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Hundreds race in memory for Vuyo Mbuli


Johannesburg residents, fitness fanatics and fans and friends of Vuyo Mbuli turned up in large numbers at the James and Ethel Grey Park in Atholl, near Melrose Arch, early yesterday morning to take part in the Vuyo Mbuli Memorial Race in honour of the late well-known TV and radio legend.

The race was jointly organised by the Soweto Cabal Athletics Club, Mbuli’s former running club, and the City of Johannesburg.

For the City it was a perfect platform to promote its Healthy Lifestyle Programme, which seeks to encourage residents to aspire to a better quality of life through exercise, healthy eating and living a disease-free life. Participants ranged from professional athletes to ordinary residents, who either jogged or walked the 5km or 10km courses.

Some of the runners, representing a host of running clubs across Johannesburg, set off with a blast at 8am and, for the most part, made short work of the 5km and 10km categories. Others followed at a much slower pace, satisfied just to be part of the inaugural race.

“I’m not much of a runner but it is good to be getting some exercise for a change and to see so many people pitching up in support of Vuyo,” said one runner as she ambled across the finish line.

She and other late finishers were egged on by shouts of “Run! Run!” and “You can do it!” by a small crowd of onlookers. Mbuli, a popular presenter of SABC1’s Morning Live, was watching a Cheetahs versus the Reds match at Free State Stadium on May 18 2003 when he collapsed.

Paramedics treated him at the scene before rushing him to the Bloemfontein Mediclinic, where he died aged 46. Post-mortem results revealed he died of pulmonary embolism, a blockage of an artery in the lung as a result of a blood clot.

Speaking at the race, Soweto Cabal Athletics Club Chairman Sylvester Bobo Shange said Mbuli was a good-natured man with a quick smile who had taken up running to improve his fitness and to ose weight.

"I am very happy to see so many people here today and we will always remember the Big Guy (Mbuli)," said Shange. "There is already talk of expanding the scope of the race next year by adding a 21km leg to it."

According to Shange, at least 1 000 people registered for the race online in the days leading up to the event. About 200 or 300 more entered on the day.