This year the popular Gugulethu Reconciliation Race enters its 19th year with RCS on board as the title sponsor for the 9th consecutive year. This year’s race day is set to be the best yet, in celebration of the 60th anniversary of Cape Town’s oldest township. The RCS Gugs Race, as it is fondly referred to, takes place in the vibrant township of Gugulethu on the outskirts of Cape Town, on Sunday 16 December – South Africa’s annual Day of Reconciliation. RCS is owned by BNP Paribas, one of the largest banks in Europe.
This race, which is among the most anticipated events on the Western Cape’s annual sporting calendar, saw the number of entrants rise steeply to just over 2000 last year.
“This race belongs to the community, and we are proud to celebrate this distinctive milestone, along with the people of Gugulethu,” says RCS CEO Regan Adams. “We encourage runners from all areas of the Western Cape and across the country to enter into the spirit of celebration and reconciliation, and come along with friends and family to soak up the experience, along with a taste of township life. ‘’
Inspired by the national spirit of unity that defines this public holiday, the RCS Gugs Race is one of the only platforms that brings together all cultural groups in one of the city’s oldest townships, and also enables them to reach their goals – whether as serious runners, as ordinary people working at getting healthier and fitter, or simply as supporters encouraging the runners to give it their best.
The RCS Gugs Race was established in 2000, a year after the passing of American anti-apartheid activist Amy Biehl in Gugulethu. The event still honours her spirit of compassion, but has forged ahead to inspire greater participation by focusing on a wider appeal and a family atmosphere. The vision has always been to instil a running culture among residents of this township, and new Chairperson of the Gugulethu Athletics Club, Aubrey Shoko intends to build on this legacy.
He says: ‘’Gugulethu is Xhosa for ‘our pride’ and the RCS Gugs Race has been instrumental in instilling a sense of pride in our runners, with respect to their own health and wellbeing, and, through a strong culture of running, has helped people reach their full potential.’’
The RCS Gugs Race is accessible to runners of all fitness levels, and includes a 4.2km as well as a 10km option. The runners are welcomed by residents as the race takes them and their supporters through the streets of Gugulethu. A charming aspect of the race is the opportunity to ‘gift’ packets of sweets to local children who line the streets en-route on race day.
The race has the feel of a family gathering, and includes family-friendly entertainment, food and beverage stalls manned by local residents, and a chance to win spot prizes just for showing up on the day. Race MC for a second year is top local comedian Siv Ngesi, who calls Gugulethu ‘home’. He is also a regular participant in the race.