Athletes urged to vote for Jozi with their feet

This is not just a T-shirt. It is a map of Johannesburg as it could be—an invitation to plot the city with your own two feet, to become a human charter.

Runners know this: that the nature of things change when it is your legs taking you places rather than four wheels. That, even in Jo’burg, there is unexpected kindness when you stride or glide or huff-puff-puff your way along the roads and avenues.

Take up running and you will learn to greet strangers as you pass—and they will greet you back.

We have forgotten these things, these everyday courtesies. ­Running teaches us a lesson in humility, politeness, humanity.

There is beauty, too. Morning runs, 5am starts, are more than redeemed by watching the dawn break over Emmarentia Dam, or seeing the first rays of sun as they hit the M1. ­Sunrises and sunsets make sculptures out of concrete, out of the city’s skyline, even the dark places.

Market. Bezuidenhout. Bertrams. Claim. Kotze. Rissik. Running can take back the streets, one block at a time.

Last week Nike announced its inaugural Run Jozi 10km night race, an event more than a year and a half in the planning. It has resulted in the sportswear company working closely with the City of Johannesburg to map a route along which runners venture into parts of the city that are not usually considered safe or accessible.

The race takes place on March 21, Human Rights Day, starting at 7pm on the Nelson Mandela Bridge and ending at Mary Fitzgerald Square—passing Luthuli House, City Hall, the Carlton Centre, Ellis Park, Ponte, Hillbrow, Constitution Hill and Park Station along the way.

It is a journey that, at night anyway, would ordinarily be taken only by the fearless or the carless.

This time, 10?000 people will take to the streets—safely shepherded by marshals and the Johannesburg ­Metro Police—all wearing their bright official race-day T-shirts with their unique preprinted race numbers at the bottom.

“Run,” urges the online entry page. “Run your city. Run where they say you can’t.”

Who could resist such a clarion call—and the chance to see Ponte at night from the intersection of Charlton Terrace and Saratoga Avenue without a windscreen in the way?

You can enter Run Jozi at Entry fees are R50 for students and R70 for the “open” category. The fee includes the cost of your running licence (required by Athletics South Africa) and your T-shirt. You can also register at Nike stores in Gauteng between February 8 and 12



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