Freedom Day Run celebrates centenary of Cape Town’s first township

Thousands of people are expected to make their way to the Langa Sports Stadium on Freedom Day, on Thursday April 27, to take part in the second Street Run through this historic township.

William Kaptein, the winner of last year’s inaugural Langa Run4Freedom. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

This year Cape Town’s oldest township, Langa, celebrates its 100th year and the organisers of the TymeBank Langa Run4Freedom, along with the Langa community, will be pulling out all the stops to welcome visitors, and to make sure it is a very special experience for runners and supporters.

The race will kick off at the Langa Sports Stadium in Bitterhout Avenue at 7.15am on April 27, when runners will make their way through the streets of Langa to the finish line. The route, which winds down Washington Street – the oldest in the township – is designed to take runners past some of Langa’s well-known landmarks.

Zintle Xiniwe, from Boxer Athletics Club, the women’s winner of the 2022 inaugural Langa Run4Freedom race. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

Residents are expected to once again line the streets to cheer runners on, spurring the community spirit of the day.

The race is accessible to runners of all fitness levels and includes a 10-kilometre run for participating clubs and professional athletes, and a 6-kilometre option for non-professional runners who want to test their fitness.

The Run4Freedom is the first of its kind for Langa, and chairman of the Langa Running Club, Aubrey Issacs, is the man behind this event. “Many people don’t know that sport and fitness is big in this township; we have open-air gyms popping up everywhere. The turnout for the inaugural event last year was beyond all expectations,” he says.

“Over 1100 runners participated in the 10-kilometre run and many more arrived to support the runners and to celebrate Freedom Day with us, in the spirit of peace and togetherness.”

Mr Issacs believes runners will turn out in their thousands again this year, along with supporters, to run, celebrate and soak up the great community vibe. “Our ultimate goal is to establish the Freedom Day Run as Langa’s flagship running event,” he says.

The Langa Run4Freedom race will kick off at the Langa Sports Stadium on Freedom Day, Thursday April 27. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

The Run4Freedom also pays tribute to the life of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his fight for freedom for all South Africans, by creating a safe space for people from across the city and province to run in the city’s oldest township.

“For race day we are working closely with the Traffic Department and have roped in our local community policing forum to safeguard the route,” says Mr Issacs.

Lead sponsor, TymeBank, is proud to be on board and chief executive of business banking, Karl Westvig, who initiated the relationship with the Langa Running Club in 2015 as CEO of Retail Capital, now a division of TymeBank, says they value their role in empowering the Langa Running Club as it enables many talented club runners to reach their full potential. A keen runner himself, Mr Westvig says: “I am so proud to be part of this important initiative and I hope that it becomes a milestone on the sporting events calendar.”

The Langa Running Club is regarded as one the city’s elite running clubs and attracts members from different communities. Among their members is top female runner Fortunate Chidzivo, and top local runner William Kaptein, who was first to cross the finish line at last year’s Freedom Day Run. He will be defending his title in the 2023 run against 2nd placed André Afrika, who is also a member of the Langa Running Club now.

Entrants can register to participate on until Sunday April 23 or at the venue on race day from 5am to 7am. Entry fees range from R55 to R135 for the 10-kilometre run and from R30 to R50 for the 6-kilometre run.

The proceeds from the event will be invested directly back into the athletics club where specific programmes are developed to uplift the young people in the area.