Bruce Fordyce desert-bound with top runners in Battle of the Sports

See how you can help support this Covid-19 fundraiser

16 September 2020 - 16:02
Bruce Fordyce (left) joins Team Running before they head into the desert for the BrightRock Battle of the Sports.
Bruce Fordyce (left) joins Team Running before they head into the desert for the BrightRock Battle of the Sports.
Image: Supplied

Comrades running legend Bruce Fordyce is leading a team of top SA runners into the Northern Cape desert on Wednesday as part of the hotly contested BrightRock Battle of the Sports.

In this gruelling 200km endurance race against time at Verneukpan, three-times Comrades winner Bongmusa Mthembu – who has also won gold eight times — joins teammates David Gatebe and Jenna Challenor to compete against the rugby, soccer and cricket teams and prove which sport produces the toughest athletes.

Challenor, the only woman competing in the Battle of the Sports, is a prominent ultra-marathon runner and Comrades Marathon gold medallist.

Comrades Marathon winner and coach Nick Bester, who was badly injured in an attack late last month while he was out training, had to withdraw from the challenge.

However, he will still join the team this week in support.

“I was looking so forward to this amazing challenge and am really disappointed not to be participating,” said Bester. “I am, however, still going down and will be supporting the team and Bruce and [challenge leader Erik Vermeulen] with all the arrangements and logistics. I feel they are an excellent team and stand a great chance of winning this challenge.”

More than just bragging rights

Last week, Team Rugby set the bar high when they completed the challenge.

“But the challenge is much more than just bragging rights,” said Vermeulen. “It’s more about effecting positive change by appealing to passionate SA sports fans to support their sporting heroes and help raise money to protect vulnerable communities from Covid-19.” 

“We are appealing to every sports icon – national, provincial or amateurs from every sport possible — as well as ordinary citizens from all walks of life, sports fans and corporates in SA to do their own challenge or simply donate to this worthy cause to support our sports icons,” said Clive Grinaker, founder of the NGO Events to Aid, which has partnered with Right to Care, the healthcare non-profit organisation.

An advisory panel that comprises Prof Ian Sanne, co-founder of Right to Care and a specialist in infectious diseases; Prof Glenda Gray, president and CEO of the SA Medical Research Council; and Prof Shabir Madhi, professor of vaccinology at the University of the Witwatersrand will help Events to Aid channel the funds that are raised to the areas identified for Covid-19 relief.

How do you get involved?

Support your team in the 200km challenge by donating to this worthy cause, or decide what event you want to do – alone or in a team – and visit the Battle of the Sports website to enter and pay for your team.

Film your event – you can also do more than one — and upload the footage onto the challenge's Facebook or Twitter page, or via Instagram. Use the hashtags #200kmchallenge #lovechange when posting.

Then challenge as many of your friends as possible, or any schools, clubs and companies, to do the challenge by tagging them in your social media posts.

The four teams competing in the event:

  • Cricket: Lance Klusener, Makhaya Ntini, Monde Zondeki; managed by Jonty Rhodes.
  • Rugby: Hanyani Shimange, John Smit, Schalk Brits; managed by Butch James.
  • Running: Bongmusa Mthembu, David Gatebe, Jenna Challenor; managed by Bruce Fordyce.
  • Soccer: Matthew Booth, Siyabonga Nomvethe, Teko Modise; managed by Neil Tovey.