D. Thompson's Run the World Challenge - 13. South Africa


 This is the blog entry for GSN founding partner Dan Thompson’s 13th Run The World Challenge run, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Oscar Pistorius is guilty! Or at least he is in the court of South (and southern) African public opinion. And does that count for anything? Who’s to say, but it is extraordinarily well informed opinion with wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling, every-which-way-round-the exterior-coverage of the trial coming at you from every media outlet.

To give you a sense of it, when I slogged up Bompas at the start of my run, the paper headlines were 'Generations Naked Pics'. When I ran back this had changed to 'Oscar Screams Like A Woman'. 
For the defence were arguing that the screams heard by the neighbours weren't Reeva Steenkamp's screams of terror and pain but Oscar's screams of horror and remorse.
The amount of South African interest in the trial is extraordinary but so is the global interest. Pistorius must now be the second most famous track athlete in the world and may be just about to overtake Lightning Bolt in the global renown stakes.
Melvin, who picked me up after my endless journey from the UK (hydraulics problem / change of aircraft), and sat there with me while I did a media interview stuck in the airport car park (car park barrier not working), was clear on the subject.
Oscar had to be guilty and, what's more, finding him guilty would send a good message to South African men to treat women with more respect. (The stats on rape and murder of women in South Africa are truly appalling.)
He was also very keen that Pistorius shouldn't get preferential treatment in jail because of his fame and fortune. A point made even more graphically by the reported head of South Africa's jail gangs who, in a telephone interview with the press, essentially promised Pistorius a stabbing if he wasn't happy with Pistorius's jail conditions.
And while the media concentrated on the sensational, I quietly got on with my run. It was much harder than I expected. Perhaps because of the 19 hours of travel and lack of sleep, perhaps because of the lack of recent training, perhaps because of the altitude (1600-1700m) - or perhaps because of the bizarre fact that there are always more uphills than downhills on a circular course.
I ran from the UK Trade and Investment offices up Bompas as mentioned, along Oxford, through the Melrose Bird Sanctuary and via the Wanderers Cricket ground - home of the 'greatest one day international of all time'. 
I ended up back at UKTI where I had the honour of meeting Baroness Scotland (Britain's Trade Envoy to South Africa, first ever woman Attorney General and utterly charming with it) and Trade Commissioner Andy Henderson. (Pic above.)
Finally, a journey back to the hotel with Melvin, listening to his tales of being in the frontline of anti-apartheid protests while at school. Extraordinary stuff.
Thank you Melvin Ramapuputla, Isabel Potgieter, Hooman Nouruzi, Baroness Scotland , Andy Henderson and everyone else at the UK Trade and Investment offices in Jo’burg for all the support and help with my South African run.
Date: 4th March, 2014
Time:  55’27” (hilly course; more ups than  downs)
Total Distance Run to date: 130 km
You can read about D. Thompson’s  other Run the World Challenge runs at http://www.greatestsportingnation.com/blog