Welcome To Regent Harriers
Regent Harriers is an informal running group unparalleled in the world. With the fundamental aim of being a Comrades Ultra-Marathon Training ground, but in the latter years attracting runners and walkers of all pedigrees, it is a group whose common goal is to keep fit and to do so while most “ordinary humans” are still tucked up snuggly in bed!
With over 1300 “members”, this running and walking community converges on the corner of Kensington Drive and Broadway in Durban North every Tuesday and Friday morning from about 5 am, to start a 10km route at 5.15am. This route is varied on these days, having been memorised by the “caller” and announced to the waiting throng, eager to set off at their own varied pace and strength. The front runners are able to sprint the route in about 40 minutes with the rest of the crowd coming in in dribs and drabs from then on. Slow runners are welcome and one should be confident in finding at least a few runners who are running at your pace, so that you are not left alone on the road.
Regent Harriers was formed in 1960 by the late Ron Clokie. He trained with workmates Gordon McNair, Dave Russell and Ruben Turkington, meeting for early morning runs at Regent Place where he lived – and they took the name of the group from their meeting place. Over the years, the group grew to such an extent that the meeting place had to be moved 1km down the road to a more manageable venue on the corner of Broadway and Kensington.
The success of Regent Harriers, lies in the group’s ability to bring people from different walks of life together, united by their passion for running or walking. “This passion levels everyone” says Brett Florens
The current route callers, Olly and Justin, have to take into consideration the amount of runners and try to avoid busy roads. “It has become such an incredible phenomenon. It is informal; you don’t have to worry about renewing licences or paying fees and you are free to come and go as you please,” says Olly.
The group has a high turnover of ‘members’, some training for events such as the Dusi Canoe Marathon or Iron Man, following which they usually relax and don’t join the group as often. Others are cyclists keeping fit when not cycling, but most are lifestyle athletes who just want to keep fit.
“Gone are the days of the 70s and 80s when people ran crazy distances. Priorities have changed. A lot of people just want to keep healthy,” says Brett. Everyone in the group has their own goals and their own reasons for being part of the morning run. “It’s an incredible support system to run with so many people. This morning someone complained about how hard the route was. Someone else immediately mentioned that one would never have done such a run on one’s own, but in a group you often push yourself beyond your limit.”
Another factor is that when running on your own, you often have no one to answer to except yourself, but when you’re in a group, your closer friends start questioning where you are if you don’t show up, says Olly.
A big advantage of the group is that inexperienced runners can gather a wealth of information from more experienced athletes, who are all too happy to share their knowledge.
“The group is so diverse, from elite athletes who have earned gold medals in the Comrades and Two Oceans marathons, to people weighing 120kg desperate to lose weight,” says Olly. Elite runners also join in, such as former Comrades winner Tilda Tearle and former Comrades gold medallist Carol Mercer and Marietjie Montgomery.
Mondays are rest days. On Tuesdays and Fridays, the group runs 10km, but never the same route. “We are proud to say in all the years, we have never called the same route for consecutive runs,” says Brett. On Thursdays, it’s a fixed hilly route of 10km.
Those runners who want to add some distance to their training can also join on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and these runs usually attract around 50 runners. These groups meet at different places, depending on the day:
Wednesdays at La Lucia Mall between Durban North and Umhlanga (12km or 15km run).
Saturdays at the Pick n Pay Hypermarket in Waterkant Road, Durban North (15km along the beachfront).
Sundays on the corner of Broadway and Kensington Drive (20km to 35km, depending on the time of year).
Many runners in the group belong to running clubs, but in Durban there is no culture of different clubs religiously meeting at their specific clubhouses every morning for training runs. “Durban is very different to Johannesburg! Our traffic is so much better and it takes most people less than 15 minutes to get to the morning runs. We only have time trials at our clubs in the evenings; no morning club runs,” says Justin.
Since May this year, Regent Harriers has also had its own website. “We encourage each other on the site and runners who have emigrated post their details, inviting SA runners to join them for a run when overseas,” says Olly.
So next time you’re in Durban and thinking of an early morning run, get yourself to the corner of Broadway and Kensington Drive and experience something amazing!
Regent Harriers strongly believes in giving back to the community and has a trust that manages funds collected for a designated charity each year, culminating in the group’s charity run on 16 December.
“We have so-called ‘bag ladies’ who collect money a couple of weeks before 16 December. Runners are free to donate money or not. Some runners have donated R5 000! Their generosity is amazing, but there is no pressure to give anything,” says Brett.
Then, on 16 December, everyone runs with Christmas hats. Afterwards, those who prefer can stay and have some refreshments right there on the pavement of the ‘clubhouse’.
- No Club Membership fees
- No Club Kit
- No Licence
- A passion for running and walking
Corner of Adelaide Tambo Drive and Swapo Road,