Scorching heat, sea breezes and colourful bandanas: A 9 km fun walk for the Sunflower Fund

On a scorchingly hot Sunday the 16th of September 2012, we joined a crowd of more than 2000 walkers and runners on a 9km fun run/walk along the Green Point and Sea Point promenade. This event had been organised by the Sunflower Fund, an organisation founded in 1999 in support of the South African Bone Marrow Registry. The organisation “was formed by parents whose children had contracted leukaemia, and in some cases had lost their battle against it.”

The Sunflower Fund aims to educate and recruit a viable source of well-informed potential bone marrow stem cell donors who are ethnically diverse, in an effort to save the lives of those needing a transplant when suffering from life-threatening blood disorders. It strives to maintain the associated donor records of the South African Bone Marrow Registry.(Website)

A huge crowd of supporters has assembled at the promenade – first to leave is the pack of runners

We met our friends L and V with Little N at the Mouille Point lighthouse with its red-and-white stripes. After signing up with the friendly team in bright sunshine yellow t-shirts manning the registration tables just after 8h30 – the event was only scheduled to begin at 10h00, we retired to a coffee shop across the road for some invigorating liquid refreshments aka caffeine.

Just before 10h00, we took our place among the throng of runners and walkers, and waited for the signal to start. It was already quite warm, so we vigorously applied sunscreen to faces, arms and legs, which hadn’t been exposed to such a hot sun since the end of summer. While we waited, we were entertained by a couple of presenters from 567 Cape Talk Radio who were promoting the event on the local radio station. It was a lovely vibe – great excitement and anticipation.

At last, we approach the Sea Point swimming pool – perhaps we should go for a dip?

The route was straightforward and level, there-and-back along the Promenade, with the turn-around point situated at a traffic circle and parking area just a short stretch after the Sea Point public swimming pool.

All the participants had pinned race numbers to their chest or back, and everyone was wearing a colourful bandana with the word ‘Hope’ in all the official languages of South Africa interspersed among the cheerful sunflowers. Many had the bandanas wrapped around their heads like a ‘doekie’, others had rolled them into a kind of sweatband around their heads, some wore them like a cowboy’s necktie, and still more had encircled their arms or wrists with them. Little N’s bandana was firmly tied to her pram, so that it could not get lost in the crowd.

We too reach the halfway mark and, after filling up with some Coca Cola and a bottle of water, we retrace our steps to the finish line

And then we were off! After a promising start, we fell behind barely 200 metres further – a dummy had gone awol and needed to be searched for. Ah, the joys of outings with kids! 😉 Amidst much good humoured ribbing, we resigned ourselves to the fact that we were bringing up the rear, but thanks to some very vigorous walking over the remaining distance, we caught up and overtook the last stragglers.

We hadn’t even walked 2 km, when the first runners appeared up ahead, dodged around us, and sprinted energetically towards the finish line. Mind you, they probably had the right idea, as the day just got hotter and hotter. When we finally crossed the finish line, it was 20 to 12h00 – so it had taken us just over one-and-a-half hours to walk 9 km.

As we were feeling rather peckish by then, we rewarded ourselves with a delicious lunch at the Fraiche Ayres restaurant inside the Starke Ayres garden centre on Liesbeek Parkway in Rosebank, in the cool shade of some lovely trees. And of course Little N – who was clearly feeling reinvigorated after her nap in the pram during our walk – had a fabulous time running hither-and-thither and smelling all the flowers. Heavenly!

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