Nikki Kemp is taking on her first full marathon on Sunday November 22, the day before her 32nd birthday. And while this may not seem like a new challenge to many it most definitely is for her.
Nikki, 31, of Plumstead is cerebral palsied.
On Sunday she will be running from Bergvliet Sports Association to Jubilee Square in Simon’s Town and will then turn around and run back again.
Even though this will be an incredible achievement for Nikki, she has decided to use the race as a fund-raiser in support of the Chaeli Sports and Recreation Club, which promotes running, cycling and dancing for adaptive athletes and individuals living with disabilities.
“For most of my life, people have told me what I can’t do,” she said.
“When that happens, something triggers my ‘I can’ button, and I set out to prove them wrong.”
In March 2019, Nikki started physical rehabilitation with the Walking with Brandon Foundation. After a few sessions, she realised that she was on the path to improving her mobility. It was also then that she decided to pursue running.
Two months later, she signed up for her first official race, the FNB Cape Town 12km race from Milnerton to Cape Town city centre.
“And I won my first medal, completing the race in 1 hour and 42 minutes. The running bug had bitten, and I was soon studying the Western Province Athletics race calendar for my next race,” said Nikki.
Meanwhile, she joined the Chaeli Sports and Recreation Club running club and received her first Athletics South Africa race number.
Nikki’s next race was her first half marathon, the Cape Town Festival of Running, in July 2019. She completed the 21.1km in 3 hours and 11 minutes.
The following month, Nikki entered the John Korasie 30km, a race that seasoned runners find challenging. Nikki experienced cramps on the left side of her body. At the 24km mark, she met Trevor, a runner from Hewett Running Club, who was battling with issues of his own.
The two agreed to finish the race together.
Chaeli Campaign CEO Zelda Mycroft was at the end waiting for Nikki, and when the cut-off time came and went, she became concerned.
Sharron Brouckaert, from Spartan Harriers Running Club, spoke to Zelda who expressed her concern for Nikki. Sharron had completed the race but offered to go back in search of Nikki and came across the two determined runners at the 27km mark.
They ran the remainder of the race together and crossed the finish line to cheers and tears.
This was the start of a strong friendship between the two women, and when Nikki expressed her interest in tackling a full marathon, Sharron agreed to be by her side.
Nikki is encouraging individuals to join her along the route by either running with her for a portion of the run or alternatively to support by cheering them on as they make their way to the finish line.
Nikki is asking for support in this fund-raising initiative for the Chaeli Sports and Recreation Club that was established after the Chaeli Campaign identified a need for inclusive sporting and social activities.
The club welcomes both disabled and able-bodied participants to compete, often as adaptive duo teams in the sporting codes of cycling, road running and ballroom/Latin American dancing.
Contact the Chaeli Sports and Recreation Club by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org