Inspiring Runner 2017: Caryn Rushin
My sister Shauna and I started our running journey with a beginners group in September 2010 and by October 2010 the running bug had bitten both of us; despite the fact that running was never a sport that we participated in as youngsters. To challenge ourselves we entered The Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon taking place in April 2011.
Growing up, every Easter Saturday morning was spent supporting the runners along the route. Our parents would gather the family to support the runners along the main road between Wynberg and Fish Hoek. My brother, Grant, recalls Vincent Rakabaele, Brian Chamberlain and Hoseah Tjale in the men’s race. Our dad was a sports fanatic and he exposed us to all kinds of sports growing up. During this time it was still possible to drive along the route to support your favourite runner. Grant remembers us stopping along the route and waiting for the runners pass, then rushing to the next vantage point before making our way to the finish in Claremont.
Our Dad was extremely proud that my sister and I entered the race in 2011 and wanted to see us finish.
23 April 2011 arrived. Shauna and I found ourselves at the start of the Half Marathon as early as 4h50 alongside our close friends, also eager to participate. A first for many of them too. In the build up to the day there was lots of excitement and we elicited many of our friends and family to follow us along the route and track our progress. We were, after all, participating in the world’s most beautiful marathon. Our dad was most excited to support our efforts during a time that he was facing his own personal challenge, fighting cancer. Together with my 11 year old niece Kendra, our personal fan club made their way to the UCT finish by 7am. Dad was also keen to see the top runners finish while also securing a prime viewing spot to cheer on his daughters in their Half Marathon debut.
Being newbie runners, we finished within the last 20 minutes, just before the cut off. After overcoming what was at the time the most challenging route, but enjoyable run, reaching the entrance to the field on the top hill at UCT was welcoming. Unbeknownst to Shauna and I, my dad and Kendra were standing along the fence facing the runners as they turned to enter the finish straight. Neither of us missed them and they saw each one of us enter the finish – their faces showed more excitement than the relief we felt for achieving our first 21km medal in this most prestigious event. He made sure he saw each of our friends finish and waited to congratulate them personally. Sadly, our dad lost his battle to cancer 3 months later and that memory of him at the finish remains priceless to this day and is etched in our memories.
The running talk amongst our friends somehow convinced my brother, Grant, and his wife, Jenny, to attempt running. In September 2011, Grant and Jenny joined a beginners programme. Jenny, however, participated in race walking. OMTOM 2012 arrived and 3 Rushin siblings were at the start of the 21km event, despite the terrible weather that year. It was at the finish of the 2012 race that I realised that I could not miss running this event. When I entered the finish straight, in the torrential rain, I remembered my dad standing tall and proud on the spot where he stood the previous year. I knew then that he was proud that all his children were participating in an event that he supported from the mid-seventies. My mom, who was at the 2012 finish, beamed with pride as she stood in the rain to see us all finish.
Our running journey as a family continued to blossom. Jenny joined us at the start of OMTOM 2013 and 4 Rushins proudly completed the 21km that year. Shauna has since progressed to complete 2 Two Oceans Ultra’s. To our surprise, without realising, on completion of her first Ultra 2 years ago we found ourselves standing on the very same spot my dad stood in 2011 and she saw us as she entered to claim her first Ultra medal. While I no longer live in CT, and our running is at different levels, we enjoy training together as siblings and supporting each other. In 2016 Shauna completed the Comrades Marathon in her first attempt, while Grant and I ran our first marathon in September. From start to finish, the best 5 hours and 17 minutes spent with my brother!
OMTOM is a special race for us, we not only share it as a family, we share it with friends. We have established our own traditions around this event and celebrate everyone’s achievements. The memory of my dad at the finish is fondly remembered by our friends. Our friend, Kim Cupido, always reminds us how proud he was of everyone that morning, and OMTOM's 2011 theme “ This is Your Moment” resonates well with the memories we treasure.
Now that we are more experienced runners, we have joined new clubs to support our aspirations. Grant and I are proud members of Easy Equities Born 2 Run (CT and JHB clubs respectively) and Shauna is a member of Central Athletics. We believe our new clubs will support our efforts to further develop our running to achieve more goals. Perhaps an Ultra may well be on the cards for both Grant and I. We hope that all three of us can complete a Triathlon together in the future.
To our famiy, OMTOM will always be very special. We are supported by our mom, Jenny and Kendra along the route and at the finish. Grant, Shauna and I certainly #RunAsOne. We share a special bond that’s indescribable to others. The memory of our dad, our hero, our greatest supporter who unselfishly came to the finish that day in April 2011 remains with us and both Shauna and I look forward to reaching that spot he stood at each year. It seems crazy to run 21km and 56km for one spot, but it’s our motivation.
OMTOM certainly means much more to us than the medal - running together and encouraging each other constantly grows and nurtures our relationships as siblings.