Three decades with RWFL: Dave Lutman’s story

Run/Walk For Life is proud to have, among our members, people who have truly made RWFL’s philosophy and attitude towards health a part of their lives over many years.

One such person is Dave Lutman, who has been a RWFL member on and off for three decades.

In his own words, Dave tells us about his journey with running, and how Run/Walk For Life has been a seminal part of his fitness journey, even into his seventies.

“In 1987 my wife, Cathy, our youngest daughter, Ashleigh, and I relocated from Namaqualand to Johannesburg. Our two older children had completed their schooling and were now working.

“One day Cathy saw an advert for Run/Walk For Life in the local Florida newspaper and asked me if I would join with her. What a pleasure! Cathy had been a good athlete, but having three children between 1965 and 1974 made it almost impossible for her to keep fit.

“From then to 1991 the RWFL programme got us fit enough to complete many races, ranging from 10-kilometres through 15-kilometres, 21,1-kilometres, 30-kilometres and 42,2-kilometres, right up to the Comrades. Ashleigh, age 14, also joined with us, and eventually ran some half marathons with us. Whilst in Johannesburg, we had some wonderful years of running. Cathy and I always ran together, except when she allowed me to go for a personal best in both the half marathons and full marathons. When she went for a PB, I am proud to say I just managed to keep up with her!

“In 1995, at 51, I ran my first Comrades. I finished under the 11 hours, but the best part was having my family, Cathy and my two daughters, Kelly and Ashleigh, waiting for us at the finish. My son, Sean, then 25, ran with me. We both enjoyed it fully, but Sean said, “that’s it, Dad, I’ve proved I can do it – but not again!”

“I ran my second Comrades in 1993 and, again, my family was at the finish, including Sean. Comrades runners will agree that it is your family that pulls you through, both during the months of training and during the race itself.

“In the mean time, over the years, Cathy and I carried on running together. After all the races we ran over the years, my highlight was the World Veteran Games in 1997, held in Durban. Cathy, aged 51, and I, aged 57, ran together, of course.

“I was also involved with RWFL in Phalaborwa as a road mentor. I was fit enough to be able to give back some of the experience I had gained through my time with RWFL.

“When we retired to Somerset West, we joined one of the local running clubs.
In 2006, Cathy contracted cancer and we had to stop running for a time after her operation.

“In 2015 we re-joined RWFL, and all was well until October that year, when cancer hit Cathy again. I remember that well. Cathy had just finished her session one evening at RWFL when she started showing signs of disorientation. I mention this because this is when Mari, our manager, trainer and coach, showed her professionalism and caring attitude.

“She advised me to take Cathy to a doctor, as she was showing high blood pressure. We weren’t so keen at first, but on our way home, I went straight to the nearby Vergelegen Mediclinic. This was at approximately 19:00, and when she had her first seizure at the clinic. She was kept in overnight and a brain scan showed cancer had attacked her brain.
Obviously, there was no more running, and on 26 July 2016 she had her second seizure, leaving her unconscious for three weeks, until she passed away on 17 August 2016.
I was devastated, and did no more exercise for over a year.

“At the end of 2018 I came to my senses and re-joined RWFL, and I am pleased to say I have never looked back. I only realised then, at age 77/78, how much more difficult it is to get running fit. It took a year on the field and a lot of patience and coaching from Mari to get me back on the road and running 4 km.

“As can be seen, RWFL has played a large part in the health and fitness of my family and I over the past 30 or more years.”

Dave, we are proud to still have you as a RWFL member today. Thank you for contributing in your own way to helping our members stay healthy and fit, and thank you for again reminding us how running and walking does far more than simply keeping us fit.