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Voices

Running with no-one chasing him

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It took me a while to comprehend what he was telling me. Because it made no sense to me that anyone would choose to run 100km in one day when there was no-one chasing them. But given that I had been friends with Selwyn Kahlberg for 37 years and in all that time, I had never heard him joke, I knew he meant what he was saying.

Selwyn had decided to run 100km in one day to raise money for a cause.

The upside was that he didn’t ask me to join him.

What made him do this? “All runners want to run further or faster. Faster is getting more challenging so I was stuck with further.” It turns out that in about May, Selwyn set his mind on running 100km. He chose the Malka Ella (Fertility Fund) as a cause as it has a long standing relationship with the running fraternity and the work that it does spoke to him.

The Malka Ella Fund was started in 2001. In these 20 years, it has assisted in more than 550 treatments, including IVF, surrogacies, and adoptions. In fact, more than 260 Jewish babies have been born through its endeavours.

At a time when the community has lost so many souls to COVID-19, what better cause is there than one that assists in bringing some back into this world.

I thought that I couldn’t be prouder. But then he ran it. And I was.

Sunday, 3 October, was the day of the run. Selwyn set off at 05:30 with a few brave runners that would alternate throughout the day. Selwyn’s wife, Robyn, his family, support teams, refreshment stations, drivers, and runners would keep him company, keep him motivated, and keep everyone up to date on his progress.

According to Selwyn, “The hardest part was from kilometre 53 to 58. We were in the back end of Benoni, in the midday heat. I was very sore and basically just shuffling along with a grimace. Cars were speeding past on a narrow road and we even received some abuse. At that stage, it was just about getting to the next kilometre. I had some robust conversations with Hashem at that point. Fortunately, in Malka Ella, I had a very compelling “why” for my run which helped me to keep going.”

There were also many highlights along the way. “I was totally overwhelmed by many unexpected runners and supporters who travelled long distances from home just to support me on the route. The vibe in the last kilometre and coming into the finish was way beyond expectation.”

The commitment and the cause captured the hearts of many. Ahuva Raff and her family happened to pass Selwyn as he completed the day. “I was at this crossroad with my family, when Selwyn and his group of runners were crossing,” she said. “I don’t know Selwyn, but when I was explaining to my kids about his run and why he was running, I felt so emotional, especially with my four children in the back, one just a few weeks old. How someone can run a mile for precious children! This made me realise what an amazing cause it was!”

Selwyn raised more than R100 000 for Malka Ella.

Initiatives have a strange way of being born. And I have little doubt that Sunday saw the birth of an event that will become an annual one.

And whereas I have little intention of running any part of it, I’m fully prepared to check my tyres once again, fill my tank, and head off to Benoni in search of the guy who is running with no-one chasing him.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Beulah Esakov

    Oct 7, 2021 at 4:38 pm

    Selwyn I’m so proud of you! Your heart is in the right place. You make things happen . Well done

  2. Christo

    Oct 29, 2021 at 10:38 am

    Excellent article and superb achievement. Well done SK, a not surprising outcome revealing the focus and discipline and determination that have always defined your successes.

    Not too bad for an old fella.

    PS. Benoni is a tough place ne!

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