The Big Walk is on track
Gauteng's favourite family bonding event is alive and well, waiting for the several thousand participants to make it a continuing nation-building reality.
Inaugurated last year as the Sowetan Big Walk, the event is now being staged by the Loop en Val Athletics Club - an affiliate of Central Gauteng Athletics, who are in turn a part of Athletics South Africa.
Both the club and the walk honour the iconic middle- and long-distance athlete Matthews "Loop en Val" Motshwarateu, who was well known for his intriguing running style- which gave the impression that he would fall over exhausted at any moment.
It starts off at the Mapetla Sport Centre on Friday, Workers' Day, from 9am to 1pm. Members of athletic clubs will pay R20 for the 10km walk and R10 for the 5km walk. Non-club members will pay R15 for a temporary licence -meaning the 10km walk will cost R35 and the 5km R20.
Aimed at families, though also encouraging more potential athletes to take up "race walking", the big walk concept - which was originally sold to Loop en Val by events management company Madimo Promotions - seeks to highlight the importance of walking as a health, confidence and motivation booster.
While the inaugural event attracted more than 2500 participants - Loop en Val chairperson Herman "Pango" Makhale said they now expect about 4000.
"This figure is based on the huge number of calls we have received from participants in Gauteng and elsewhere," Makhale said.
In all, 54 clubs will participate.
Makhale said 17 clubs will help to ensure the smooth running of the event, handling chores including marshalling, refereeing, judging, ticketing, manning water points, security and even the cleaning up after the race.
In race walking, an Olympic event, one foot must appear to be in contact with the ground at all times, and participants' stride lengths are reduced, to attain competitive speeds
To introduce a proper culture of walking to gain health and fitness - and particularly targeting families, Makhale is encouraging readers to join athletic clubs - and for contact details of a club near you, you can call him on 072-556-3678.