An integral part of what the S4J do is to be involved with road races. We aim to be present as S4J at a race monthly. This may be in the form of the water-point, photo shoot, or a combination of that. Our main focus as a fundraising initiative is the Comrades Marathon.
This forms part of a series of articles on the S4J. This is article 3 of the series.
At the S4J we were blessed by a multitude of athletes during the past few years. The LOVE, FRIENDSHIP and even SUPPORT from athletes are amazing. One of the ways through which we connect with athletes is S4J photo-shoots. This simply means that we take photos of athletes and post them afterward on social media platforms like Facebook.
The positive feedback from athletes indicates to the S4J team the perceived value of how we serve athletes through our photo-shoots. The S4J team takes pics of athletes at between 15 to 20 races per year. We then sort this later and for example, post it on Facebook.
Most of these pics can be found on the Facebook page of Norman Johnson. Norman has journeyed with a vision for the people of Sudan and South Sudan for the almost past 22 years. He also journeyed with many athletes since the start of the S4J in 2010. From time to time other photographers like Eddie Howden and Allie van Niekerk have also taken pics on behalf of the S4J.
To do a photo-shoot requires rising early morning, with equipment ready, positioning yourself at good spots for taking pics, connecting with many athletes as they run past. After the photoshoot comes many hours of checking every photo, selecting most of them for posting on Facebook. The whole process can literally take days. Between 2000 and 4000 (sometimes almost double that number) photos are taken at a race.
After all the photos are scanned and prepared to post, they have to be sorted into albums. Every album is allocated information like e catchy title that would make it easy for athletes to identify and even find the pics. Other information is added like some information on the various S4J projects with an invitation for athletes to connect with that. A request is also stated that, when the person KNOW an athlete, they tag such a person. In that way, as many as possible athletes could be made aware of the availability of their photo(s). Facial recognition technology is often very helpful on Facebook. Sometimes though, the wrong person could be tagged that may upset sensitive viewers. For many athletes, the S4J photo-shoots have been helpful though. It remains a privilege to serve in this way.
I am sitting here in the SSNET offices looking out of the window and thinking: “How do you train in this weather? How do you breathe?”
Since I have not run for a while I would not know! ha ha
Here are some tips that I thought would assist all our brave S4J family runners when running in the Gauteng heat (Courtesy Runner’s World):
Even when it’s cool enough that you’re barely sweating, your muscles are getting less oxygen and therefore are less efficient—an important factor in longer races.
Instead of avoiding heat during training, help your body adapt to it. Within a short time your system will become more efficient, as it learns to anticipate the rise in core temperature.
When heat and humidity start to creep higher, it’s best to slow down. Your performance relative to the competition will often be better (though slower) if you remain conservative.
If you are working on acclimating to warm temperatures expected on race day, remember to back off two days prior to the competition to make sure you’re not overstressing your body.
Hydrate wisely and don’t create dangerous imbalances by not using the right electrolyte supplements. Train to consume more liquids to build resistance to dehydration.
Now that we have you running, for those of you who have joined the S4J fundraising initiative for the 2020 Comrades, good luck with your fundraising efforts. Remember, if you do not ask, the answer will always be NO!
Published on: May 31, 2019 | Last Updated: May 31, 2019 6:21 PM EDT
It’s an 89-kilometre race at least 15 years in the making, perhaps a lifetime, for one Owen Sound woman.
“It felt like a calling,” Andy Foster said. “I think I am supposed to run this.”
Foster leaves Saturday to race in the Comrades Marathon in South Africa. It’s the worlds largest and oldest ultramarathon. There are 25,000 people expected to run, and the entirety of the race is broadcasted on the nation’s largest television network.
“It’s the Boston (marathon) of South Africa,” said Foster.
Foster lived in Africa for 15 years originally working with the non-governmental organization Samaritan’s Purse. It was there she worked and lived alongside the Beja people, a nomadic group who live primarily in the Eastern Desert crossing the borders of Egypt, northeastern Sudan and into Eritrea.
In support of the Beja, Foster has raised nearly $10,000 from local businesses and sponsors that she will donate to the Al Germaniah hospital in Aswan, Egypt. The money will help pay for corrective eye surgeries.
“Because they live in the desert they (the Beja) get something similar to cataracts, even in the children, the dust and the sun and just having no protection. The surgeries can be very expensive,” Foster said.
When Foster first arrived in Africa a war broke out in northeastern Sudan. She was relocated from the southern part of the country to help provide aid.
