an individual. There’s a sense of achievement once you cross the line, so for me it’s not a painful way to celebrate.”

Bonani’s birthday run at the Cape Town Marathon forms part of the Fedhealth Dream Chasers project. Dream Chasers is SA’s hottest new reality web series, featuring the trials and tribulations of three everyday South Africans pursuing their fitness dreams by running the 10km race, the 12km trail run or the 42.2km distance. The contestants receive expert coaching, nutritional advice and gear to bolster their efforts.

In addition, all Fedhealth members receive free entry to compete in the Cape Town Marathon.

The mother of two’s 40th falls on September 15, which is coincidentally the same day the marathon will be run.

Not exactly a novice – she first began running four years ago to lose weight after the birth of her daughter Zimkhitha – Bonani is hoping to drop her time of six hours and five minutes from her maiden marathon (the Soweto Marathon) by more than half an hour.

“I was actually thinking that if I finish earlier than my goal, I can think about doing the Comrades ... that might be tempting.”

Watch the video | Meet Bonani Zuke

Before her dreams get ahead of her, Bonani has the small matter of the Cape Town Marathon to train for, something she only began three weeks ago because a cold delayed her start. Usually she trains four times a week: two gym sessions on Monday and Thursday and two 10km runs on Saturday and Sunday.

But since being introduced to Dream Chasers coach Brendan McBirnie, she’s had to add Tuesday track sessions ranging from 100m to 1,500m repetitions. 

As things stand that’s been the hardest part of her training: “It’s hard and it’s a challenge to always be the last person to finish. I’m always last and I’m at the back all the time.”

While her day job as an auditor is fortunately flexible enough for her new volume of training not to interfere with it, she has needed help at home in the form of her husband Thandokuhle doing a fair bit of the cooking and driving the kids around.

Bonani’s 14 year-old-son Wandile has pitched in by taking on the sergeant major role of getting her out of her Boskruin home when her commitment to training wavers.

Like most people turning 40, she is in two minds about how she feels: “I’ve got mixed feelings about it. I’m happy that I’m still alive but I’ve also got pressure from the things I wanted to achieve that I haven’t yet, so I’m a bit anxious about how I’m going to achieve them.”

Well, 42.2km is about long enough to work most of that out.

Missed last week’s Dream Chasers episode? Catch it here.

Follow the Dream Chasers' individual progress by keeping an eye on the following channels: Fedhealth on Facebook and Twitter; TimesLIVE on Facebook and Twitter; and the hashtags #Fedhealth #DreamChasers

This article was paid for by Fedhealth.

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