Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 127, February 2020 - Page 27

RACE WALKING improved male athlete, before joining current club, Tygerberg AC. He later even found himself serving on the club’s committee for a couple of years, but says his focus is not on administration, but on active participation. Man y n a M of s t n e l a T Few athletes are able to cross over from walking to running and back again, but capetonian endurance junkie Reggie Crowster often chops and changes between the two disciplines as he chases the mileage in races. – BY PJ MOSES W hile many runners start their running journey with plenty of walking, Reggie Crowster actually started with just walking. He was first introduced to the sport at the Cape Town Big Walk back in 2000. The former Kuils River native, who now resides in Parow, says he was never the sporty type while growing up, but when he walked his way to that first medal, there was never going to be any turning back. “I didn’t know that I was capable of doing long distance races, but when I saw all age groups of people doing it, from young to old, I told myself that if they can do it, then I can do it too. Turns out it was the best decision I could have made.” Reggie soon tried his hand at running as well, and to this day he still competes in both disciplines. He spent the first few years competing in the colours of Bonteheuwel Athletic Club, tackling his first Two Oceans Ultra in 2002 and his first Comrades the following year. He went on to win the club’s annual trophy for most That saw him sign up for the 1000km Challenge, and he now regularly travels all over the country to participate in races, including marathons and ultras as well as multi-day circuit races, where he uses a mixture of walking and running to amass huge distances. He now has 17 Two Oceans Ultra medals to his name, and has officially finished the Comrades six times. In recent months, he has also been doing exceptionally well in circuit racing, winning the Run For a Child 12-hour event in the Cape, with a distance of 86km covered, and also finishing first in the Johannesburg Running Festival, where he covered a massive 700km in 10 days! Biggest Disappointment Now with many, many races behind him, Reggie says the sport has brought him many good times – if you’ll excuse the pun – but they have also brought some low points, notably at the Comrades Marathon in 2007. As many runners know, missing a cut-off along the way is bad enough, but what hurts more is missing the final 12- hour cut-off by just a few seconds, having run the whole way. Reggie has felt that pain, and says it is still clear in his memory, even after all these years. “That was definitely my lowest moment in this running journey, missing the Comrades cut-off by just two seconds. I was the second person home after the shot went off, and it still breaks my heart.” That said, if you don’t have those bad days, you can’t fully appreciate the good days, and there are few better feelings than earning a podium position, or running an unexpected PB. “One of the standout race memories for me has to be the time that I did the Peninsula Marathon in 3 hours and 17 minutes. I was very surprised by the outcome, and my new PB. Also, good performances at the Beaufort West Half Marathon, Mandela Freedom Run, and of course, my first place finish at the 2019 Run For a Child 12-hour race, are special moments that I will cherish forever.” Doing Things His Way Apart from his running and walking adventures, much of Reggie’s day to day life is filled with working at a book printing company, and the rest of his free time is spent at home with his family. “I live with my Aunt and other family. They have been very supportive of my journey, even though they have not felt encouraged to join me just yet. My faith also plays a big part in my life, and I also watch a lot of sport talk shows on TV, as it is always good to learn from other’s experiences.” He’s got a creative side, too. “I am pretty much a homebody, but I also love being the decorator for various functions, like weddings and birthday parties. It is something that I find much pleasure in.” However, it is running and walking that remain his biggest passion, and just as most runners have a bucket list race or two, Reggie is no different. “I am 57 years old, never been married and quite happily single, with no kids, so I don’t see a reason why I should not be able to tick off a few more things from my bucket list. I would love to do a race or two overseas. Many Cape Town runners seem to be doing it now, and it looks like a lot of fun. I have ventured beyond the border before and did the Victoria Falls Marathon. I was not disappointed, because it was an amazing experience.” “I have learned quite a few lessons over the years of running and walking, and my advice to newbies would be to keep on believing that you can finish the race, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Don’t get swept up in the atmosphere and vibe of a race – it is nice, but it can throw you off your race strategy, and that can end in tears. So rather just stick to your own pace and as they say, run or walk your own race.” 27