The SPAR Women’s Challenge has been a catalyst for change for many people, not least of all 70-year-old 2020 race ambassador Minnie Trimalley.
The retired teacher ran in the first Port Elizabeth event 27 years ago and she will again be joining thousands of women at the race village in Summerstrand for the popular 10km and 5km races on March 21.
Trimalley, who was already a regular runner, said competing in the Women’s Challenge in 1994 changed her life.
“I became disciplined and committed in such a way that running became part of my life,” she said.
“I realised it was a healthy addiction as well as a stress reliever. I’m an early-morning runner so I schedule my daily programme as I hit the road.”
During her teaching career at Hillcrest Primary in Helenvale, which lasted 46 years, Trimalley would often challenge her pupils to join her running programme.
“In those days I would encourage my learners to run the race with me, which they are still doing today.
“The example I set is my energy as well as my fitness level. They always spoke about my fitness and looked up to me as their running teacher.”
She praised the children under her care for their commitment.
“Transport has always been a huge problem,” she said. “If we had transport to get them there I’m sure Hillcrest Primary would be the winning school with the most entries [in the Women’s Challenge].
“They used to walk early in the morning from Helenvale to get to the start at Kings Beach and later the area adjacent to Pollok Beach. To them the T-shirts, goodie bags and medals were something to look forward to.”
Besides encouraging a healthy lifestyle for the youth, Trimalley said the Women’s Challenge was a wonderful opportunity to join in the fun.
“It urges women of all shapes and sizes to participate and the camaraderie among them is electrifying.
“For some it sets a platform to become more serious runners and later professionals.
“For others, it’s about enjoying the fun and just to finish and receive a Women’s Challenge medal.”