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The 20 miler challenge

This annual race definitely lived up to its notorious reputation! It’s not for the faint-hearted — 32km uphill, some of the seemingly endless inclines seriously steep, and little shade from the blazing heat along the way.

Outdoor with Rosie Mitchell

This one suits those out to test their endurance and staying power really thoroughly!

A very well-organised event, now in its 42nd year, the 2012 Europcar Dendairy 20 Miler drew a field of 198 individuals who tackled the full 32km race (cut-off time 5 hours), 66 additional runners in relay teams, and seven hardy wheelchair racers.

Long-time veterans of the race turned out in force, with Mike Garden running his 32nd, Debbie and Colin Colegrave, Iain Clark and Ephriam Kambambaire their 16th, Stuart Gemmill and Colin Loney, 18th, Angela Harrison and Ashok Desai, 19th, Elisha Tekere his 20th and Kenny Maurise his 24th — impressive, all round! Jonathan Chinyoka, also winner of the Kariba Half Marathon in September, scooped top Open prize in 1.47.04 while first woman home was Danielle Cox in 2.46.55.

Wheelchair Winner of the Kariba Half, Edmund Makutya, defended his title, winning for a third consecutive year, in 2.20.37. Second in the Open was last year’s winner Nkosiyazi Sibanda and third, Gilbert Mutandiro, who won the Cape Town Marathon this year. Second woman home was Jean Turner and third, Monica Kativhu.

Scenery out on the Shamva Road was spectacular, helping keep one’s mind off the steep hills to come, and the atmosphere was festive throughout, with lots of sponsored water points and markers and a great prize giving ceremony.

Traffic on Enterprise Road was heavy and oftentimes inconsiderate of this historic race in progress, roaring past too close to runners, and too fast.

It was a challenging race, swelteringly hot, and my first attempt.

The last 5k were really hard going, especially battling up the surprisingly steep Churchill Avenue after Newlands roundabout, but I was pleased to finish in 3 hours 43 and will try again next year, hoping to pace myself better to crack the 3½ hour mark!

Media tour exposes wetlands crisis

The wetlands crisis is primarily a humanitarian crisis.

Since warnings from ecologists and environmentalists of the ultimate, now imminent, result of wetland abuse, continue to go unheeded, the law to be ignored, and due process not to be followed, The Humanitarian Information Facilitation Centre this week tackled the issue from a humanitarian standpoint, inviting wetland experts and the media to tour just some of the wetlands currently being ruined or about to be ruined by construction.

What stood out through the day were the flaws in the system to protect these areas, so vital to the survival of our city, one, particularly glaring: It is the would-be developer who hires a consultant and pays for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on a wetland.

First, this should not actually happen at all! Wetlands are already Protected Areas under the Environmental Management Act and as such, should not be an option for development.

But that aside, surely there is something wrong with the logic here? Surely the interested party in the EIA outcome should not be the one paying?

Out of sight of main roads and passing traffic in the huge Gunhill/Highlands vlei between race course and Newlands by-pass in the past few weeks, the rich black spongy soil of this wetland which stores our water and filters out contaminants for us at zero cost is being bulldozed up and casually tossed to one side, replaced with building sand.

This wetland is now split right down the middle by a road under construction and further scarred by a growing network of additional intersecting roads. Yet another office complex and medical centre will take the place of this vitally important water storage, filtration and flood prevention facility that costs nothing.

The Borrowdale vlei will disappear under yet another shopping centre — just a stone’s throw from the constantly expanding Sam Levy Village, while beautiful Westgate Mall lies half empty.

Experts, Doctors Chris Magadza and Willie Nduyku, Dorothy Wakeling and Steve Davies and other concerned environmentalists spoke passionately on their subject to an attentive, often shocked group of journalists.

For years, warning bells about this now full-blown crisis fell on deaf ears, the human propensity to deny inconvenient truths well-exhibited in the belief-defying failure of money-hungry developers, the public and relevant authorities to absorb the simple fact that decades of wetland abuse, now compounded by actual construction in these seasonally waterlogged sponges, can lead to one result only: No water.

Meantime, elsewhere in the world, governments are scrambling to remove all buildings from destroyed wetlands to restore them to their natural state so there’s water to drink! Do we learn nothing from the mistakes others made before us?

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