Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 166 March 2024 | Page 48


Putting Sho

They say the only thing you need fields , facilities and equipment , ru athletes can afford new running s

On 21 January , an excited group of athletes hit the roads around the Tiisetso Community Centre in the Thabo Mbeki informal settlement in Diepsloot , just north of Johannesburg . Many of the 35 athletes were taking part in their formal running event , and even though it was just a 3.5km fun run , the team behind the ‘ race ’ made it feel like a real race , with entries , marshals , a water point , medals at the finish , timed results , and even elite athletes to lead the runners and sweep at the back of the pack . In fact , the sweep was triple World Duathlon Champion and current Totalsports Two Oceans Half Marathon women ’ s champion , Emma Pallant-Browne !

The run was organised by the coaches and athletes of PEak Team Coaching , in conjunction with The Sneaker Shack and other sponsors and partners , as part of Project Run ( started by The Sneaker Shack ), with PEak ’ s founder and head coach , Jaryd Browne ( Emma ’ s husband ) heading up the ‘ race day ’ team . In recent months , PEak has been leading weekly training runs in local townships near its Sandton base , with the aim to not only to get local communities running , but also to collect used running shoes – or pre-loved shoes , as the PEak team refer to them – and get them on the feet of these eager new runners . This race-like run was an extension of that , to give the new athletes a taste of what it feels like to run an official race .
“ The buzz generated considerable interest within the community , with many inquiries at the community centre . So , the excitement is building , and we foresee the event growing , potentially drawing more participants to our weekly evening run sessions ,” says Jaryd . “ The success of Project Run is not just about encouraging kids from the outside , but
The first Project Run ‘ race ’ field in January .
empowering those within the community . Our next Project Run race , scheduled on Youth Day in June , aims to traverse the community itself , aiming to inspire the entire village and foster a culture of running and healthy living . A massive thanks to our partners for making this possible .”
“ This first ‘ race ’ was pretty much a concept tester , to see what works and what doesn ’ t work ,” continues Jaryd . “ We got some leftover medals from the Dis-Chem Half Marathon , and we got our PEak athletes to get out there and be volunteers . We want to use the people within our community , and especially within the PEak team , to give back a little bit . And that doesn ’ t have to be financial … it can just be giving up three hours on a Sunday morning to come and volunteer at a fun run .”
A core part of Project Run is to get running shoes on to the feet of these newcomers to the sport , and the PEaK team has come up with a novel incentive scheme to achieve this . We sat down for a short Q & A with Jaryd after their first ‘ race ’ and asked him to explain more about the concept and goals of the initiative .
MA : Tell us what the main goal of Project Run is . JB : At the core of Project Run is our commitment to get the community moving and promote fitness , regardless of age or ability . Participants regularly attending run sessions are rewarded with sports bottles , clothing or shoes . The number one focus with this project is that we ’ re empowering people to move , but our number two focus is to get them away from certain kinds of distractions , like drugs and alcohol .
Beyond fitness , we aim to identify and nurture young talent , by providing training support and facilitating their participation in races . For those aspiring to pursue athletics further , we offer assistance with education , ensuring a healthy balance between sports and academics , and guiding them hopefully toward sports college scholarships in the USA . The ultimate goal , and the number three focus , is to find the running talent , and hopefully the next up-and-coming guy that can win a big race , or earn a living from racing , not just through prize monies , but perhaps as a pacemaker overseas . We want to see individuals from these communities compete abroad and inspire from within , and we believe that with proper support , we can make this a reality .
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