From both sides now: an athlete’s perspective on working at a water point

Joni Mitchell sang a very popular song about love: “From both sides now”. The lyrics “ I’ve looked at love from both sides now”, might just as well be translated into “I’ve looked at races from both sides now” for the purpose of this article.

As athletes, we sometimes forget about the hard work that goes into the organising of a race. We take for granted the fact that everything; from the entries, toilets, water points and traffic marshals, will be in place. We bargain on the fact that there will be a well-stocked water point every 3 km, and that there will be in fact water, cold drinks etc. What we often forget, (and by “we” I count myself as well!), is that the helpers at a water point are volunteers, who have no control over how much water there are, how cold the water is, etc. They are there to serve, and make the race more pleasurable for the athletes.

I’ve had the privilege to be a helper at a few S4J water points, and being an athlete myself who has run countless races over the years, I think I can give an accurate view of a race from both sides of the water table. 😉

For the sake of brevity I’ve used the following abbreviations: WPH = water point helper
A = athlete

1. Early morning
A: Get up at 4h30, get ready, drive to race, do all the necessary things to line up for a 6h00 start.

WPH: Get up at 3h30, get ready to be at water point at around 4h00. Put up tables, stack cups, pour cold drink into said cups; break big blocks of ice into plastic containers; cut open countless boxes of water sachets and throw them into the container. Ensure that all helpers know what to do, where to stand (out of athletes’ way!) etc.

2. Start of race
A: Start running when the gun sounds

WPH: Depending on which point in the race your water point is, get ready to serve. Might take up to 40 minutes of waiting.

3. Water point (first round)
A: Get to table, grab some water sachets (or 2 or 4, or on some cases 8!), maybe drink some Coke. Thank or don’t thank the WPH. May complain about water not being cold enough. Drop sachets in bin, next to bin, or in the vicinity of the water table. Carry on with race.

WPH: For the next 30-40 minutes, some or all of this happens: stand and hand out sachets. Pour cold drinks. Hand out sachets. Again. Explain why all the sachets aren’t icy cold. Pour some more cold drinks. Try to keep the plastic container with the water sachets cold with extra ice, which you buy from the nearby garage. Use the rake to gather the discarded sachets together. Start picking up rubbish. If it is a double lap race (10/21 km, or 21/42 km), get ready to do it all over again in the next hour.

4. Water point (second round)
A: See point 3. May complain louder about the lack of water, or the coldness thereof. Discard sachets anywhere near the water point. Or not even near. Carry on with race.

WPH: See point 3. Give up trying to rake the sachets out of the way of the athletes. There are too many (sachets, and sometimes athletes..). Try to explain that it is not your fault that there is no water left, or that the water that is left, is not cold.

5. After the race.
A: Finish the race. Collect medal. Rest. Go to club gazebo and complain loudly about the lack of water at some races, and the fact that you almost fell while slipping on “so many!” water sachets that are just lying on the ground at the water point. Go home.

WPH: After the last athlete has passed the water point, start to pack up, clean up, pick up, rake etc. Ensure that the area around the water point is completely clean. Chase a few stray water sachets that the wind blew into drains and neighboring gardens. Fold up the tables and pack away. Go home.

Although I may have over-dramatised some of the negative things happening, I must also say that most of the athletes that go through a water point are friendly, say “thank you”, and try to throw their sachets in the bin. When running a race, I make a point of thanking the helpers, and try to throw my waste in one of the bins.

I wish every athlete gets a chance to serve at a water point. It is very rewarding to help, and also a great way of giving back.

-Annelize Hietbrink, S4J Ladies Captain


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7 Biblical Reasons to Exercise

I came across this inspiring article written by a gentleman called Fritz Chery. Have a read. Comrades will be a mere pup for you after this (ha, ha)! I especially like no.6.

It is always good to exercise to be prepared for anything that God calls us to do, but Christians must be careful.

While there are many biblical and health reasons for exercising, always watch out for vanity because if you are not careful exercising can be a huge idol in a believers life, especially when it comes to bodybuilding and weightlifting.

Are there benefits to exercising and can Christians do it? Yes, but should that be a believers main focus? Of course not because godliness and spiritual training is more important than physical training.

1. We honor God by taking care of our bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Corinthians 10:31. So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Romans 12:1. Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

2. It is valuable, but of course it is not more valuable than godliness.

1 Timothy 4:8. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

3. Our bodies are members of Christ.

1 Corinthians 6:15. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!

4. To discipline yourself.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Proverbs 25:28. A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

5. It will help with gluttony.

Philippians 3:19. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

Proverbs 25:16. If you find honey, eat just enough too much of it, and you will vomit.

Proverbs 23:2. And put a knife to your throat If you are a man of great appetite.

6. It will help with laziness.

Ecclesiastes 10:18. Laziness leads to a sagging roof; idleness leads to a leaky house.

Proverbs 12:24. Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor.

Proverbs 10:4. Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent makes rich.

Proverbs 10:5. He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.

7. You will be healthy.

3 John 1:2. Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.

Other benefits of exercising

You will be a positive example for your kids in this slothful generation.
To be physically healthy for doing God’s will.
It helps you sleep better.
Exercise reduces stress and fatigue.
To stay attractive for your spouse.
It helps with high blood pressure.

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Comrades entries now Closed!

You will not believe it but the Comrades entries are Closed. We notice on the Comrades web that the sale of the entries this year was unprecedented.

In the history of the Comrades Marathon, entries have never been snapped up as quickly as they are going for next year’s Up Run.”

  Read more here

So S4J team, we do hope you have secured your number.

