So this weekend I particpated in the annual Bidvest Unity Walk, a 10km fun run/walk occuring in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. The event is organised by the Bidvest Group, in association with the Quadriplegic and Paraplegic Association of South Africa (QASA), and aims to donate wheelchairs for those who cant walk themselves. So why not get out of bed a bit earlier, put on your walking/running shoes and make a difference.
After a week of very cold and wet weather in the Mother City, I was not very amped to get up on Sunday morning early, drive to Bellville, and wait in the cold to start walking. I am a runner, I dont really dig walking. Its takes far to long to not cover a lot of distance. Lank ineffectual manner of getting from point A to point B in my opinion. But I got up, got dressed, and got ready for the day.
I should mention that the walk is the Bidvest Unity Walk is already the largest charity walk for one corporate group, which is quite an impressive feat. So when I arrived at the starting line at the Bellville Velodrome, the number of people was quite impressive to see.
The music was pumping, the MC was getting the “athletes” in the zone, and people were losing their friends in the crowd. And we’re off!
As the crowds of people wound past Tyger Valley shopping centre, the motorists started getting a bit annoyed, having most of their driving surface covered with padestrians and traffic officials siding with them. That being said, I was very impressed with the organisation of the traffic officials and the local authorities. There was minimal traffic build up, one lane was always kept clear of people, and they were always visiable and attentive. I don’t normally give many compliments to traffic cops, preferring to rather avoid and not letting myself get seen, but this day was well done. Bravo!
I was nice that Bidvest had the initiative primarily for their staff, but allowing guests to join them in the fun. My girlfriend works as a Client Liaison Officer at Land Rover N1 City, part of the Bidvest group, and organised me my guest pass. It was nice to see how the diverse companies within the group came together to walk for a common cause, not walking necessarily as employees of a massive company, but rather as people looking to make a difference. They weren’t forced there (I dont think), but rather chose to be there to support a great initiative.
Based on the MC’s estimate of numbers, around 50,000 people participated across the country in the walk. With a wheelchair being donated for every 75 walkers that participated, the figure should be around 670 wheelchairs… Quite an impressive feat! Although the final figure is not yet confirmed, anything around that figure would be fantastic.
The only bit of criticism that I have regarding the walk and the organisation is the following scenario that we experienced, along with a number of other people, just after the walk.
Our domestic worker managed to through away our race numbers, printed on a piece of paper, which meant that my girlfriend (as a Bidvest Employee) could not enter the raffle for many different prizes, and I could not enter the area where the post-walk food was provided as I did not have a “Guest” paper. I was extremely frustrated that simply by losing a piece of paper (which you have to baby-sit for a while) you miss out on so much post-race activity. Surely its simple enough to have one or two people at the entrance of the Velodrome, holding an iPad or similar device, who are able to verify whether you are worthy of entering. It should have been regarded as a reasonably possible risk which should perhaps have had some kind of back-up plan. And to enter the raffle… one small printer that can quickly print a lost ticket if you either lost yours during the week building up to the event, or if yours fell off while you were walking.
That is the only thing that I would suggest to make the walk better, but all-in-all, a great day on the road. I am definitely keen to do it again, get some exercise and make a difference. Well done Bidvest!