Wayne Holmes - 2008

Long time Empangeni runner who has been living in Durban the past few years yet remained a Umhlathuze athletic club member writes:
Having grown up on the South Coast between the towns of Umkomaas and Scottburgh towns in the late seventies, was only one family car which my Dad took to work. So the only way to see friends, girlfriends, go to the beach, ect was to walk or run. It was at least 5kms north or 12 kms south to the action - you guessed - we lived near the Greenpoint lighthouse at Clansthal.. Therefore, being active and fit has always been part of our family. Whilst at school I played captained the 1st rugby team, played cricket and did athletics - which included 800m, 1500m, 3000m and cross country running. After school and on weekends we surfed our hearts out.
Having left school in 1976, we were "obliged" to go to the army. Well, our year - 1977 - was the first year that, on having "min dae" (90 days) to go, were told that we now had to do an additional year. This was broadcast over the radio on 30/11/77 on the 13.00 news. Not too many happy campers !!!! The 2,4 km run was always enjoyable for me. Having left the forces at the end of 1978, I did some temporary work before joining the Durban Corporation in 1980 as a trainee lifeguard. Here, the lifestyle appealed to me - fresh air, keeping fit and being healthy. Whilst working here, I was promoted up to the position of principal lifeguard by 1983.
In this time we completed in many fitness events and one of the annual competitions was the "Durban Lifeguard Endurance event" held at the beginning of December each year just before the start of the December holiday season. Being as competitive as I am, I duly rained for this each year - 1980 - 7th, 1981 - 4th, 1982 - 3rd, 1983 - 2nd - being beaten by a run up the beach by fellow lifeguard Graham Holm (this event involved a swim from North beach to South beach - 1,5 kms, a beach run from South beach to the North pier at the harbour entrance and back, the a "surf-o-plane" (black lilo with to ear handles at the front) paddle from South beach back to North beach). With the emphasis on fitness, it was a real challenge to complete to enter the Scottburgh to Brighton Sea and Sand Marathon - 46 kms on the beach!!! I did this in 1982 and 1983 finishing well up the field. In 1983 the first ultra distance triathlon was held in Durban. This was a 5 km seas swim from Addington to African beach (Now Tekhweni beach near the Umgeni river, followed by a 100 kms cycle from there to Tinley Manor turnoff and back, followed by a 42.2 km standard marathon (3 x 14 kms laps) from African beach down to Virginia airport and back. I completed this in 9 hrs finishing in 22nd place.

In the meantime I had joined Marine Lifesaving club at Addington beach (today I am a life member there). In 1983, I became part of the surfboat rowing team as the stroke (the rear most oarsman setting the crew’s rowing pace). Our crew went on to represent Central Natal for the next five years, missing out on Springbok colours in 1989 to Durban Surf by a half boat length in the final selection races in East London. In early 1984, I joined STS, part of Unitrans Transport Holding, being stationed at the Illovo depot in Winklespruit. Also during the mid 80s - corporate relays (5 or 6 runners doing 6 to 8 kms each) were a big thing with our company participating in every race for four to five years. Yours truly was selected as the Company runner of the year in 1990!!!

Running was considered vital to staying fit and in shape for rowing. In 1986 I decided to run a standard marathon in preparation for doing a family challenge - the Comrades. Believe this if you can - I drove from Toti up to Empangeni on my Yamaha XT500 and did the Empangeni marathon finishing in a time of 3 hrs 15 mins - my best time ever !!! The route went out to Owen Sithole College and back as it does now. Whilst residing in Toti, after watching the 1987 Comrades Marathon on TV the whole day, I was convinced that if the guys that cruise in at the back can finish this race, then I have to have a go. I joined Toti AC, registered and ran my first Comrades in 1988 finishing in 10 hrs 36 mins at the then Jan Smuts Stadium (now Harry Gwala Stadium) in PMB. Well the bug had bitten. Job commitments took me to Sezela, then Stanger, however, as a Toti AC member, in 1989 I ran and finished in 9 hrs 25 mins and 1991 in 9 hrs 16 mins - the theory being that you have to better your previous run time. By this time I was resident in Wartburg, but still a Toti AC member (In late 1989 I had a bad car accident and damaged my right ankle, so did not run in 1990).

Having moved to Empangeni in late 1991, it was not until 1996, as a member of the old Empangeni AC, that I attempted the "Big C" again. Since then I have done 12 consecutive runs, obtaining my permanent green number - 14160, in 2002. total Comrades entered, started and finished is now 15. Times have varied from these to 11 hrs 52 mins in recent years. In the last few years I have come to run with UAC greats like Jan Badenhorst and Peter Bannock, who always been an inspiration to me. I have completed a further two Scottburgh to Brighton Sea and sand Marathons, many standard marathons and other short races in Empangeni/Richards Bay and Durban. Work commitments make other events difficult, but I am still to do - believe or not - a Two Oceans, a Duzi, a Midmar mile. But pride myself in staying fit.

Having moved to Durban in 2001, I still enjoy being an "out of town" UAC member, very proud to wear our new running vest down yonder. I will continue to run as long as I am able to and hope that I can influence my family to join in when they are ready to.

To anyone wanting to start running - Just do it!!! and you will never look back. As for the Big C - Make the decision to enter, do the training and NEVER GIVE UP !!! Focus on the end result and keep moving forwards. Remember that it becomes a mind game in the end and strong minds do eventually succeed and finish.

I am often asked why I remain a member at a club in Empangeni when I reside in Durban. Well, I suppose it keeps me in touch with my family history. Both my grandfathers were early pioneers in the town. On my mother's side, her grandfather owned "Wilton Park" sugar farm at the end of Union Street. Her father, Colin James Benjamin Andrews (married to Mavis, and later to Nancy New-March - her son, Barry still lives in Empangeni) ran the farm for many years, later selling it to Tongaat Huletts in approx 1975 (not sure of the exact date) and it was renamed "Scotts Properties". He later died in 1977. There is a street named after my great grandfather called "Andrews Rd" in Empangeni. On my father's side, his father (my grandfather)William Montrose Holmes (nicknamed "Monty")was married to Irenie, ran Mill Farm that sent cane to the old ZSM mill where Bell Equipment is now located. They stayed in the house on the right of the Mtuba Road as you go north out of Empangeni. They later retired down the south coast at Anerley, near Hibberdene.

My parents, Kenneth Montrose Holmes and Margaret Grace Andrews, both grew up in and around Empangeni and were later married in 1958. As a child, I can remember many holidays on the farm at Wilton Park and at the "cottage" in Richards Bay - this was located on the ridge overlooking the bay. It was two houses down from "Davidsons" at the end of the ridge, unfortunately the cottage was expropriated by the council, along with three other properties along the same ridge, many years ago and is now a lovely park that you can braai, relax under the trees, kids can play on the swings, and enjoy the view of the harbour.

Older citizens like James McIlrath's Dad, Kalvin and his brother Norton will remember the families well.