No more couch potatoes: proud Dream Chasers runners cross the finish line

Weeks of hard work have paid off for the Fedhealth Dream Chasers, who now have grand plans to keep running

19 September 2019 - 14:19
From left, Nkine Letsela, Bonani Zuke and Hengie McInnes, this year's Dream Chasers participants.
From left, Nkine Letsela, Bonani Zuke and Hengie McInnes, this year's Dream Chasers participants.
Image: Supplied

If Nkine Letsela’s reaction to accomplishing his goal in the widely successful inaugural Dream Chasers campaign is anything to go by, Fedhealth may have to start calling it the Miracle Chasers campaign.

Three months ago, Letsela was fretting about the prospect of the 12km trail run at the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon as one of three participants in the Dream Chasers campaign, which is aimed at helping to realise the fitness dreams of Fedhealth’s members.

Not long after Letsela began training, he said his body felt like it had been through World War 3. And with two weeks remaining ahead of the race, he had calf, shin and illness issues. Yet when his race came over the weekend, he smashed his expectations by a whopping 11 minutes (he was hoping to finish in one hour and 45 minutes).

As if being a “machine” while going up Cape Town’s Signal Hill wasn’t enough, the 29-year-old is now talking about tackling the granddaddy of all races.

“I’m starting to get this thing in my head that I want to do the Comrades Marathon,” he says. “I want to start doing the 42[km]s and qualifying for it. I’ve got this thing that’s just lingering in the back of my mind and it’s starting to bug me.

“But I have to start by doing the 22km trail at next year’s Cape Town Marathon first.”

Another runner whose Dream Chasers experience has given her a taste for the improbable is Bonani Zuke, who ran the full marathon distance at the event on the day of her 40th birthday and obliterated her personal best.

Zuke, who ran the Soweto Marathon in six-and-a-half hours in her maiden voyage over the distance last year, finished in a jaw-dropping four hours and 49 minutes, a full 41 minutes faster than she had hoped despite having her energy levels crash halfway through due to hunger (thank goodness for the free food along the way).

Success like that begets massive dreams, and Zuke’s is no different: “With my time I managed to qualify for the Two Oceans Marathon, so I’m going to start training for it. Two Oceans is next April, so if I start training now I think I’ll be able to make it.”

Final challenge for the Dream Chasers race champions – watch the video:

The Fedhealth Dream Chasers have done it and crossed the finish line - and all within, even below, the time they set for themselves. Watch them do it.

While Letsela and Zuke are now vying for the most ambitious post-event goals, there is no reason to look down on Hengie McInnes, the third Dream Chasers participant. When she received the call for feedback on how her 10km race went, the 53-year-old was just about to leave her house for what has become her customary run.

Considering that when she became involved with the campaign she was a legendary couch potato with a sugar problem who could not run 3km without stopping, her transformation has been staggering.

McInnes ran the full 10km race without stopping, which was the first time she had managed to do that. 

“I ran with another ex-couchie from Cape Town because we were in the same starting pen. I asked him to leave me behind because I didn’t want him to say he could have done better but I held him back.

“But we ended up running together and at one point he said, ‘Should we walk?’ I said no, but when we were well into the ninth I said I couldn’t go any more. He said, ‘We are home, you carry on.’”

Apart from making a new friend for life, as an added extra McInnes – a born-and-bred Johannesburger who had never been to Cape Town – now has a new favourite destination in that “beautiful and clean” city.

>> Watch all the Dream Chasers episodes you missed here

Keep an eye on these channels for more news about Fedhealth and Dream Chasers: Fedhealth on Facebook and Twitter; and the hashtags #Fedhealth #DreamChasers

This article was paid for by Fedhealth.