THE FINAL race of the four-race Fortress Running Series takes place in Klerksdorp on Sunday with the organisers planning to complete the year ‘on a bang’.

Race organiser Dorah Mngwevu the co-founder of ISMO Athletics Club says while they have had three successful races in Thohoyandou, Evaton and Sterkspruit already, the Klerksdorp event should be a ‘special one’.

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“We have had some good races this year with great support in Venda where it was the first time we took the race. Now we are looking to conclude the year with a bang out in Klerksdorp at Flamwood. We have some big names confirmed to race and we are also going to have a gala dinner the night before the race to honour the running legends from the North West Province.”

The athletes that are confirmed for Sunday’s half marathon race are the legendary Elroy Gelant who won in Evaton as well as the female winner at that race Cornelia Joubert – both of whom run in the colours of Boxer Athletic Club.

Their teammate Galdwin Mzazi who won the inaugural Chillies Athletic Club 10km race last weekend and was in the South African team that was supposed to have competed at the IAU World 50km Championships will be racing.


Also running on Sunday will be the popular Mapaseka Makhanya of Diepkloof Athletic Club who also raced in Evaton. Galaletsang Mekgoe, the Nedbank Running Club starlet who finished fifth in the 2022 Comrades Marathon, will also toe the start line eager to make up for her failure to finish the Soweto marathon due to injury.

The legendary Matthews Temane who once ran what was a world record 60:11 half marathon which could not be ratified due to apartheid South Africa not being recognised by world athletics will also participate. As will Jan Tau, the former Soweto Marathon champion.

These two legends will also be honoured for their contribution to the sport alongside the likes of Steven Morake, Jean Verster, Adam Motlagale as well as the Mogotsi brothers – Meshack and Shadrack.

Comrades Marathon champions Edward Mothibi and tete Dijana as well as South African marathon king Stephen Mokoka are also set to be recognised at the pre-race gala dinner to be hosted at the Rio Casino Hotel.

“The winners of the half marathon and the 10km races from the previous three races have also been invited to the event so they can be honoured,” Mngwevu explained.

“This being the last event of this year’s Series, we want to make it a memorable one for everyone.”

By Matshelane Mamabolo 

ISRAEL MORAKE, the 1992 Two Oceans Marathon champion, believes South Africa has more running talent than the world’s leading nations in the sport but the country needs to make a concerted effort of unearthing and grooming boys and girls with potential.

“When I look at countries like Kenya, Jamaica, Ethiopia, they are the top in the world but the reality is that we are a lot better with the untapped talent that we have in the country. The problem in South Africa is that we don’t go out there and try to dig for that talent. We have lots of kids at schools but they don’t do any exercises.”

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Lest he be accused of making empty noise, Morake is putting his money where his mouth is though a series of road races that seeks to expose underprivileged areas to competitive running.

Through his ISMO Athletic Club in collaboration with Fortress Real Estate, Morake organizes the Fortress Running Series which hosts three-in-one race (half-marathon, 10km and 5km fun run) around the country.

Now in its fifth year, the Fortress Running Series is growing in leaps and bounds and this year’s edition has already had two events successfully hosted in Venda, Limpopo as well as Evaton in Gauteng.

The third race is taking place this Sunday in Morake’s home township of Sterkspruit in the Eastern Cape and the man who earned two top ten finishes at the Comrades Marathon during the peak of his running career in the 90s is hopeful that they will have a good number of athletes participating.

“We are expecting to get about 800runenrs in our small township this weekend. With some crossing over from Lesotho as they’ve done in the past years. We are ready to host yet another successful race, thanks to the support of Fortress, which we believe will go a long way towards unearthing some talent. We have engaged schools here and they will be sending some youngsters to run the 5km race.”


Morake says it pains him that South Africa is not among the leaders in the sport of running anymore.

“Back in the 70s and 80s we used to be the best, not just in South Africa, but the world over. We had runners producing world best times. But now, I think as legends are a little to blame because we have sat back and not gotten involved in the sport.”

He is directly involved through the Fortress Running Series and he is excited that this weekend’s race is being hosted in his hometown.

“Sterskspruit is special for me because this is where I got the blessings to be the top athlete I went on to become,” the man who won three gold medals at the Two Oceans gushes “By bringing the race here, I believe I am taking that blessing which I had back to where the seed was planted. I am back to look for that seed and help to grow it and thanks to the support of Fortress we are able to give these youngsters an opportunity to run in organized races.”

Entry forms are available at the Sterkspruit Mall run by Fortress and runners can also enter online. Entry fees start at R60 for the 5km, R100 for the 10km and R150 for the 21.1km races.

Children under 12 can participate in the 5km race for free. The Eastern Cape Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture has sponsored the prize money for this race and with the total prize pool up for grabs for the 21.1km and 10km races being a cool R80,000.

By Matshelane Mamabolo

Mapaseka Makhanya has praised the organisers of the Fortress Running Series for taking races to the people. After kicking off in Venda last month, the second installment of the 10km and 21km series took place at the Evaton Mall in the Vaal, south of Gauteng.