“It just happened the Beja were the people in that area. They’re nomadic, and that was sort of their area. All the sudden you have all these rebel soldiers and now the Beja can’t move. We saw a lot of death and a lot of really hard things,” Foster said.
Over time Foster and her husband moved on to other not-for-profits and lived in other African nations, but the Beja remained a constant in her life overseas.
“They just always were where we were, and because they’re nomadic they don’t get the . . . they are not high on the priority list,” Foster said. “They literally live in the middle of nowhere. Medical needs don’t get met.”
Foster said she grew a lot and learned much more during her time in Africa. She said the Beja were very kind and patient as she became accustomed to the different cultures and way of life.
There was a young man named Ali. Foster was surprised to learn he was married with children because he never seemed to spend any time at home. Ali was surprised to see Foster’s husband help with the dishes at camp. One morning Ali took Foster’s light teasing about helping out more with the family chores to heart and decided to make the morning coffee. He told his wife to stay in bed while he started the hours-long ritual that included roasting the beans from scratch. In that time, his wife had gone to her extended family complaining that her husband had gone crazy.
There were the Friday afternoon meetings to which the Beja always arrived late. Foster assumed this was in order to send a message, when in fact, the mostly Muslim community were at prayer.
And there were the jogs. Foster would head out among the conservative Beja people in shorts thinking nothing of the reaction to her immodesty. When a Beja man told her husband he should suggest she wear long pants his response was “why don’t you tell her.”
Foster had a number of stories ready in a moments notice when asked to describe the impact living with the Beja had on her. She learned to speak the language and later was able to apologize and laugh about her small transgressions as she learned the Beja way of life.
Years later when someone asked if she knew anyone who would help raise money for the Beja she decided to take the task on herself.
The decision came to her in the middle of a November run. Now, a mother living in Owen Sound, she asked her family and partner for their blessing. She then asked for help from running coach Tim Wood, and has since spent much of her time putting sneakers to street-top.
Over 1,000 miles since January. Most days she wakes up at 4 a.m. to train.
Foster entered Ottawa’s Winterman marathon to qualify for the Comrades and ended up winning the women’s division in weather quite unlike she can expect to endure running between the South African cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
At first, Foster wanted to raise $1,000. Then $3,000. And now she is nearing her new goal of $10,000 as she embarks after the months of training and fundraising. She has been blown away by the response of local businesses and people who helped her along the way.
“I’m not originally from Owen Sound, but it’s been so amazing,” she said. “I think people know it’s beyond even what I can do myself. I’m not an ultramarathoner or someone who has done this before. I’m a mother. I just felt really called to do it, and I really believe the Beja need help.”
The Comrades Marathon will run on June 9 beginning at 5:30 a.m. local time.
Yes, it is that time of the year that we get cracking again with the preparation for the 2020 Comrades. It’s such an exciting time for us as we search high and low for athletes to join our cause.
We are looking at subscribing again this year approx. 100 athlete’s that have a heart for people and who want to make a difference in their lives. We have four projects which we fund and manage at the moment in the Sudan’s:
Water Project – in partnership with International Aid Services (IAS) in Stockholm, Sweden, to drill boreholes in the Sudan’s.
Bible Project – in partnership with the Bibles for Africa to spread the word of God in Sudan
Children’s Project – Initiative to supply educational equipment to the children in the Nuba Mountains. An Operation Mobilization partnership.
Beja People’s Project – Supply funding for medical procedures for the women and children of the Beja peoples in the Aswan region.
So, are you that person? Do you want to change the world one race at a time? Then give us a call on 071 4622 663 or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you.
We have so much to offer this year. We are looking forward to also share our new Barika Coffee initiative with you. This initiative fits perfectly in with our S4J athlete’s fundraiser as the funding is used in the same way.
We are looking so forward to experiencing this year with you!!!
Ever wondered what it takes to post so many pictures on Facebook after a race?
Well, first Norman needs to click for at least four hours at a rate of 15 pics a minute consistently for the duration of the race.
Then he uses approx 4 days to edit and post all the pics on our Facebook page in album format. It is a labour of love and we love doing it for our athletes.
So, the next time you run a race, please visit our Facebook page afterwards and like AND share the photo’s you see. Also leave a comment or two. It will assist us tremendously to spread our cause among the athletes.
Thank you for being such a wonderful and loving crowd. Warmest Regards from the SSNET office.