By SIVE FAITH GINYA
Lionel Blaauw, Makhanda’s top long-distance runner, is thrilled to be participating in Cape Town’s most prestigious running event, the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon 2022, on 17 April.
Blaauw said that running is a gift God gave him to survive. It relieves him from stress, keeps him busy, and prevents him from living in a shell feeling sorry for himself. “When running, I forget about my past and the fact that I don’t have money”, he said.
Blaauw spent about ten years as a beggar, living in the streets from 15-25 years old, when he met his knight in shining armour, who invited him to run with him.
The knight offered to pay his expenses whenever they ran together, and at the time, this motivated Blaauw to keep going.
Blaauw does not have any more information about his hero except that he was an advocate, but he knows for sure that he left him with a passion for running.
Blaauw reckons he may be the only Makhandan who can run 56km.
Recalling his past, Blaauw said this opportunity makes him feel that he is finally getting somewhere, despite being unemployed. He even has sponsors: KS Auto Spares and Just Property.
Blaauw said he still needs accommodation in Cape Town, but he is optimistic that a solution will be found.
He said he believes many young, unemployed people in poor communities die young because they have nothing to keep them busy. Crime, drugs and aimlessness take their toll.
He believes sport can help many young people improve their lives – as it did his.
“It’s possible to live and be happy even when you are not wealthy,” he said.