Exchanging desks and fire engines for IRONMAN gear

Elevated to a select group chosen to represent the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality at the grueling Standard Bank IRONMAN SA in April, municipal officials are enthused by the opportunity to build on their athletic achievements.

The team, comprising Achmat Ellie, Godfrey Gelderbloem (both firefighters), Machfooz Jappie (waste management) and Kevin Benadé (quality control officer: low cost housing) say the experience and grit to complete IRONMAN races prepares them for life’s daily challenges.

Benadé, finisher of 10 IRONMAN African Championships and three 70.3 IRONMAN Buffalo City events, says he is honoured to receive a slot and would like to show his gratitude by doing well on the day. “My dream is to change the mostly negative public perception of government officials by doing the best I can in whatever endeavour I undertake. Before I started participating in IRONMAN in 2007, I was a couch potato, but my life changed dramatically since then. I now live a healthier and more active lifestyle and in doing so, I have found myself in a group of likeminded friends who aim to better themselves every day. I would like to encourage fathers to be the example you want your kids to be,” said the married father of three.

Senior Fire Officer Godfrey  Gelderbloem has been an active athlete since 1998, and decided to compete in the IRONMAN African Championship for the first time in 2010 because “it looked like fun”. He completed the same grueling race six more times which brings his tally to seven full IRONMAN finishes and three 70.3 IRONMAN Buffalo City events. “I enjoy my work as a firefighter and incorporate the valuable lessons I learnt while competing to approach challenges more maturely and strategically. When we go out to a fire, I am inclined to first assess a situation thoroughly before acting,” said Gelderbloem.

Achmat Allie, a veteran firefighter for 35 years, says he mostly trains early in the morning to juggle a demanding work schedule, training and competitions. “I am inspired to make a difference in the lives of people with the execution of my duties every day. I would like to encourage working fathers to keep fit and make time for their families. I am especially honoured to be given an opportunity to represent the municipality at the 2018 Standard Bank IRONMAN,” said the seven-time full IRONMAN finisher.

Although Machfooz Jappie’s work to ensure municipal bylaw compliance is far removed from his achievements on the track, this dedicated family man remains focused on his goals. He usually trains as early as 4am and makes as much time as possible after work to supplement his workouts. Jappie has finished three full IRONMAN races and four 70.3 IRONMAN events. “I am promoting a healthy lifestyle and am very happy that I am still strong enough to compete in the Standard Bank IRONMAN African Championship at the age of 60,” said Jappie.

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor Athol Trollip said these officials are shining examples of determination and the benefits of living healthy lifestyles. “I wish them all the best and I am sure that they will be excellent flag bearers for the municipality,” Mayor Trollip said.

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