Makhanya, who started running in Soweto and went on to represent South Africa at the 2017 World Championships in London, believes that township races are key to unlocking the wealth of athletic talent with which South Africa is blessed.

ALSO READ: Fortress Running Series moves to Evaton after successful debut in Thohoyandou

“I decided to take part because the Fortress Running Series aligns with my own vision of bringing running back into our own communities and into the townships. There’s no better way for us elite athletes to inspire the younger generation to join the sport than coming here,” she said.

 “There was a girl who came to me and cried – literally cried. She is eighteen and asked me to coach her. I’m so humbled. So when we have girls do that, let’s encourage them and let’s motivate them. I’m glad that I came and big up to the Fortress team for this race.”

Mapaseka Makhanya


Makhanya was the third woman across the finish line in the 21km event as Boxer Athletics Club’s Cornelia Joubert defended the title she won last year with a time of 1:22:10 ahead of Rudo Mhanderwa of the Nedbank Running Club who finished in 1:23:32.

The men’s race was dominated by the Pitch Track Club for whom Olympian Elroy Gelant won in 1:07:21 followed by his PTC teammate Ian Slinger (1:07:41), while Tiisetso Mokhoma took third (1:08:10).

Besides the top elites who battled for line honours, hundreds of social runners took part – especially in the 5km event. In total over 560 participants ran and walked through the streets of the Emfuleni Local Municipality township as the mayor Councillor Sipho Radebe looked on.

Fortress Real Estate’s Kelly Carmichael says bringing communities together is what it’s all about.

“The Fortress Running Series came about as a result of doing what we do best which is bringing communities together. Our business really is about bringing people to our establishments to the retails centres. We are asking people to spend time here and a good way to spend your time is by doing something healthy. You have the professional runners running with the amateurs. It’s good to be out there in the environment and we’re together and we’re having fun. And that’s the point – to bring people together around a common goal,” said Carmichael.

 Race day was preceded by athletics coaching clinics at Evaton West Primary School and Letsema Primary School on Wednesday 16 August and then a community clean-up in partnership with Don’t Waste on Saturday 19 August, which saw community members come together to pick up litter along the route.

The Fortress Running Series moves to Evaton this weekend following the highly-successful inaugural race at the Venda Plaza in Thohoyandou last month.

Evaton Mall will be the venue for the three-in-one race that boasts a half marathon and 10km races as well as a five kilometre fun run.

Race Director Dorah Mngwevu of ISMO Athletics Club says they are expecting a huge turnout, particularly from young school kids as well as some of Gauteng’s top runners.

“Venda was hugely successful given that it was the first time we took the race there. And we are encouraged by the reception and support we enjoyed there. We are now going into the second installment of our four-race series at a venue that has previously hosted us,” the renowned athletics administrator said.

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“Because this race is coming just before two other major races in the Cape Town and Soweto Marathons, we are expecting a lot of Gauteng runners to come through and use this as training for those events.”

Soweto’s Mapaseka Makhanya, for example, will be using the race as part of her ‘training long run’ although her main reason for taking part is because the race talks to her objectives as a runner.

“I am all for the development of the sport and I really like what Mama Dorah and ISMO are doing with the Fortress Series. They are taking good events to areas that ordinarily do not get such top For others, the race is a competition. One such runner is last year’s champion of the Evaton Mall race Cornelia Joubert.

“It was fantastic to win the Fortress Race in Evaton last year and I am looking forward to doing it again,” the Boxer Athletic Club athlete. “I had a bit of a struggle with my running last year and two in that race was one of the highlights. It was a very nice race, the route was good and the vibe was amazing. And then I won, so you can imagine why I’d want to go again.”


Joubert, who also won the Rustenburg leg of the series last year, says she participates in the Fortress Series because of what the races represent.

“I really love to support the Fortress race because it’s well organized and the vibe is good, but more importantly I love the fact that the series is all about development. As a runner I know how hard it can be to travel long distances for races. And not everyone can afford that. So it is great that Fortress are hosting these races in areas that ordinarily would not get top class races,” said the former national champion in the 10000m, half-marathon and full marathon.

The 35-year-old has ambitions of becoming national champion again: “I have been training hard and I feel I am having a much better season this time than I did last year. I ran the TotalSports Women’s Day 10k recently and finished in fourth place. It was a big improvement from the eighth place from last year and my goal is to win the national half marathon next year.”

Victory in Evaton at the weekend will no doubt boost her confidence and the organisers no doubt hope it will also serve as inspiration for the younger athletes, particularly the females.

“It is Women’s Month and we are expecting to have a lot of women and girls coming through to the race and to have some of these elites competing will serve to motivate and give confidence to the young girls.”

Next up in the Series after Evaton will be races in Sterkspruit, Eastern Cape on October 8 and Kleksdorp, North West on November 19.

By Matshelane Mamabolo

FOR AN inaugural race, the Fortress Running Series’ Venda Run was a big success with the organisers being pleasantly surprised by the huge turn-out for their race. Former Two Oceans Marathon champion Israel Morake – the chairman of ISMO Athletics Club which organised the race – said after the event that the response they got from the people of Vhembe exceeded their expectations.

