A runner with bone marrow cancer is inspiring South Africans with his strength and determination after being photographed during a marathon.
Renowned South African advocate for change, Yusuf Abramjee, spotted the runner and stopped to speak to him to find out why he was running with crutches.
When he heard his story, he posted it online immediately.
“I’ve just spotted this runner in Centurion running The Wally Hayward – he has bone marrow cancer. I salute his courage & will power.”
“Xolani Luvunu (32) is the runner’s name. He was running the 42km: Wally Hayward Race.”
“The man running with him was Hein Venter.”
“Hein tells me he picked-up Xolani near a bridge in Irene a year ago. He was homeless and addicted to Nyope. Hein got him off drugs and gave him a job at his perfume company… and finally got him into running.”
“Xolani lost his leg some 7/8 years ago because of bone marrow cancer.”
“And Xolani completed the 42km race. What an inspiring story.”
“We salute Xolani and Hein.”
The Wally Hayward Marathon is a tribute to one of South Africa’s greatest ever athletes that has been a fixture on the road running calendar for the past 40 years – an incredible run on Workers Day.
The Wally was first run on 30 June 1977 over 42.2 km, starting & finishing at Hoërskool Verwoerdburg. A 21.1 km, 10 km, 5km fun run and a 1 Km kiddies run were later added. Since 2005, the Wally has started and finished at Hoërskool Zwartkop, in Centurion.
According to Runner’s World magazine, the Wally is the third largest marathon in South Africa. Approximately 10 500 athletes participated in 2016 and even more ran in 2017.
The pictures have been circulating on social media since being shared, inspiring everyone that sees them.
Judy Von Pannier posted: “A lump in my throat and tears in my eyes seeing this hero. Your strength and courage has beaten the odds, my friend.”
Krista-lee Mejia added: “Amazing !!!! True hero and inspiration to many”
Collins Chauke said: “He’s my hero, he beats me every time we run”