solo runner
By Xylon van Eyck

Xylon van Eyck completed a solo marathon Saturday 25th July 2020 to raise funds for the ACVV Khayalethu Youth Centre and Oliver House. The proceeds will go towards social development programs helping boys from challenging backgrounds to prepare for adulthood.

When IRONMAN South Africa was postponed this year, I decided I still wanted to run a marathon. As a lifelong cyclist, I have notoriously weak running muscles. I decided that doing another marathon would strengthen my legs and help towards future triathlon events when they eventually return.

On my training rides and runs during the lockdown in the Baakens Valley in Port Elizabeth, I’d noticed a group of boys walking during our permitted exercise area in South Africa. I subsequently learnt they were from a youth centre very close to my home. Khayalethu Youth Centre takes in homeless boys between the ages of 7 – 18.

I picked up the phone, gave them a call and arranged a meeting. I discovered that shoes and funding were two of their immediate needs. So, I contacted Merrell and all the boys were kitted out in quality outdoor footwear. But I couldn’t stop just there.

shoe donations

Delivering donations at Khayalethu Youth Centre | Photo James Jones

I told the Youth Centre that I would publish a fundraising page to see what financial support we could get them. I decided to use the marathon to do some good. My wife convinced me to make the target R42200 (roughly $2500) – as 42 is the distance of a marathon in kilometres.

We went live two days before the marathon, and I was blown away by the response. I knew that people really wanted to help when I stopped recognizing the names of people donating.

As I was suffering during the marathon, my wife would shout the latest donations from the car. It certainly helped, especially after 25 kilometres when everything started hurting.

solo runner

Race Day Solo Marathon for Khayalethu Youth Centre | Photo Wendy van Eyck

I’d mapped out my route and to my surprise, the boys from the Youth Centre were waiting at my makeshift finishing line. They ran the last 900 meters with me. It was very emotional.

Marietjie, who runs the Youth Centre thanked me profusely for running my own marathon as a fundraiser for them. But raising funds and running for 4 hours is the easy part. Showing up for the boys every day, when no one is watching and all the attention the fundraiser is getting is gone, is the hard part.

young kids with flag

Khayalethu Youth Centre at the finishing point| Photo Wendy van Eyck

The fundraising page is still open if you would like to help these children and young adults in the long run. You and I as a community can make a difference in someone else’s life.

To donate to Khayalethu Youth Centre, go here:

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