Comrades and the whole experience has been so good to the S4J brand in the years gone by. We have been able to do so much good for the people of Sudan:

  • We have been able to fund the drilling of a borehole in Nimule, Southern South Sudan
  • We have sent 100 000 Sudanese dialect Bibles to the refugee camp in Kakuma in July of last year
  • We were able to assist our Children’s Fund partners with funds for their upliftment work in the Nuba Mountains
  • And this year we will be able to assist the Beja People of North Eastern Sudan with Social Upliftment Programs.

This season is going to be super exciting as we are planning three recruitment drives at races and we are extending our presence into the corporate world as well.

We wish all our friends at S4J a safe and injury-free training program up to Comrades. We promise you…we will see you on the road.

Warm Regards – Eddie

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S4J – love of running for a greater cause

The S4J (Sudan4Jesus) has just released a short video to share the story of how elite runner, Renier Grobler combines his love for Jesus and running for a greater cause. Renier is part of the S4J team of athletes and buddies to raise funds to help the people of Sudan and South Sudan.

Renier in top gear at the Comrades Marathon. He is part of the S4J team that runs for a greater cause.

Renier is an elite athlete. In the past four years he achieved two top 20 positions in the Comrades Marathon and two top 10 positions in the Om die Dam 50 km marathon.

To WATCH the S4J video, click on this link.

To view the various projects the S4J is involved with, click on this link.

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The INSPIRING STORY of Lorinda – a beacon of hope at S4J at Triple Challenge

Actually how God used every person in this story was inspirational. Yet when it REALLY mattered, this woman’s courageous heart encouraged a remarkable breakthrough on an amazing journey.

The THREE men, Shane van Dam, Louis Malan and Gavin Pansegrouw at the start to run THREE marathons in 30 hours at THREE different venues.

Last year Gavin Pansegrouw contacted Norman at the S4J office with the idea of doing the Triple Challenge as a fundraiser for S4J. By now it is HISTORY…the S4J at Triple Challenge happened and exceeded expectations as a fundraiser for the Water for Sudan project that forms part of the S4J.

The S4J at Triple Challenge consisted of a TEAM of athletes, running THREE marathons at THREE different venues, in 30 hours. These marathons were 1) Wonderpark Akasia Marathon on the Saturday morning 2) Ottosdal Nite Race (marathon) on the Saturday afternoon / evening, and 3) Johnson Crane Hire Marathon on the Sunday morning.

There were THREE athletes that signed up for the THREE marathons, i.e. Gavin Pansegrouw, Louis Malan and Shane van Dam. The rest of the team consisted of Gavin’s parents Jake (driver for the journey) and Christine, Lorinda Engelbrecht (Gavin’s girl-friend), Vanessa Malan and Norman Johnson (from the S4J office).

The team gathered at Gavin’s residence in Randfontein on the Friday, ready to get up at 2:00 on the Saturday morning to travel to the Wonderpark Akasia Marathon on the Saturday morning. The race had a huge attendance and was exciting to experience as the FIRST leg of the S4J at Triple Challenge.

After the Wonderpark Akasia Marathon: the group consisted of Shane van Dam, Louis & Vanessa Malan, Norman Johnson, Jake and Christine Pansegouw, Gavin Pansegrouw and Lorinda Engelbrecht.

After the race, the team moved on to Ottosdal Nite Race. We arrived on a lovely sunny afternoon, meeting up with quite a number of other S4J athletes, friends and acquaintances. Shortly after the marathon started, an incredible storm brewed with strong winds, rain and thunder. Afterwards Gavin shared that at times he was really concerned for their safety.

S4J at Triple Challange team seeting up camp at the venue at Ottosdal.
Group foto withLorinda Engelbrect, Jan & Benita Coetzee from Warden, Gavin Pansegrouw, Jaco de Jager, Norman Johnson, Shane van Dam and Louis Malan.

Lorinda also joined the S4J at Triple challenge team during this race. The support team waited for the athletes in soaking rain.

It was amazing to await Gavin and Lorinda at the finish line. For Lorinda to have finished this marathon in these harsh conditions with a personal best time, was just phenomenal.

Lorinda completing the Ottosdal Nite race in a personal best time for her for a marathon.
Gavin and Lorinda extremely happy about having a wonderful run in extreme conditions.

Right then, things turned to the DRAMATIC side. What seemed like hours, with everybody now EXHAUSTED, we were driving through non stop rain. The alternator of the kombi were giving problems resulting that we could not drive this almost 300 km journey faster than 60 km per hour.

This seemed like a disaster. Where the whole team we’re supposed to move straight to Benoni for the Johnson Crane Hire Marathon, the proverbial wheels seemed to have come off. It seemed that we had to travel all the way back to Gavin’s residence in Randfontein and that the THIRD of the marathons of the S4J at Triple Challenge were just NOT going to happen.

It was right then that Lorinda about 2 am in the morning made this BOLD statement. “We SAID that we would do ALL THREE marathons…therefor we WILL run all three marathons!” By the time we got to Gavin’s residence, a DECISION had to be made. It  was this: THREE of the team: Gavin, Lorinda and Norman got into Gavin’s car, head of to Benoni and were in time for the Johnson Crane Marathon.

The LAST man standing…


Gavin ran and completed the marathon. What bravery of these two love-birds (Gavin and Lorinda) to have seen out the journey. What an amazing privilege to have been with them ALL the way.

Lorinda still tired the next morning after having ran the Ottosdal Marathon the previous evening and then during right through the night to the Johnson Crane Marathon. Yet her loyalty to Gavin and the S4J just beyond description.
We did it! Praise you Jesus. Gavin and Lorinda in high spirits after the S4J at Triple Challenge was successfully completed.

One other S4J athlete, Jaco de Jager, al ran all three of the marathons that formed part of the S4J at Triple Challenge, but that story needs to be told in another article.

The S4J at Triple Challenge fundraiser for Water for Sudan.

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