1984 was a leap year that not only saw the fall of Marvin Gaye at the hands of his father, the release of the “Free Nelson Mandela” tune, the Nobel Peace Prize bestowed upon Desmond Tutu, the introduction of the Apple McIntosh and the announcement by the United States researchers of their discovery of the AIDS virus but it is also in the same year, that our lioness was born. As fate would have it many moons later she finds herself serving as a HIV Program Coordinator at the Gauteng Department of Health, in the Johannesburg Health District.
Ladies, gents and Cats, it is Wednesday and today we are crushing on Palesa Refiloe_Pout_Nene…
She is a gem born in Maseru, Lesotho, polished in the Free State, and now sparkles on the streets of Midrand, “the Fat Cats AC headquarters” she chuckles as she alludes to this.
Like 99.9% of runners, _the 0.1% being male_, she started running for weight loss purposes. When she defied the norm by going from a single 10km Spar race to surmounting the Centurion to Johannesburg City to City 50km ultra marathon, she knew then that there was no turning back, she was hooked. It was line and sinker when she noticed that the longer she ran, the stronger she became and the more weight she shed off. This soon paved way to her delivering on the ‘pinkie promise’ she made with her sister, one winter morning during their annual Comrades Marathon viewing session. They promised that atleast once in this lifetime they must swap viewership for a spot at the starting line. So in 2016, she ran her first Comrades Marathon. After months of training and weighing 15kgs lighter, in May 2016 Palesa lined up for her first Ultimate Human Race face off. “Although I did not finish that year, I knew that I would return to settle the score”. And she did! Not just once but ran it back-to-back in 2017 and then again in 2018, where she finished the down run with a BRONZE medal, in her #RedSkippa❤. “Now how’s that for settling the score!” This bears testament to the notion of never labouring in vain, as these are the fruits of hard work, determination and lots of heart!
“In all honesty the DNF in 2016 is what has kept me running. It motivated me to be better than I was that year and to date it still fuels the fire. It wakes me up every morning at 4am to go train with the Midcats’ 4:30am running crew.” She especially enjoys running with the crew because it alleviates the challenge of not having the luxury to just lace up and go for a run whenever she feels like it due to the risks that women are susceptible to when running alone.
From shedding over 15kgs and keeping it off, to the many beautiful souls and friends met through battling the tar, she declares, that running has taught her that if you want something bad enough and put in the effort, discipline and dedication, then you can achieve it. That life, just like running, is a personal journey, you are your own competition.
Since the wall of Jericho went down some centuries ago, she has set her eyes on conquering the Great Wall Marathon in China once in her life. She refers to running the 42.2kms up and down the Great Wall of China stairway, a knee crippling 5164 steps to those who count, as both “thrilling and fun”. _I will stick to the cheap thrills thank you very much_
She has a BA degree in Public Administration and Political Sciences. Her favourite pastime is ‘chilling’ with a good book because books provide great escapes and they allow her to feel.
She is Palesa Refiloe Nene and she runs to be better than she was yesterday. She runs to get in tune with herself. She runs to inspire and to be inspired. She runs for health. She runs to send the CAN DO message to little girls. She runs to rediscover herself, and yeah #SheRunsPeriod