Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 127, February 2020 - Page 39

being dormant, is like being an explorer finding a new map to a treasure he thought was lost. And just like that explorer, I have set my sails anew and am venturing back into open waters in search of lost treasure. Joining the Masters The South African Masters Athletics (SAMA) is an affiliate of Athletics South Africa and offers various athletic disciplines for age groups 35 and over. Athletes who participate in SAMA competitions can qualify for provincial and national colours, and can go on to the World Masters Champs as well. Let the youngsters have their moment, but we older dogs certainly can have ours, too. PJ’S PIECE By PJ Moses Re-Mastering the track Look, it’s not every day that a 40-something runner will have the opportunity to achieve a childhood dream of getting provincial colours, or even national team colours, in something they haven’t done since high school. O ver the last year I have discovered quite a few things to reignite my fire for running and competing. The short distance trail races which are scattered around Cape Town, has got me back into beast mode whenever I hit the trails. I guess a couple of podiums will do that to you. Also, completing a few duathlons has sparked a definite interest in triathlons, and maybe even an Ironman one day. But the one thing that has really got my juices flowing has been the Masters Athletics events on the track. Locally, I found that Western Province Athletics puts on the Leo Benning Grand Prix Series for Master athletes, run over the summer period, and I was in there like a bear. I went to the first meeting of the series not knowing what to expect, but eager to enter any race I could. The cost of entry was nominal, and for less than a ‘Street Wise Two’ from KFC, I was able to enter three events (800m, long jump and high jump), get a temp licence and buy an age tag. Off I went, filled with nervous energy and feeling a bit out of place, but I shouldn’t have worried, because there was only love and jokes amongst the competitors. I also saw a few familiar faces from the road running world, as well as a few elite young guns using the event as training for their own season. The camaraderie among the competitors was also very special, and I love that about our sport, which is often seen as such a driven and competitive activity. We were all doing our best, but we were also cheering loudly for others. Stronger together, even when competing apart. (Tell the Olympic team that I’ve got their slogan ready.) Look, I had no delusions of grandeur about how it was going to turn out, and I think that also helped with the nerves. I was just happy to be taking part. The day went well and I got through all three events unscathed, and with a big smile on my face. I was pretty chuffed, knowing that I was rusty, but that I had the potential to reach my goals – with a lot of hard work in between, of course. Back in the Groove So after two Leo Benning meetings I’ve narrowed my focus down to the 800m, which I’ve always loved, the long jump and the 400m. I think in the year ahead, with good quality training, that I will definitely be able to make Nationals in at least one of those events. To keep me motivated, I’ve even challenged my brother to step out of retirement and make a comeback. A little sibling rivalry goes a long way, and two Bontas Boykies at the SA Champs competing in one or two of the same events will be one for the books. Who knows, maybe I’ll even be able to get to wear that green and gold, which all South African athletes of every age dream about. Now wouldn’t that be a story to tell my grandchildren one day! As a youngster, I can remember watching athletics on TV and seeing greats like Johan Fourie, Johan Landsman, Matthews Temane and ‘Loop-en-Val’ Motshwarateu gliding around the athletics tracks of South Africa. Dreaming of one day following in their footsteps, my friends and I would then, of course, try and emulate them whenever the school athletics season would come around. I never achieved those heights during my teens, and as I went into adulthood, parenthood and just getting by day to day, all those things were left behind. So to find them now again, after decades of ABOUT THE AUTHOR: PJ is a former Cape Flats gangster who took up running, and writing about it, when he turned his back on that dangerous lifestyle in order to set a better example for his two sons. Today he is an accomplished runner, from short distances to ultra-marathons, recently began working in running retail, and his exceptional writing talent has opened still more doors in his new life. 39