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WATCH: South African trail runner Thabang Madiba

Trail running gave Madiba a way to inspire his community

Salomon’s new film about South African trail runner Thabang Madiba is equal parts humbling and inspiring. Growing up in poverty in the townships of Pretoria, Madiba somehow found his way into trail running. He has won the South African trail running championships multiple times, and was the first black South African to represent his country at international trail races.

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“I guess I had that burning desire in me when I was a little boy… If something didn’t work out well, especially when I was still young, I would just go out and run. When I was angry, I would run. I would run, just to take out the anger. And whenever I’m sad, I would go and run. Run and cry along the way. It helped me so much. I think my life would be messed up by now, especially with the life in the community, the friends we used to have… Africa is tough, guys.

“Poverty was something that drives me crazy. I always wanted to be out of poverty. Growing up in my community is like survival of the fittest. You are forced to work at a very young age.”

Upon graduating from high school, Madiba was awarded a sports bursary to attend university, but he turned it down, because his family needed him to work. He earned $10 a week. “That 10 dollars was huge,” he says. But Madiba continued to run, and eventually his hard work resulted in sponsorship and success on the trails.