My first marathon for their first books


Photo credit: Karin Abramowsky


If you wait for the perfect conditions….

Its only 3 days until my first marathon, yes the marathon. The one I am prepared to run to afford 1445 South African kids their first ever reading book. I wish I could call it a run, you know, 5 or 10 kms as I would be confident that it would go well but as soon as you start saying marathon when referring to runs you know it’s getting serious (even a half marathon is hard work)

So this week I’m doing what the experts called tapering. Basically my mileage has become less to allow my muscles to repair themselves for the race day. During this time you try to run less(believe me that’s also a challenge when you are used to waking up at 6am to run in the dark) and  it’s at this time you also eat lots of carbs and enjoy the pasta parties that you are invited to.

Ive also in the meantime developed a funny pain on my lower leg, I hope just hope it’s gone on race day. Maybe it’s the nerves, wouldn’t be fun to run with the pain, but if it means it has to be done that way then so be it.

I guess now that the big day is getting closer I’m also thinking a lot about my training from the past months. A lot like in life, missed runs don’t count anymore, kind of like missed opportunities. Could’ve, would’ve and should’ve are words that I’m not even thinking right now.

This project hasn’t come without sacrifices especially when you are training in the German winter. This means training in minus degrees and saying no to late nights out. That’s life hey, more often than once, something has got to give. I’ve put my heart into my fundraising project, I’ve talked for hours about it to anyone who could listen and I’ve carried the Book Dash books with me just to show people the motivation behind my run. When I look into my sent items and all the subject lines of most emails sent read “My first marathon for their first books” I see how much this project has changes my daily routine and I wouldnt have it any other way.

In the mist of all this, Im writing my first exams as a masters student in Germany- sounds like the worst time to run a marathon, I know.. but when would it have been the perfect time? I really have enough on my plate and shouldn’t need more, but I wanted to do this and no matter what happens on Sunday, I know it’s for a good cause. I’m not going to wait for the perfect conditions; I’m simply going to get this done.

I want to wish all the other runners (Mihaela, Lina , Deike, Flo and the Deutsche Welle team) that will also be running on Sunday an amazing race.

Id say “ break a leg” but that’s not what a runner wants to hear.

Photocredit: Mia Simo

Re(a)defining their futures, one book at a time.

The first time I had the pleasure of working with the organization Book Dash was in 2015 when I still worked at the Goethe-Institut library. One Saturday afternoon, I was lucky enough to witness the magic that they create in a space of 12 hours. Basically they have events around South Africa where teams of volunteers made up of a writer, illustrator and designer work closely with an editor to create the amazing stories that reflect issues that South African children can relate to. These beautiful books come in all of the 11 languages and represent kids of all colours and walks of life.

The scenario on this particular day reminded me so much of my favourite advert that alerted me as a kid that Christmas was near. There’s this Bakers biscuit advert where the Bakers man together with an army of helpful  kids bake our favourite cookies that we find in the Choice Allsorted range that forms an important part of most South Africans December celebrations.  The little boys and girls jump around happily in the biscuit factory as they sing to the jingle “who can make the biscuits (especially for you) covered in chocolate the bakers man can” .This is before the security guard comes peeping in to find everything quiet but boxes of biscuits that, to his surprised have filled the room.

Luckily for the Book Dashers, they can sing and dance as much as they want.Pacing up and down or glued onto the screen you can just see that the volunteers take their job seriously. Laughter is heard all around the room, with the occasional “whoo hoo” as a teams does a celebration dance because they have just brought their protagonist come to life. The upbeat music overrides the sound of the hands of the clock which reminds the volunteers that time is ticking. The breakfast, lunch and dinner breaks (together with the more than occasional glass of wine) gives them a chance to meet new faces and catch up with familiar ones.

12 hours goes by and as the evening comes to a close, the hard work is presented for everyone to see. And as I stood there, trying to hold back the tears because I wish I had such books to read as a kid, I realized what beautiful amazing work they had just done. I know this is not said enough, So thank you to all the Book Dash volunteers that have become an important part in helping us build a reading nation.

I couldn’t be happier that Im working with Book Dash in using the funds collected from my project to buy their books. Book Dash has hosted several events around the country with the most recent one being at the Goethe-Institut with volunteers from  Sub-Saharan Africa as well as German author Kirstin Boie and illustrator Barbara Scholz.

I recently asked  my nephew and his crew (who can be seen in the picture) to stop playing their daily after school soccer match on the streets and come and read with me. I have to admit it took a bit of convincing but after I sold my soul top the devil,  I had the boys seated on our stoep, with the little Book Dash books.

