Military academy students do hard yards along coast

You’re in the army – now what?
Well, if you are part of the buff bevy from the barracks at the Stellenbosch Military Academy, you spend 14 days running, swimming and riding from Qunu to Saldanha Bay for charity.
On Friday military academy students spent the fourth day of their annual 14-day multi-endurance race in Port Elizabeth.
The aim of the event is to give back to communities along the Eastern Cape and Garden Route coast.
The group was at Hobie Beach on Friday morning where running, swimming and cycling teams took on Port Elizabeth both on land and sea.
The race started in Nelson Mandela’s hometown of Qunu on Monday, with participants stopping at seven cities and towns before reaching their final leg, on December 8, in Saldanha Bay – where a satellite base of the Stellenbosch University Faculty of Military Science is situated.
Team member Lieutenant Gurshem Nelson, from Port Elizabeth, said the purpose of the academy’s endurance race was to bridge the gap between civil society and the SA defence bodies.
The more than 300 students started raising funds to cover the race finances in June by selling hot dogs and collecting donations.
Nelson, 32, said that during the race various other teams go into the communities to interact with residents and give donations.
“Our main aim for the endurance race is to have a social impact on the community and also engage the community as to what it is we are about as the military academy,” Nelson said.
The money raised this year will go towards early childhood development and a sanitary towel drive.
In Port Elizabeth the charity team had started at Van Stadens Primary with a sanitary towel drive, Nelson said.
The “land team” visited Fontein Primary, where they donated a 950l Jojo tank for water collection, three rugby balls, and paint, colouring books, charts and crayons.
The team installed two doors at the Yellowwoods school and donated a laminating machine.
While the energetic land group went into the Bay community, the sea, cycling and running team went on to Jeffreys Bay where they were to spend the night.
Military academy dean Professor Sam Tshehla, 47 – who was part of the running team – said during the race students had to interact with people and convince them to donate money, which is a skill they could only learn on the ground.
“It’s important for the state itself in the form of the military academy to work closely with the community so the students can learn the living conditions of the people on the ground.
“In that context we tend to have better leaders.”

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