Born 2 Run – a club with an eye on development
05 June 2016
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Brad Brown: This is Old Mutual Live, it’s great to have you with us. It’s time to chat some more running today. It’s an absolute pleasure to welcome our next guest onto the show. They’re doing some amazing things from a development point of view, within the sport of road running in South Africa. They founded an Athletics Club called Born 2 Run. Her husband Dave and herself. Ann Ashworth joins us now, Ann, welcome onto the podcast, thanks for joining us.
Ann Ashworth: Thanks very much for having me.
BB: Ann, how long has Born 2 Run been going now? It’s been a couple of years, you launched with a bang and things have grown steadily since then.
AA: It’s been going for just over two years now. We formally started in September 2013, so we’ve been through two complete seasons and we’re into our third year, so that’s great.
Why we started Born 2 Run
BB: Let’s talk about why it was started, before we get into what you guys are up to and some of the stuff you are doing developmental wise. But what was the thinking behind starting Born 2 Run Athletics?
AA: David and I had just been running for some big clubs previously and we just felt that there wasn’t enough focus on really nurturing athletic talent from a grass root level. Whether you were talking about working with disadvantaged or under privileged athletes or whether you were dealing with athletes who had talent, but didn’t have the time or resources to train properly and compete properly. Just from your normal, everyday Joe Soap sort of category of runner.
We felt that there really just wasn’t enough support for athletes and not enough encouragement for athletes of a more basic level to move forward and reach their full potential and their dreams. Whether that was going for a Comrades Gold or whether it was going for a 10km PB, wherever you were, there just didn’t seem to be enough support to get yourself better.
BB: You guys have had a fair amount of success in the years you’ve been going as well, particularly on the ladies’ side of thing. I think particularly around Comrades, you took the team prize there. You also took the team prize at Oceans 2016. So it’s a young organisation and a young athletics club, but you’re proving you’re on the right track and you’re getting results.
Blessed to have such inspiring female runners
AA: You know, a club really is only as good as its athletes. We are very blessed to have a fantastic team of runners. Our runners are predominantly the female vets category which is where we’re very strong and we’ve just got a lovely ladies team.
The Toyota team, unfortunately stopped running as a team at the beginning of last year and a few of their runners moved across to Born 2 Run, Salomè Cooper, Jalani Basson and Yolande Maclean also joined us at the beginning of last year. We’ve just been so blessed to have them in our ranks because they not only get the results, but they also serve to inspire other athletes to step up.
BB: Ann, I’m interested, particularly on the ladies side of things. There’s been a huge growth of running in that segment of the market. I think the Spar Ladies Race has got a lot to do with it as well. But if you look at, particularly our elite ladies runners, they’re doing really well. You look at how many we’ve got pushing for Olympic spots, it’s in a good place right now.
AA: Definitely I do agree with you. I think the last 3-4 years have just seen a total change in the landscape and I think the work that’s being done by Elana Meyer and Bruce Fordyce, even Team Vitality, trying to get more and more people active. KPMG coming onto the scene and really just stepping up and behind development athletes and female athletes in particular.
There really hasn’t been a better time to be running in South Africa and the increased competition amongst clubs for things like team prizes, greater support offered to elite athletes in particular. More incentive payments, more retainers, it really is such a good time to be running and it’s so good for the sport.
Team Aspire – supporting the disadvantaged
BB: I couldn’t agree more. Let’s talk about, you mentioned development, you’ve got a program called Team Aspire, tell us a bit about that.
AA: Team Aspire really is for disadvantaged athletes who we believe have potential in the medium to long term to really do very well in whatever their chosen discipline is. They seem to lack the coaching and the resources to really get started. We have tried to support the team of 10 athletes through what we call our Adopt an Athlete initiative. Whereby individual club members can either, on their own or two or three people get together and basically sponsor a runner’s expenses throughout the year.
We could have a runner who, for example, just can’t afford transport or race entries or shoes or kit or whatever the case may be. There will be two or three people or one person who just very generously offers to pick up all their expenses for a year. Make sure they get to races, make sure they have supplements, make sure that they have whatever they need to just reach their potential. Then obviously the club then offers free coaching to those athletes, to just try and help them move from good to great. That really is something that we are very proud of and working quite hard at.
No more falling through the cracks
BB: How’s that been received and are you seeing early results in that?
AA: We struggled initially to get funding, like we initially tried to get group funding, so try and get a private sponsor to pick up all ten athletes and that just wasn’t forthcoming. But from within the club, individuals have been very generous and it really has been received very well.
I think that individual club members really like feeling like they’re involved and making a difference and this is a perfect opportunity to do that. We have had some fantastic results. One of our best stories is Maputi Paka, who started off an aspire athlete two years ago and is now sitting in our elite ladies team. She just, in the last two years, under the guidance of Dave Coetzee who is her coach, has just whipped out amazing results and she really, really is doing so well.
BB: I love that idea of supporting an underprivileged runner. I think for someone who maybe doesn’t have lots of athletic ability, let me put it that way. It’s one thing having ability that you can take part, but someone like myself, for example, is never going to win a race, but I can almost live vicariously through someone I’m supporting.
AA: Absolutely, and just being able to stay up to date with their results and being able to go to a race and meet someone and support someone there, it just makes such a difference. I quite like the fact that we all become friends. We’re able to share our experiences. We’ve always got something to learn from another runner.
Perhaps someone who is a little bit less serious about running can actually take some guidance from one of our developing athletes. Take some tips because certainly they’re spending time on the road, learning what it’s all about.
BB: If someone is listening to this and they’re pretty happy with the running club that they’re running for, but they’d love to support what you’re doing through Team Aspire, could they reach out and get in touch and possibly help out in any way?
AA: Absolutely and we’d be very grateful for it. There is a page on our website, along the top tab there’s an Adopt an Athlete drop down menu and the contact details are on that page.
How to get involved
BB: Superb, what I’ll do is I’ll put the links to that in the show notes for this episode as well. So someone can click straight through there as well. If somebody wants to find out more about Born 2 Run Athletics Club, if they feel that they want to get better and it sounds like this is the environment for them to grow in. How can they join you guys? Are you a physical club around the country or how does it actually work?
AA: We have three club bases, which is CT, East London and Johannesburg. Those are fully operational clubs with time trials, club runs, club houses, the works. Each of those has a committee and a club manager which they’re able to get in touch with.
But the easiest way to find out more information is to just pop onto our website, which is www.born2runac.co.za and you can just pop out one of the inquiry forms or you can get the contact details of the club manager per branch which are listed there on the page.
BB: Fantastic and I think what you and David are doing is superb, keep it up and we need more of it. I think, if we’re going to be competing for Olympic medals in the years to come, let’s be honest, we should be winning a lot more athletics medals, particularly on the road, the longer distances. So best of luck, we look forward to following your progress and how things grow from strength to strength at Born 2 Run.
AA: Awesome, thanks very much.