Take a step in the right direction

The Loop en Val Big Walk takes place on Friday at the Mapetla Sports Centre in Soweto.

The Loop en Val Big Walk takes place on Friday at the Mapetla Sports Centre in Soweto.

The event is organised by the Loop en Val Athletic Club and seeks to encourage the communtyto take up running and or walking to keep fit and healthy.

The Big Walk is dedicated to the memory of the late iconic short and middle distance star Matthews "Loop en Val" Motshwarateu, pictured. He was nicknamed "Loop en Val" (walk and fall) because of his ungainly stride. He also held the 10km world best while at college in the US.

Loop en Val Athletic Club chairman Herman "Pango" Makhale said 4000 walkers are expected to take part in this year's Big Walk. This follows on last year's successful event, sponsored by Sowetan, when 2500 walkers took part.

A total of 54 athletic clubs from around Gauteng are expected to support this event, which is hosted by the Central Gauteng Athletics-affiliated Loop en Val Athletic Club and sanctioned by Athletics South Africa.

Top professional race walkers expected to take part include Mojalefa Modise, Abram Songish Thami Hlatshwayo, Sipho Mahlangu, Barbra Nel, Nomsa Buthelezi, Brenda Nooi and Thabiso Tsagang.

Registration is compulsory and this may be done at the venue on Friday between 5.30am and 8.45am.

Members of athletic clubs pay R20 for the 10km walk and R10 for the 5km walk.

Non-club members pay an additional R15 for a temporary licence, making a cost of R35 for the 10km walk, and R25 for the 5km walk.

Walking has many health benefits, such as preventing diabetes, alleviating depression, reducing the risk of cancer, helping to control blood pressure, decreasing the risk of heart attacks and the risk of strokes.

Makhale said: "While we believe that walking for a family could promote a healthier life style, we are also encouraging communities to see walking as a growing competitive sport in athletics."

Race walking is the competitive component in athletic events.

It is a foot race in which one foot must appear to be in contact with the ground at all times, with the stride length reduced to achieve competitive speeds.

For further details call Makhale on 072-556-3678 or Tshepiso Motshwarateu on 078-660-9598.