FOR 50 years the Oosterlig has sponsored a walk from Uitenhage to Port Elizabeth.
One of the participants was legendary walker and later athletics administrator Les Barnes.
Along the route he encountered a couple, and while chatting he discovered that Quentin Vermaak and his wife Joey (now late) did not belong to a club. Always on the lookout for new members for PE Athletic Club, Barnes recruited the couple.
The rest is history.
Fast forward 50 years and Vermaak, now 82, can still be seen pounding the highways and byways of the metro.
The Lorraine Manor resident is a regular feature at races, sporting a jacket festooned with badges from all the places he has walked.
These include five 50km SA championships and numerous 21km and 10km race badges.
If one adds up all the kilometres he has walked – both in races and training – he would probably have gone around South Africa.
Vermaak’s enthusiasm and drive has inspired numerous junior athletes – especially from his home town, Uitenhage.
According to Barnes, the roadrunning fraternity always marveled at Vermaak’s dedication – he though nothing of travelling by train from Uitenhage with a group of youngsters in tow.
“We cannot all be champions, but we can all strive to be the best we can and reach our own Everest,” the octogenarian said.
“Whether you come first or last is not important as having competed”.