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Slave Route Challenge, with a difference

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Cape Town’s fascinating slave history will be on display again this year when the annual Slave Route Challenge returns. The race, which takes place in Cape Town on Sunday 8 May 2016, is geared to be bigger and better than previous years, offering entrants the unique opportunity to honour the diversity of our heritage.

This event is presented by the Itheko Sport Athletic Club under the auspices of Western Province Athletics. Organisers say the Slave Route Challenge is “more than just a race” and is “a tribute to the trials of dispossessed individuals” who contributed significantly to the development of Cape Town and South Africa.

“The Iziko Slave Lodge has a Column of Memory whereon the names of 8000 men, women and children who were an important part of South Africa’s history have been inscribed,” race organiser Farouk Meyer from Itheko Sport Athletic Club told VOC News at the launch at the Slave Lodge on Thursday night.

“This year, every person that registers to take part in this year’s Slave Route Challenge will run on behalf of one of these names on the column, allowing each runner to honour a specific person that was an important part of our country’s past.”

“This year’s race aims to honour individuals and commemorate the collective history and diversity of both the race entrants and the people they are remembering. This takes the race to a whole new level, and personalises it for each runner, while at the same time instilling a sense of unity and meaning – something so critical at this point in time for our country,” said Meyer.

“Today the Iziko Slave Lodge is a site of memory – a place of reconciliation and hope. The Slave Route Challenge provides the runners the opportunity to actively engage with this history and to, beyond the race, explore, discover, reflect and reconnect with their roots,” added Paul Tichmann, Curator of the Iziko Slave Lodge.

IzikoSlaveLodge Column of Memory
The Column of Memory at Iziko Slave Lodge

While most of the race is set in the CBD area, it is not easy as runners have to contend with gruelling inclines on the hills of the Bo-Kaap and Signal Hill. The race takes runners past several historically significant landmarks, such as the Castle of Good Hope, Grand Parade, the Whipping Post, Old Slave Church, the Iziko Slave Lodge and the Slave Tree Plaque.

Moeshfieka Botha from the Castle of Good Hope said the race was an important part of the Cape’s historical legacy. Traditionally, runners navigate their way through the colonial building and this year, the race will culminate there.

“The Castle has undeniable links to oppression and slavery. The new vision of the Castle is to make it more accessible to people. We want people to stop seeing it as a bastion of colonialism. It must be a platform for debate, dialogue, nation building, healing and reconciliation. And through events like this, we can get the community to be part of this process,” she said.

Since its inaugural race in 2011, the annual Slave Route Challenge has consisted of a half-marathon and a 10km run, as well as a 5km fun run/walk, and a 10km big walk for those who prefer a more leisurely pace.

The Slave Route Challenge is proudly sponsored by Metropolitan, as part of its Mojo Series which celebrates the community.

Slave Route Challenge details:
When: Sunday, 8 May 2016

Start: Darling Street, Cape Town

Ends: Grand Parade, Cape Town

Times: Half marathon: 07:00
10km run: 07:15
5km fun run/walk: 07:30
10km big walk: 07:45

To enter, go to and register to take part in the race, and find out who you are running for.

Social media hashtags:
Follow @SlaveRoute on Twitter
Join the event on Facebook:

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