Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 143, July 2021 July 2020 - Page 31

ROAD RUNNING was worried about my health . She was encouraging and supportive , but also reminded me that my health is more important than any challenge .”
Given these constraints , and not wanting his family and friends to worry too much , this time Ismael decided it was not about the quickest time he could run the distance in , but instead decided to see if he could complete the distance by doing shorter runs . Part of his game plan was to try and squeeze in as many runs after work as he could . “ Even though the second attempt was much harder , I stayed focused and determined to reach my goal . I finished my run ‘ back to Cape Town ’ on the 19th of April , almost a full month after starting out ... but when I finished my second run , there were still other participants ‘ on their
way ’ to Mossel Bay !”

Building Up to Running

Looking further back , Ismail says that he did not hail from a sporty family , and while he ran track at school and played a little soccer while growing up , he had to put sport aside when working commitments and adulthood forced him focus on providing for his family . Later , when his brother completed a few Cape Town Cycle Tours in the early nineties , it inspired Ismail to also want to stay fit through cycling , and in 1995 he followed in his brother ’ s footsteps , signing up to ride his first Cape Town Cycle Tour race . “ I knew very little about training programmes , nutrition and the right equipment , so for me it was just about getting on my bike and riding the distance , which I was able to do in a respectable time of three hours 46 minutes ,” says Ismael .
To date he has completed 14 Cycle Tours on the road and another four on his mountain bike , as well as nine Stellenbosch Cycle Tours and various other races through the years . Other than cycling , he also used walking to keep fit , going on to do a few big walks between 2005 and 2009 , such as the Discovery Big Walk , FNB Big Walk and the Blisters for Bread Walk . However , the running bug was lying in wait to bite him …
At the end of 2009 he accepted an invitation from a work colleague , Elmora Smit , to join her for a run , and found himself at the 8km Memorial Run , which is held
I finished my run back to Cape Town on the 19th of April , almost a full month after starting out ... but when I finished my second run , there were still other participants on their way to Mossel Bay !”
each New Year ’ s Eve on the Sea Point Promenade in Cape Town not only to round off the running year , but also to remember those runners that have passed away during that particular year . “ I pitched up at the start , having no clue what to expect . I was nervous and excited , dressed in my white vest , red shorts and non-running shoes , but by the end of the race I think I knew that I had found my new passion ,” says Ismael .
The running bug didn ’ t just give him a nibble , it bit down hard , and that January he joined the Tygerberg Athletics Club . “ There I spent the next 10 years of my life running various races and distances , before moving over to Ommiedraai AC in 2020 . Coincidentally , my first race for both clubs was the Topform 10km – in 2010 I ran it in 48 minutes for
Tygerberg , and in 2020 I ran it in 39 minutes for
Ommiedraai .”

Secrets of His Success

Ismail is a strong believer in hard work and full commitment to any endeavour that you decide to undertake , but also knows that without the support and encouragement of his family and friends , he would not be successful in his sporting pursuits . “ My motto is and always will be that life is like an empty box … you only get out what you put in . If you are not willing to put in the time and effort , then you can ’ t expect to be successful . Finding the balance is key , and as a working man with a family , it is sometimes tough to find the time to put in the training , but an important aspect of my training has always been to have a happy wife in order to have a happy life .”
Having completed this double , ‘ out and back ’ test of character and coming out on top , Ismail says he has a few other things that he would like to tick off his bucket list . “ I have not run many races outside of Cape Town , other than Comrades , so I would love to do a few more marathons and ultras beyond the borders of my city , but there are also a few challenges close by that I wish to complete . Next on the list would be the 13 Peaks Challenge , which I am hoping to complete with some friends and earn a multiday badge . And when races return to some kind of normal , I would love to do Puffer , Om Die Dam , Cape Town Festival of Running and the 12-hour Orak race in Vredendal .”
He adds that his five keys to success in anything he does are commitment , discipline , sacrifice , perseverance and determination . “ Without these things you won ’ t reach you potential , so commit to a race once you enter it , and discipline will help you to stay focused on your goals . Sometimes you ’ ll have to sacrifice time with family and friends , especially during training , and there will be moments when you will have to persevere through the pain and discomfort in order to reach your goal . And be determined to always give your best . This will help you get on top of any challenge you face . That ’ s how I got through running to Mossel Bay , and back again !”
Ismael in his Ommiedraai club colours
Prize-giving for the Cape to Mossel Bay virtual runners