Lockdown hits Oxford Striders hard

When Ramaphosa announced in May that people could once again exercise outside, many breathed a sigh of relief.

For the many sports clubs in East London, however, the struggle is still real.

Oxford Striders member Helen Pretorius said while their club had been luckier than some, it was still a struggle.

“Oxford Striders has been fortunate in that all our ‘staffing’ is voluntary, so besides our cleaner, we haven’t had to pay any other staff during lockdown.

“That said, there is still your day-to-day bills to pay,” she said.

One of the biggest hits to clubs like Oxford Striders has been the cancellation of any events for the forseeable future, which has put a major dent in finances.

“We do foresee that we will be losing revenue from races later in the year and this will impact greatly on the club.

“There is also the revenue our clubhouse generates during the week from our regular club members and the public in our bar that contributed to our monthly income, which is now lost,” Pretorius said.

All is not lost, however, and Oxford Striders has been finding creative ways to keep its members active and entertained during the lockdown.

“We have kept the East London running community pretty busy with the assortment of virtual races we have hosted via our Facebook page,” said Pretorius.

“We have hosted a SA Backyard 42km marathon, Striders Relay Challenge, a Trifecta Team Challenge, a 90km Covid Marathon and we continue to host our weekly Caltex Time Trial Challenge.

“All this is free and is thanks to our fabulous members who have jumped in and assisted with coordinating these events for the athletes.

“It may seem pretty easy to host these virtual races, but believe me there is a lot of admin that goes into these challenges.”

The shared struggle has also helped foster a stronger sense of community, not just among members but with other clubs as well.

“What I’ve enjoyed the most is how most of our East London Clubs have joined in and participated in these events. It really is fabulous when friendly rivalry is embraced by so many,” Pretorius said.

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