Ottosdal Draf & Trap – Established 1993
The Night Race originated as a project of the Afrikaans Business Chamber of Ottosdal which wanted to market the town and also wanted to improve the image of the town.
The talks started in 1992 at a Business Chamber meeting where I had to open. The persons present were Johan Kruger (Chairman), Rita Kruger (Secretary), Johan van Dyk, Gulliaume Foster, Fred Foster, Willie and Hannetjie van Wyk and I, also think Oom Hendrik van Jaarsveld, but I am not sure of him.
The meeting was convened because there were a lot of political undercurrents in the community that were reported in the newspapers from time to time.
It was decided that we should involve the people in the community again in sport and that we should offer something that is of such standard that the town will no longer be seen as a hindsight.
One of the actions was to involve the Outdoor Club’s sports representatives in the possible planning of such a project. It happened then when members of the Diamond Marathon Club, and also those involved in the Outdoor Club came up with the idea of hosting a night marathon as it has not been done anywhere else. The Bospoort road had very little traffic and ideally lent itself to it. The group of people who came up with the idea were Johan van Dyk (DMC and Wall Club member), Gulliaume Foster (DMC and Wall Club member), Ilse Otto (DMC and Wall Club secretary), Adriesa Foster (DMC and Tennis club secretary) and I as DMC member and Chairman of Squash Club.
We presented the proposal to the business chamber and the night marathon was born. The Chamber of Commerce would handle the community involvement and sponsorship and DMC had to handle the planning of the race. The race was then held for 2 years under the “Afrikaans Business Chamber” with Elano Supermarket as sponsor. (1993 and 1994). The race only consisted of a 42km distance and no other distances were done.
With the election in 1995, the Afrikaans Business Chamber dissolved and the Marathon would end. I then asked if I could ask the South congregation to run the Marathon together with DMC. I was aware that the congregation had been talking for a long time to do their Bazaar differently. The objection of the Bazaar was that the congregation make or donate the property and then have to buy it again. Our plan was, under the suggestion of Andrew du Plessis (who compiled a complete assignment on this), that we should get people from outside to have feet at the Bazaar who could buy the products.
The decision was then made to run the Marathon together with DMC. This would mean that the congregation would make their profit from the extra feet of the Marathon at the Bazaar and DMC would host the Marathon. Sponsorships received would be used by DMC for community projects. It would be used especially for the positive marketing of the town as a Christian community with integrity and a place to be proud of. There would also be an amount of development of sports in Ottosdal.
As the project grew and the Bazaar came into its own as a fundraiser for the church, more and more outside organizations were helped with money. The school received a scholarship every year, the nursery school received a donation every year, Onse Rus received a donation every year, the Soup Kitchen in Letsopa also received a donation and DMC started marketing sports in the black community ( If we remember correctly, that was what the race started for, including the white community). This resulted in the development team of DMC. The runners were also supported in being exposed to the sport and then motivating the community to participate again. Many of these members ran the Comrades, 2 Oceans and other well-known races and did very well.
The Marathon went so well that it burst out of its seams in its 10th year and we had to rethink the project. DMC sat down with the church council and we decided that we should change the race. The changes were, among other things, that we started a bike ride. Here Western Wheelers was approached to assist with the bicycle ride. We also decided to go out of our way to involve other people in the community and especially the other churches. The APK and Reformed Church were especially churches with which we struggled. The emphasis has shifted from a Bazaar for Southern congregation to a Community project for Ottosdal. The primary aim was always to market the town as a Christian community and to improve sports participation. It had to be of a standard that we could be proud of it and set us apart from just another backward rural town.
That was the history and origin of the Marathon, as I was part of it, from the Ottosdal 42km Nite Race until it became the Ottosdal Draf & Trap Festival.