“This was really bigger than we had anticipated. The turnout was a pleasant surprise. We are truly appreciative of the support we got in Venda and we are in no doubt that the race will grow from strength to strength,” said the man who won the 56km Two Oceans back in 1992.

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The Venda Run was the opening event of the four-race Fortress Running Series that is aimed at taking proper races to underprivileged areas around the country. Now in its sixth year, the series was in Limpopo for the first time and the Venda Plaza was teeming with runners of all ages participating in the half marathon, 10km as well as 5km fun run.

The main attention was on reigning Comrades Marathon champion Tete Dijana who jogged the 21.1km while offering encouragement to others on the route as well as previous winner Edward Mothibi who took part in the 10km.

Runners excitedly followed the two on the road, excited to be running with such luminaries and many lined up to take pictures with them at the finish and Morake was delighted by the response because that is exactly what they wanted to achieve.

Fortress Running Series’ Venda Run a success
Ntate Johannes Mosehla

“Our aim is to inspire, and having these two champions as well as Ntate Johannes Mosehla (the 81-year-old Polokwane Athletic Club runner who became the oldest Comrades Marathon finisher last month) has helped us achieve that. You saw how just about everyone wanted to have a piece of these legends and to see myself and Hezekiel (Sepeng, the 1996 Atlanta Olympics 800m silver medallist), they were encouraged.”


The Comrades champions were themselves delighted to have been a part of the event; Dijana saying he understands the importance of giving others hope when you have reached the top because he too used to be an aspirant runner watching the successful ones.

The two Nedbank Running Club stars will, according to Morake, also be present at the other three races of the Fortress Running Series which will take place in Evaton (August 20), Sterkspurit (October 8) and Kleksdorp (November 19).

Fortress Running Series Photo Gallery:

By Sports Reporter

THERE IS EXCITEMENT galore in the running community out in the Vhembe area, Limpopo in anticipation of Sunday’s Fortress Running Series Venda Plaza Run 2023.

The three-in-one race that will feature a half-marathon, a 10km as well as a 5km fun run is going to have a Comrades Marathon feel about it with three champions of the world-famous ultra set to participate.

Back-to-back champion and down run record holder Tete Dijana [Main picture], 2019 winner Edward Mothibi who was on the podium this year (third) and last year (second) as well as multiple gold medallist and 2012 winner Ludwick Mamabolo are confirmed to race.

Add to those names another perennial top-tenner and this year’s veterans category (40-49 years old) winner Rufus Photo who finished fourth overall and you can understand just why the organisers have given the event the slogan ‘a race worth running’.

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Spicing up the line-up will be Johannes Mosehla, the 81-year-old Polokwane Athletic Club superstar who ran an incredible 9:26:10 to unseat the legendary Wally Hayward – a four-time champion – as the oldest man to complete the Comrades.

The fact that the race is organised by ISMO Athletics Club which is co-owned by 1992 Two Oceans Marathon winner Israel Morake who finished fourth at Comrades the year before

The lure of running against and with such Comrades Marathon luminaries has got the Vhembe running community excited and Morake says they are anticipating big numbers to line up at the start of the three races at the Venda Plaza.


Dijana meanwhile has ramped up the excitement by posting a picture of his race pack with the caption ‘Let’s meet in Venda this coming Saturday… I will be running the 21km’ on his Facebook page in announcing his participation.

The reaction ranged from some confirming their participation through others wishing Dijana luck to many from his home province of the North West stating that the title is already his.

“Good luck kgaetsedi yaka (little brother). I know you’re gonna make it and make us proud. Unfortunately, I won’t be there, it’s too far for me but I know you’ve already won before you can run,” Mouta Dijna – no doubt a relative – commented.

Murangaphanda Rumbumbulu pleaded with the champion to take it easy: “Tete give me a chance on this one, please bro.”

Another runner Sbu Mncwango said: “I will be chasing you abuti (brother). Please don’t open a big gap, just keep checking me as you were doing Piet.”

He was referring to Dijana’s Comrades winning run which saw him continuously looking back at Dutch runner Piet Wiersma who was closing in on him towards the end of the race.

Fortress Running Series Venda Plaza Run 2023 in Limpopo attracts big names
Johannes Mosehla

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Others, such as Moteka Mpeko, are just excited by the prospect of testing their speed against the champion: “I can’t wait to run the same race with you our champ.”

Dijana himself is looking forward to inspiring his fans: “I am not going there to compete. I just want to encourage the young and upcoming ‘Tete Dijanas’.”

And with good reason too because the Fortress Running Series is after all a developmental event aimed at giving athletes from the far-flung areas of the land an opportunity to showcase their talent and hopefully grow into being champions like Dijana, Morake and the other big names who will be in Venda this weekend.

The Venda Run in Limpopo is the first of four races in the Fortress Series. Other races are Evaton (August 20), Sterkspruit (October 8) and Kleksdorp (November 19)

By Matshelane Mamabolo