Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 166 March 2024 | Page 49


to start running is a decent pair of running shoes . Unlike other sporting codes that need playing nning is just about the shoes and putting one foot in front of the other . However , not all aspiring hoes , and that ’ s where initiatives like Project Run come in . – BY SEAN FALCONER
And they ’ re off on their maiden 3.5km race experience .
MA : OK , I ’ m with you so far , but how does an athlete ‘ earn ’ their shoes ? JB : So , if they do six sessions , they get given a pair of shoes , and then if they do 10 sessions , they get asked if they would like to do a running race , and we ’ ll sponsor them and take them to a running race , so that they can experience what that feels like . We recently gave away our first pair of shoes in the Thabo Mbeki community , to a guy called Thulani , who is also the soccer team captain . He awas the first person to do six consecutive weeks of Tuesday training runs . We ’ ve got another group in Vosloorus that we gave shoes to recently – I think it was 15 pairs – because their running group is already established and they ’ re committed , with people consistently coming to run .
MA : Where do the shoes come from ? JB : They ’ re all used shoes , or pre-loved shoes . We have drop-boxes at Totalsports and Sneaker Shack stores where people can drop their pre-loved shoes in , then we collect the shoes and grade them . The A category are your racing shoes , that have got pretty good life left in them , that we can give to people that are going to
MA : So how do you pull the different strands of the project together ? JB : My role in the Project Run space is to identify and establish running groups that that we can facilitate and distribute these shoes to . We ’ ve got some partners in KZN and the Western Cape , and obviously here in Gauteng , and between us all , the goal is to distribute 2500 pairs of shoes to 1250 people . But we don ’ t just want to hand out as many pairs of shoes to as many people as we can , we want to want to come back in six months ’ time and give each runner another pair of shoes … because we ’ re not just ticking a box . We want to show them that we ’ re not just there for the Instagram post .
We want these athletes to understand that those shoes are going to wear out if they train consistently , but then we will reward them by giving them more shoes . So , we will use a bit of a token system : We track all the shoes that we hand out , and when that point comes for an athlete to get a new pair of shoes , they have to give us back the old pair of shoes as a token , so that they can get their new pair of shoes . We know that donated shoes sometimes get sold , so we ’ re trying to put some measures in place to avoid that .
Images : Matthew Bates / Project Run