The Cape Town marathon is a gruelling 42.2km route that attracts between 500 and 800 runners from around the world.
For a group of 20 friends who took part in this year’s event on Sunday, the marathon was the perfect stage to speak out in support of the environment.
The bold group of friends decided to carry their message with them on their run — strapping tree saplings on their backs
Their mission is to raise awareness to encourage the planting of native trees in order to help tackle climate change and mitigate its impacts.
Native plants are those that occur naturally in the region where they are found.
A great day out at Africa's major @CTMarathon with the #MovingForest aiming to plant 2019 trees to #GreenKhayelitsha. Marathon #225 done & one of the funnest yet.— The Running Mann (Marathons & Mischief) (@runningmann100) September 15, 2019
Thanks to 2018 SA Champ @conrad_nolene on photographer duty.#RunSouthAfrica🇿🇦https://t.co/1Ntv1jIyropic.twitter.com/pBYcuP4XK3
They don’t need as much water as plants that do not grow naturally in their environments, which makes native plants critical to managing freshwater sources.
Native plants are an important aspect of conservation efforts.
In Cape Town, native plants are becoming more than just a means of protecting water sources; they are giving hope that the city can survive bouts of droughts and water shortages — like those that turned the city’s taps dry last year.
Siyabulela Sokomani is an environmental activist and managing director at Shoots & Roots, a tree sapling grower and tree supplying business based in Paarl, in the West Cape.
Sokomani told Reuters news agency that he ran the Cape Town marathon with a wild olive sapling on his back to raise money to plant 2,000 trees in Khayelitsha, where he was born and raised.
“There were no trees in the township where I grew up,” he said.
I'm still buzzing from yesterday https://t.co/9e9Mua8iWJ— Siya (@Psya83) September 16, 2019
Like many townships in South Africa, Khayelitsha has very limited greenery and green spaces.
This is something that Sokomani, who was inspired to care for the environment by his school teacher, has started fighting to change.
On Mandela Day in 2018, Sokomani helped plant 67 trees at his former school. He is also the co-founder of Township Farmers, which promotes agriculture and farming in townships.
South Africa, like much of Africa, has started feeling the effects of climate change.
The country has been experiencing droughts and water shortages around the Western Cape, as well as in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Free State, and Limpopo provinces.
All things @ctmarathon talking moving forest and @townshipfarmers#run4change2019@capetimes— TownshipFarmers (@TownshipFarmers) September 14, 2019
Last year, the City of Cape Town declared the water shortages it was experiencing as a result of drought a “crisis” — the first time one of the world’s major cities faced such severe water shortages.The city even warned residents about Day Zero, in April 2018, when taps would be completely dry.
Day Zero was eventually averted but municipalities across the country are still facing water shortages.