Boy o boy, I didnt know what I had gotten myself into. The boys loved the books! They smiled and laughed as they tried to read the books and even narrated the stories by just looking at the pretty illustrations.5 minutes turned into 30 minutes of jokes, new lessons learnt and before we knew it, the scorching Ngwelezane sun had said its goodbyes without us noticing. As the street lights came on (this in the township is like the siren that tells all kids that its time to go home) and all of them said their “sharp, shos”, one of the boys asked “Nak’sasa uzobukhona futhi Anti?” (You will be here again tomorrow right Aunty? ) At that moment I knew that I had done my bit for the day

For those tech savvy friends, you can download all the books via the Google Play Store

Your pace or mine

Running like any sports offers more than just  being outside and the opportunity to burn a few calories while trying to convince people that you are doing what you love. Running has taught me so much, not only about the sports itself but about life too.

For the past month I went back home to visit my family in South Africa. I was (almost) surprised at how at any given opportunity I would tell anything and anyone that cared to listen about my running project (those who know me well, will tell you that I do tend to talk a lot, in my older brothers famous words “ngagwinya impempe” meaning I’m like someone who swallowed a whistle).It was lovely seeing my family, who always reassure me that Im on the right path no matter how much I doubt myself.

Being back home and participating in 2 half marathons as part of my training plan afforded me the opportunity to see old running friends, catch up and of course recharge my batteries. It’s not easy attempting to run a marathon simply because life always has a way of getting in the way. I know it sounds weird, but its true. Try planning something that needs a commitment of about 4-6 months and you will see how your plan will change because of how “stuff” has come up. In order to run a marathon you must train, you must eat well, you must look after yourself and above all you must make the time, no mater how busy and demanding it all gets. From time to time you also have to learn to say no.. No to late night outs and fun things that require you to sleep until past 14:00 the next day in order to feel human again (well at least that’s how long it takes these days to cure my hangovers)

In between being a student and still trying to find my feet in another country, I’ve realized that when it comes to life (and running) you can never wait for the perfect conditions to get something done. On some mornings your training plan says 22km and your body says “if you get out of bed Im leaving you”, but you have to keep pushing. And sometimes when your legs cant anymore and all you have is will then you keep pushing. Running, like life, is about telling yourself to just put one foot in front of the other and to keep going… never stopping until you reach the finish line. Some runs, like days, are better than others and from sometimes its about taking things one day or one run at a time.

We can’t all be runners and we shouldnt all be runners(please dont as this would mean that I would really come last in every race)  but we can apply the same principles we learn from sports to any part of our lives. That it’s not a about who finishes first but rather that you finish, that you do you and run YOUR race at YOUR pace.  We are all destined for different things and very often we concentrate so much on what others are doing that we forget that we have our own race to run… which is at the end of the day the most important.

So next time you think of comparing yourself to someone else, ask yourself “your pace or mine?”



Charity begins at home

A lot of people have been asking me why I answer, why not!

I think I have always had a love for running. As a kid, I was very thin (pity thats no longer the case) so this made it very easy and it helped with another sports I loved so much-hockey.

My dad used to call me “Maphephuka” which loosely translated means “the one that gets blown away”. But hips and a pot belly have ruined my chances of being a swimsuit model now

Fast forward to 2 and a half years ago when I ran my first 3kms after a long break and almost died (Did I mention it felt like someone was choking me?). But why did I decide to run again?

Well simply out of sibling rivalry. My little brother (as I like to call him even though Im only a year older) was walking around like he owned the world after he finished his first marathon and I needed to wipe that smirk off his face (I still haven’t managed to though as he still is better than me).

My younger brother is really good at a lot of things and I admire him for that. When he puts his mind to something, he goes all out, no matter what. He also has the ability to make even the hardest things (like finishing the Comrades ultra marathon twice) look like a walk in the park. Secretly (please don’t tell him this), I’ve always looked up to him,( both figuratively and literally) as he is much taller than I am.  Even since then, he has been my “coach” and my go to for running advice. His comments are often witty but he is very encouraging and I’m sure that on the day of my race he will be my biggest supporter.

So when he started running and I was watching him be a better and healthier version of himself, I had to join in on the fun. I did my first half marathon with him and even though I arrived a good hour after him, he looked like he was proud. Now both my older sister and brother run (some more than others). My sister did her first marathon with me and its been lovely been able to run with the support of your family and friends.

Speaking of support, have you made your donation yet?