From the news desk

Big Walk pulls in the crowd

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Despite gusty winds in other parts of the city, Green Point had a slight breeze on Sunday, which boded well for the 19 000 walkers participating in the 16th Sunfoil 10km Big Walk, the largest community walk. The walk commenced at 7.30 am at the Forecourt at Cape Town Stadium along Beach Road, Sea Point Promenade to the end of Sea Point Pavilion parking area and participants returned to the Green Point Athletics Track upon completion of the race. The event was sparked by a ceremonial gunshot kicking off with the 5km participants first followed by the 10km participants.

“It will be exciting to meet new people of different denominations. I hope to complete the 10km walk to prepare me for my umarah. And this will enlighten my spirit,” said Ruwayda (53).

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Compared to previous years, security patrolled the premises strictly and the implementation of road closures allowed for more easily and pleasurable walking for the participants. With an influx of participants, marshals regulated and monitored all walkers closely.

“This has been a very amazing effort if I look at the amount of people here today. We have a very sound and compelling security. Where ever there has been a deviation or an impediment of traffic flow, the affected roads have been close,” said event director Dr Ilyaaz Parker.

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“This year the City of Cape Town has allowed us to use the one side of the road completely and certain segments of Beach Roads and this has allowed for more pleasurable walking. The event aims to add value to the local community, to participants and its beneficiaries.”

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The committee dealt with late entries between 5.30pm and 9pm on Friday and Saturday and took last minute entries on the morning of the event. Walkers paid R30 per entry fee and the event exceeded its participant expectancy.

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“We were delighted to see another fantastic turnout to the event this year, this is Willowton Groups fourth Big Walk sponsorship and the inaugural event title sponsorship for the Sunfoil brand,” said Shoaib Moosa, sales and marketing director of Willowton Group, manufacturers of Sunfoil sunflower cooking oil and, more recently, Sunfoil margarine.

There has been a steady increase in numbers since the event started in 2000 with more than 7 560 competitors and it has become an annual highlight of the Cape Town sporting calendar both for those who complete the course and those who come along to support their friends and family members.

“There is no doubt that it meets a community need and it is obvious why it has become so popular. It is a professionally run event that gives active, health-conscious people the chance to combine some hearty exercise with a fun day out with family and friends amidst beautiful scenery. The atmosphere of positive energy and relaxed social interaction is clearly attractive to people of all ages,” continued Moosa.

“At the same time, all those taking part are helping others less than fortunate than themselves because the Red Cross Children’s Hospital is a major beneficiary of the event,” Moosa said.

All money generated from the Big Walk 2015 will go towards The Children’s Hospital Trust which will plough funds into the expansion and upgrade of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) facilities.

The Red Cross Children’s Hospital is a major beneficiary of the event and has received a cumulative total of over R1.7 million since 2009 . The upgrade of the paediatric ICU facilities will bring the number of beds to 39, including a 10 bed high care unit for neonates , the establishment of 8 isolation cubicles and more space and privacy for counselling and vigilant family members.

“Our aim is never to turn away a child who needs health care assistance,” added Parker.

Other sponsors include Polar Ice-Cream, Willowton, Tekkie Town, and Winners Supermarket. Participants were thrilled to find there were a number of prizes drawn on the day including live entertainment.

Although the 10km Big Walk is essentially a non-competitive event, prizes were presented afterwards as spot prizes and as a result of a lucky draw. Prizes included a trip for two to an international destination, an educational training programme of 2 years at the College of Cape Town, mountain bikes, android tablets, LCD TV and walking shoes etc.

Every walker was given a free Sunfoil branded T-shirt and samples of Sunfoil cooking oil, margarine and Allsome rice as a memento of the occasion.

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The first walkers crossed the finished line shortly after 8.30am. VOC News approached some of the participants who were visibly out of breathe, but still beaming with excitement.

“The biggest challenge to overcome is moving amongst the crowd as it was extremely packed but it was all worthwhile after the awards were distributed,” says Tashreeqah (18).

“I found it very hard to walk the entire 10km but seeing everyone together at the end at the finish line will be rewarding. I hope to improve my lifestyle and to get more fit because I hardly exercise,” says Jaahierah (20).

“The weather and parking was chaotic but eventually it played in our favour. We just want to have fun,” says Nomonde (46).

“I walk every year so it has become a tradition. Its just about having fun,” says Mawaddah (17).

Parker concluded: “We would like to pay tribute to everyone involved, from the participants and their supporters to the organisers and volunteers who have worked exceedingly hard to contribute to its success.” VOC (Nailah Cornelissen)


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