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Words: Tori Leckie, www.fitchicksandfastwomen.com | Photos: YMCA / KZN Media

Hurray holla FOR

This past weekend’s YMCA’s Trail Challenge was a first on the KZN trail running calendar, but boy, was it great! Taking place

at Living Earth Farms, outside Ballito and just a stone's throw from central Durban, the race entailed three glorious race routes of 5, 10 and 20 km, with 100% of the proceeds going to the YMCA.

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The race routes were on Holla Trails, which as anyone from KZN will tell you comprise this incredible network of awesome trails for both mountain bikers and runners. The routes entailed

I started off the race at a leisurely, if not lazy, pace, catching up with friends, gossiping about people and places, faces and races, and then at the 10 km mark shifted gears and broke some sweat. The trail was just perfect, undulating and winding with ground that wasn’t so technical that absorbing the stunning 360-degree surrounds didn’t result in a face plant (an oft occurrence with me).

There always seems to be an ethereal mist that rises by morning, as the sun breaks through in all her glory. My last visit had been an altogether scarier affair when, as a mountain-biking novice, I took to the rocky trails and tried my hardest not to appear too much like a girl.

The few water tables were brimming with jelly sweets, but the crème de la crème was the divine strawberry juice, provided by the local strawberry farm. What a wonderful sales technique, given that I left the race with more than a few punnets to take home!

quintessential African red-sand single-trail tracks through open fields and densely packed sugar plantations, with views that took your breath away.

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I ran past a darling young girl and chatted to her briefly. Eleven years old and she was running her first 10 km. ‘What an inspiration,’ I thought, given that most kids her age were probably still home in their pj’s, eyes glued to a screen.

Sitting on the grass for prize-giving and a lucky draw were dozens of smiley faces, basking in that post-trail glow that only us trail junkies know about and enjoying the sunshine of a perfect winter's day. And of course, close to mind was the underlying reason for the race; to raise funds and awareness for the YMCA. Everyone’s familiar with the name but too few really know about the great work they do. The YMCA is the oldest non-profit organisation in the world (it has been active in South Africa since 1865) and the largest youth development non-profit organisation in the world. With the key objective of empowering young people for life, leadership and service, it takes a holistic approach to youth development through four signature programmes. The Y-Zone focuses on after-school life skills and entrepreneurial development, the Y-Health on physical, emotional and spiritual well-being, Y-Justice on advocating for the rights of vulnerable children and youth and lastly Y-Arts, which promotes leadership and social development through arts and culture.

Within greater Durban alone, the YMCA offers: • An incredible after-school programme for kids aged between 6-18, to give them a well-deserved opportunity to grow in different areas of their lives. Some of the kids are supplied with lunch, which is often the only proper meal they have. • The economic entrepreneurial education programme focuses on educating a new generation of entrepreneurs, in a country where unemployment is rife. • The Youth Justice programme is designed to reach young people in conflict with the law and whose social circumstances place them at a high level of risk. • Life skills are also provided to unemployed matriculants, alongside opportunities for work experience with Mr Price. • And finally, they have a fitness centre, with free aerobics classes.

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The work that the YMCA is doing here has a huge impact on the next generation, all underpinned by a number of shared values. One of these, I noticed is UBUNTU. 'Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu', which means, ‘We are who we are because of others'. Very true, is it not? I’d also extend that to the words of Aristotle, who said, ‘We are what we repeatedly do.’ For us dedicated runners, this certainly resonates. The YMCA logo is identified by all; an equilateral triangle that represents body, mind and spirit in equal proportion. Fitting, given that trail running requires this too. No one gets through a race without physical, mental and spiritual / emotional strength. Fitting also that this race was held on Monday, 16 June, national Youth Day.

My sincere thanks to the phenomenal team who pulled this race together. It was a joy to see such a great turnout. • For more information about the event visit www.roag.co.za

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Profile for DO IT NOW Magazine

TRAIL RUNNING: Hurray for holla  

DO IT NOW Magazine, Running. This past weekend’s YMCA’s Trail Challenge was a first on the KZN trail running calendar, but boy, was it great...

TRAIL RUNNING: Hurray for holla  

DO IT NOW Magazine, Running. This past weekend’s YMCA’s Trail Challenge was a first on the KZN trail running calendar, but boy, was it great...