For many people around the world, running is a way to keep fit, spend time outdoors and to enjoy some self-reflection.
Not many runners, however, go on to become Six Star Finishers. A ‘Six Star Finisher’ is the title given to those who complete the prestigious Abbot World Marathon Majors, a series of six of the world’s biggest and most celebrated marathons. Once an individual completes the BMW-Berlin Marathon, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, the TCS New York City Marathon, the Tokyo Marathon, the Boston Marathon and the Virgin Money London Marathon, he or she obtains the Six Star Marathon Medal. As of April this year, 3786 people around the globe have earned their Six Star status since the advent of the series in 2006. Currently, 29 South Africans hold the title, but Lance and Kim Katz of Cape Town are fast sprinting towards upping that number.
Kim, has completed the Berlin (2017), London and Chicago (both 2018) Marathons, while her husband has run five of the six (between 2015 and this year). He hopes to run the Boston Marathon in April 2019, the completion of which would see him awarded the Six Star Marathon Medal. While Lance has been running for most of his life, he completed his first full marathon in 2014, when he ran the Jerusalem Marathon, and has not looked back since. He recollects, “As a kid I ran quite long distances, because I used to run with my dad who was training for the Comrades… never a marathon but almost: at eleven years old I ran 32kms.”
Kim on the other hand began running a bit more recently: “I’ve been running for the past five or six years but not these kinds of distances. I thought, well, if other people can do it within the cut-off time, I’m going to give it a go.” Like her husband, Kim’s first marathon experience was running the Jerusalem Marathon in 2014, except that she completed the half-marathon, which she generally favours to full marathons. “I can’t say marathons are a passion of mine. I prefer half marathons for enjoyment…My incentive has been to try keep up with my husband…he wanted to do the Six Majors and I insisted I come as a support… I realised that I’d be supporting him throughout the other[s], so I decided I might as well get on the road.”
When asked about their favourite of the series marathons, Lance and Kim had different highlights. For Lance, “The New York Marathon was the best vibe. It’s just an amazing race. You run through all five Burroughs of New York, the crowd support is incredible and then it finishes in Central Park.” Kim recounted, “The Berlin Marathon [w]as my first international and… I felt like I was walking in my ancestors’ footsteps. Every time I wanted to give up I thought, well my pain pales in significance to our ancestors’ and the struggle that they endured through the Holocaust…very emotional and very powerful…. It was kind of like we’d come back after they tried to exterminate us.”
Even though the Jerusalem Marathon is not part of the Six Majors, Kim noted that “the comradeship among your own people [in the race] is really special.” Lance added that marathon running has “enabled us to go and visit some amazing places…. Berlin was very significant for us and I might not have gone [there] if it weren’t for the marathon.”
If Lance and Kim’s past running exploits are anything to go by, there can be no doubt that soon they too will have their names added to the list of Six Star Finishers.