Thousands run lockdown garden marathon

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young fitness woman runner running on sunrise seaside trail

The nationwide lockdown has left most South Africans confined to their homes. Although the extreme restriction was put in place to prevent the spreading of Covid-19, many people feel frustrated by how limiting their yards can be in order to reach their fitness goals.

However, with extreme limits comes extreme adjustment. Locals are taking on the Mzanzi Marathon Lockdown Challenge to run 42 km in 21 days in their own yards. According to one of the organisers, Russell Nugent, the idea came about last week as a way for people to stay fit and reduce stress levels during the three-week lockdown. “The Mzansi was born out of conversations between myself and Warren King, an event organiser from Johannesburg.

I mentioned to him that with all the sporting events like the Ironman and Two Oceans being cancelled because of Covid-19, I was thinking of organising a ‘virtual’ Two Oceans where runners cover a specified distance wherever they are in the world within a specific period of time, submit proof, and then become eligible for a medal,” he said. With the lockdown imminent a few days later, they came up with the Mzansi Lockdown Marathon Challenge, the goal being covering 42 km over three weeks within the confines of participants’ homes or gardens. “This amounted to 2 km a day, which we felt would be manageable for all, yet remain a challenge. We both know how important it is for any sporting activity to have a goal. It’s really tough to get up in the morning and just run,” expressed Nugent, an avid runner and optometrist by trade.

The Challenge has turned into a healthy activity for many locals through the power of social media. About 10 000 people have already taken up the homebased marathon and organisers expect 2 000 more to join before the end of the week. One of the participants, Iselle Combrink, expressed her excitement to join the Mzansi Lockdown Marathon Challenge along with many others who may have been negatively affected by social distancing.

“Apart from staying active and exploring the activities shared by fellow South Africans, this challenge gives us a tool to manage our mental health in a surreal scenario. Social isolation could have a bad psychological effect on many people,” she explained. It isn’t too late to join the Mzansi Lockdown Marathon Challenge.

Just visit the Facebook page as registrations remain open. All the proceeds from the medals and shirts will go to the Solidarity fund.

Nomaqhawe Mtebele

nomaqhawe@mahareng.co.za