Soweto woman to run 648km to help mental health sufferers

Zanele Hlatshwayo, 33, on January 18 2018. She running 648km in 18 races to raise awareness about mental health, suicide, and help the South African Depression and Anxiety Group’s toll free hotline.
Zanele Hlatshwayo, 33, on January 18 2018. She running 648km in 18 races to raise awareness about mental health, suicide, and help the South African Depression and Anxiety Group’s toll free hotline.
Image: SUPPLIED

When Phillip Hlatshwayo‚ 47‚ committed suicide in 2008‚ his daughter Zanele‚ 33‚ lost her hero.

As she faced a world of unanswered questions‚ she turned to running to cope with her loss.

“At first‚ I was running away from my pain. I couldn’t understand why my father had to leave me. I was angry‚ broken and ashamed that the strongest man I’ve ever known took his own life.”

Running eventually became a coping mechanism for Zanele‚ from Orlando West in Soweto.

“It has become my sacred space where I get to heal‚ clear my head‚ but‚ most of all‚ where I get to conquer.”

Zanele is now running 648km in 18 races to raise awareness about mental health‚ suicide‚ and help the South African Depression and Anxiety Group’s toll free hotline.

She has covered 389km in 15 races and raised R68‚153.88 through her online crowdfunding campaign.

She is aiming for R180‚000.

“This journey has been a physical and emotional roller coaster‚ but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It has been a healing experience in the way I didn’t expect. I found strength in my vulnerability and found a way to deal with my father’s tragedy through those who have shared their pain with me.”

She will be running the Comrades Marathon on Sunday before tackling the mammoth Washie Miller 160km race next month.

When Zanele is not on the road she is a video specialist at Google.

If you or someone you know is in need of help‚ call Sadag’s helpline at 0800 567 567.

 

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