Sole Destroyer just around the corner

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Popular race tough but scenic

SOLE AIM: The latest edition of the Caltex Sole Destroyer half marathon was launched recently with organisers expecting the popular race to keep on growing. At the launch were runners, from left, Noxolo Sojola, Lwandlekazi Nkontso, Roxanne Lands, Steve Bruce, Bulelwa Macozoma and Eugene Birch (Birch Bruce Accountants) Picture: THANDEKA NTLONTI

FOR 25 years and still going strong, the Caltex Sole Destroyer half marathon has tested the endurance and stamina of Border athletes on the tough but scenic route through Horseshoe Valley.

It’s all systems go for this year’s challenge on September 17 when the 21km and the newer 9km Sole Teaser is run.

The Sole Destroyer, hosted by Oxford Striders, is a race named after legendary East London runner Chris Sole. Known for his outstanding participation in races, coaching of many top athletes and being considered one of South Africa’s all-time great runners, Sole did it all barefoot.

He still holds the record for the Table Mountain Race in Cape Town which he won 13 times.

“I want to wish all the participants the best of luck for the preparations and actual race day. This is a challenging race with many climbs, descents and spectacular views – savour every moment.

“It is a challenging though beautiful event that you will remember for a long time. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did when I was exploring the area to establish the route,” Sole said.

At 12.5km, athletes are confronted with a leg-jarring descent followed by a relatively flat and fast section through East London’s suburbs until at 18.5km, they reach the final sting in the tail – the climb up Willasdale Drive.

In just three years, the race has grown from 383 finishers in 2014 to 702 last year and the organisers are anticipating more growth this year with Caltex sponsoring T-shirts for the first 1000 entries in the 21km and the first 300 in the 9km race.

Caltex chief executive Clive Berlyn, a runner himself, said the company was proud of its long-standing association with the Sole Destroyer.

“Our support is aimed at giving athletes a professionally organised and enjoyable race experience and at making sure their families and supporters have a great day out in these beautiful surroundings.

“We are thrilled to see how the organisers have embraced our partnership and that we have been able to contribute to growing this event to its current premier stature,” Berlyn said.

Young Oxford Striders athlete Vusumzi Zondo said he was extremely excited about the big race coming up.

“I’ve been preparing very hard for the race. I train three times a week,” said the 22-year-old athlete.

The Sole Destroyer has a legend of its own – Sharon Eldridge, who has run the 21km race for 24 years. She said she was all set for September 17.

“These days I don’t really put in too much effort because I’m not competitive any more, I just run for fun.

“To the participants – I would say be careful of the first half; it’s tough. There’s a lot of hills, so take it easy, pace yourself and then you can run the second half a lot stronger,” Eldridge said.

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