30th Loskop done and dusted for Lesley

Lesley Vermeulen became part of the Loskop Marathon’s rich history when she finished her 30th marathon. She is the first woman to do so.

Under loud applause Lesley finished the 50km marathon in 06:40 on April 22.

Lesley Vermeulen finished her 30th Loskop Marathon on Saturday, April 22. With her is Hein Koch, race director.

“When we got to the top of Farradays I was overwhelmed. I looked down onto the dam and realised I have done it. Emotions swept through me. I was thankful and at the same time so humbled by the moment,” Lesley said.

Lesley took a few steps back and reminisced over the well known route she became so familiar with.
The first 21km of the Loskop offers a gentle but constant climb up to the radio mast and then it rewards runners with a downhill run until the 32km mark where the first of the two monstrous hills are situated. Bugger’s Hill is steep but fortunately only 350 metres long.

Annitta de Villiers, Lesley Vermeulen and Abie Smit.

This is followed by a 3km descent that takes its toll on runners’ calves. At the 45km mark the monstrous hill, Faraday’s, awaits. Once runners have negotiated its 2.5km climb, the finish is a gentle downhill to the dam.

“I have run Loskop in sweltering heat that reflects back from the road and does it’s best to make you quit and then icy cold rain and wind that does its best to push you back to Middelburg. I know every kilometre of this stretch. It has been a journey I am so glad I have completed. At the same time, it is sad because I am now done.”

Lesley said it is better to end on a high note and therefore she plans to stand next to the road next year supporting and cheering the runners as they embrace the spirit of this race.
With her leg in plaster Lesley first encountered the Loskop 31 years ago while driving on the route with her mother-in-law, Ouma Hettie seconding her husband.

“I stood next to the road with my leg in plaster enjoying all the comments that came my way ‘You didn’t have to break your leg over me’ and Break a leg’ I was told. We had so much fun and I was not even a runner at that time, but the seed had been planted.”

As soon as her leg was out of plaster, Lesley started walking and progressed to running. She kept her goal of running the Loskop as her motivation.

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And once the Loskop was in her blood she never stopped.
Lesley’s life partner Abie Smit captured his admiration for Lesley in the following,

“We had an absolutely amazing Loskop this year. Nowhere during our 50km endeavour was there any concern of any kind. We just enjoyed our run. Once again I can say that I am amazed with this woman’s will power and determination. I am blessed to be part of this wonderful achievement! She worked hard for it and definitely deserves it.”

“This takes guts to run 30 Loskop marathons and that is something Lesley has a lot of. I have so much respect for this runner,” said race director Hein Koch.

Hein completed his 30th Loskop last year and said it was just as emotional for him as it was for Lesley.

“When I met up with her on stage I also choked on my tears. I know how tough it has been. I am very proud of Lesley,” Hein said.

Lelsey Vermeulen.

Lesley has two very important races lined up this week. When she finishes these races she will be the second woman runner in South Africa that has run around the earth. Lesley needs 38 more kilometres to have accumulated 40 075km. That equals the distance around the earth.

She will be running a 21.1 km in Bethal on Thursday, April 27 and wrap up on Saturday, April 28 in Pretoria.

“After that I am going to run for pleasure. I will not hang up my running shoes, but from now on I will decide where and when I will be running,” Lesley said.

See the video on Lesley’s finish at the Loskop Marathon on our Facebook page

Zita Goldswain
Assistant Editor

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