TIME TO SAY GOODBYE…
Margaret and I have relocated to Cape Town and I would like to use this letter to say my “Goodbyes”.
But first allow me to go back some time…
My first direct contact with the Magnolia Club was in April 2003 at the venue of the Loskop Ultra. I was running in Tuks colours and had just completed the 50km. Exhausted and hungry my friend and Magnolia member, Gert Pelser, told me to come along to the Magnolia tent. “But I am not a member” I reasoned. He just laughed. When everyone at the tent greeted me so friendly and I was sitting in a chair enjoying a complimentary worsrolletjie and a cool drink, I just knew this club was special.
So as soon as I reached my objective of running 10 Comrades in Tuks colours that year (I was employed in the UP School of Accountancy), I joined Magnolia which heralded the start of the best and most rewarding years of my running career.
To find out just how special the Magnolia club is, you have to be a member and let yourself be drawn into its activities and the unique spirit of camaraderie. Meeting at the clubhouse, the Sunday Runs, the Comrades experiences (goodie bag packing, route support, aches and pains party, Comrades prizes), regular braais, the newsletters, social evenings, the club tent, awards evenings, our own half marathon, the Business Relay, the Christmas Run, the Lawley St lights walk, as well as many other special events and happenings – not forgetting the effective and efficient registration for membership and big races, they all provide the mix for success of a modern day running club.
Magnolia has found a unique balance between engaging its members to participate in events, without making them feel obliged to do something they are not comfortable with – or cannot accommodate. If you are happy to join the Sunday club runs: you are always welcome. If not: nobody will blame you for not coming or try to convince you to attend. If you have not socialised at the regular braai evening for six months and then do visit once, you are just as welcome as if you were a regular visitor.
The success of also drawing younger members has allowed the Club to grow in numbers – especially in recent years. When meeting at the club tent before a race one can literally draw from the energy of the younger runners in particular – where the talk evolves around new records and fast times. This is balanced by talk of records to be set by the older members who have done it all and set records in different ways. When five older Magnolians meet one can almost assume that they share between them the experience of 100 Comrades races. How special – because there are usually more than five of them!
The Good Book tells us that here is a time for everything – and so I guess for me there is a time to be a Magnolia member and then a time to be a member of another club…
With a particular cold, wet and windy winter in the Cape I have, when running, slowly adjusted to the first two – cold and wet. I am not sure how long it will take to fully accept the last element. But I already experienced the thrill of facing gale force winds and to complete a planned training session in spite of the wind. If we runners want to run, we normally do…
A huge thank you to the Magnolia Management and all its members past and present. May the Good Lord keep you all safe, strong and healthy so that you can keep enjoying the sport we all love so much.
I started a draft of this letter by naming some of my closer friends and some that have done more than others to establish and develop this club, but soon discarded this idea. Everyone I met at and through the club added to my special and precious experiences. A big thank you and the now “banned” hug to all of you.
I had planned to sponsor a Sunday club run with refreshments and some special treats to say “Goodbye” to all my running friends – instead we ended up “sneaking” out of Pretoria with our special travelling permit and masks… But I guess that is how life is. It happens while you make other plans!
Run well and keep running. Look after the Club - it is a real treasure in the changing fortunes of time. Appreciate those who give so freely of their time to manage the club and its activities. Please greet me if you run past me on a future race – I may not wear a Magnolia shirt, but in my heart I am still a proud Magnolian.