In Johannesburg, South Africa, 10,000 runners exercised their right to run at Nike’s inaugural Run Free. Run Jozi. The night-time 10k took place on Human Rights Day, March 21, a national holiday that honors fallen heroes who sacrificed their lives in the fight for democracy, and acknowledges the progress made towards human rights.
The racers, a combination of 10k first timers, regular runners and professional athletes, enjoyed a star-studded line-up of DJs and musicians who entertained the crowd pre- race, with global running icon Oscar Pistorius, ex-Springbok rugby player Ashwin Willemse and musician A.K.A. headlining the event.
“This is an amazing initiative from Nike, to motivate and inspire so many thousands of runners in one event. As true South Africans we’re celebrating our heritage on this significant day, and leaving our footprints in our city. Running, and this city will not quite be the same again,” said Pistorius.
The emotionally-charged runners sang the national anthem just before the horn sounded, sending them off into the night. The sea of yellow snaked from Nelson Mandela Bridge into the central business district before finishing in Newtown on Mary Fitzgerald Square.
City of Johannesburg’s MMC for Community Development, Cllr Chris Vondo, says the hosting of the Nike Run Free.Run Jozi race in partnership with the city has created a unique and memorable experience for runners and the community at large.
“The Nike Run Jozi event has cemented Johannesburg’s reputation as a premier sporting destination that’s increasingly becoming part of the global sporting community,” he said.
Over 150,000 runners from 15 cities across continents have already left their footprints upon the streets of their respective cities during the Nike We Run City 10K series, prior to this first-time race in South Africa.