If you’re a runner in KZN, you’ll likely have heard of Dean Wight and his training runs, Beloved Long Runs, that take place all over KZN. What started as a small informal training group has grown to support hundreds of KZN runners on their weekly long runs and involves running clubs from across the province.
Dean is renowned for his customary, “Hello, hello”, in unison with shaking his knees as the start to every route briefing. His passion for the sport is tangible and infectious and he has supported and inspired countless runners to achieve their goals.
We chatted to Dean Wight about his passion for the sport.
You got hooked on running from an early age (11). What is it that you love most about our amazing sport?
Definitely the people. Runners are just amazing humans and I’ve come across some seriously amazing individuals. Some of them have even become like family.
Every weekend (when we’re not in a pandemic) you can be found arranging long runs for literally hundreds of runners. What drives you to help so many fellow runners?
The results that each individual achieves. I get my joy out of seeing and being part of so many achievements. I try my best to enquire about each person’s goals and ambitions and if Beloved Long Runs (BLR) contributes in any way to helping them achieve those goals, then I’m a happy chap!
For 3 years in a row, you have run the Comrades Marathon for charity and been the top charity fund-raiser for the race, in aid Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust (HACT). What motivates you to run for a cause?
My biggest driving force is that I can use my passion to help others. BLR helps runners achieve their goals and, in turn, those runners help me raise funds for HACT. It’s really just the love of giving back.
What’s truly amazing is that you still managed to raise over R 402 000 for HACT in 2020 even though the Comrades was cancelled. How did you manage this?
Well that’s an interesting story, also a bit of a long story. Back in 2017 I got a phone call from Sally at HACT asking if they could use BLR to promote their Charity as it had just been accepted as an official Comrades charity. After a cup of coffee, I decided to run for them and set my initial target at R10 000. Then I said to myself (yes, us runners talk to ourselves), “Don’t be a poephol”. BLR had one thousand followers at that stage, so I thought maybe I could get one hundred rand each (that’s a few cans of Crème Soda) and revised my first target to R100 000. Once I posted my run for charity campaign on social media, I got a call from an old family friend who said she would donate R100 000 and on the day, I achieve my R100 000 target. That first year we raised R327 000. When 2019 arrived, I set my target at R350 000 and she donated another R200 000 that year.
Then 2020 arrives and I’m raising my odds and ends. When we got hit with COVID, I was only on R80 000, so I changed my target to R100 000. And yes you guessed it, my family friend phones to see what’s the latest with regards to Comrades and the charity race. So I tell her that there will be no Comrades and I’m just going to run 90km around my neighborhood. I was content with the fact that I was leading the charity race and should achieve R100 000. She then says that she’s still going to donate and to let her know when it closes. Well, on the Friday before the campaign closes, she sends me a message and says, “God is good”, and you guessed it – R300 000 was deposited into HACT’S account. (She wants to stay anonymous.)
Having completed 28 Comrades marathons, you know all about the dedication that it takes to train for the Ultimate Human Race. What keeps you going back?
I keep going back for the simple love of the race and the comradery that it brings out in runners. My most favorite quote is that it’s the “BEST DAY OF THE YEAR”.
After 28 finishes, have you figured out yet what the secret is to running a good Comrades?
Have fun and don’t overthink it. Just remember why you decided to run and if you run with a purpose, you’ll have a GREAT Comrades. Everyone runs Comrades for a particular purpose or reason, it could be a life goal or have some personal meaning. Hold onto that, especially when you’re not feeling great.
You have already been an inspiration to so many runners. What advice or tips can you offer to new runners?
Roll with the punches, expect the injuries and the tough runs. Running is just like life – you get out what you put in. Rest when you’re tired and never try play catch-up with mileage you might have missed due to illness or injury. It’s important to always have fun.
If you live in KZN, follow Beloved Long Runs on social media and join them for a long run.
Instagram – @belovedlongruns
Facebook – Beloved Long Runs (KZN)