Bridge the Gap is a global movement which connects urban running clubs from cities around the world. Meet the running crews in Johannesburg and Cape Town who are inspiring people to take back the streets.
Mindset Movement — Cape Town
For Mindset Movement founder, Kyle Evans, the physical barriers he broke through hitting the asphalt translated into breakthroughs in life. “I overcame crippling adversity through running,” he says. “Running quite literally saved my life.” Developed by Kyle, the Mindset Movement training done at odd hours and in all weather conditions, encourages grit and stamina. “It allows people to bring some adversity into their otherwise comfortable lives and gives them a platform to overcome difficult challenges,” he says. “Endurance running has proven highly beneficial for confidence, resilience and mental fortitude — bringing a stability to life that can make daily challenges appear a lot less daunting and chaotic.”
Mindset Movement defines itself as not just a running crew and more of a family that pushes and supports each other. “We often hear feedback that our community is amazing because everyone is so supportive of each other’s goals,” Kyle says. “It doesn’t matter whether you are running 100 miles or just starting off and trying to complete your first 5km; everyone bands together in a spirit of encouragement. It’s great to witness everyone holding each other accountable for their goals. A little healthy competition doesn’t hurt either!”
Mindset Movement photography by Roy Wrench.
Running quite literally saved my life.
– Kyle Evans
Thesis Run Cru — Soweto
“We want to encourage the masses to start running wherever they are with whoever is readily available,” says Thesis Run Cru founder Wandile Zondo. The running collective is an offshoot from his successful Thesis Lifestyle streetwear brand and store based in Soweto. Their motto is #WeLeaveNoOneBehind and their aim is to foster an urban running culture that anyone can subscribe to. Thesis Run Cru captain, Thami Hlatshwayo says, “[Exercising as a community offers] the freedom to be with like-minded people whether you are a marathon veteran or taking your first steps towards your first race. Thesis Run Cru provides easy access to an affordable and friendly environment to exercise and keep fit.”
We want to encourage the masses to start running wherever they are with whoever is readily available.
– Wandile Zondo
The Nine Four — Cape Town
The Nine Four is a tight-knit, Cape Town-based crew founded by photographer/director Paul Ward for other young creatives to work hard and play hard together. “The Nine Four’s main focus is not running, running is the vehicle through which we connect,” Paul says. “Friendship and self-growth within the community setting is the heart of The Nine Four. Although we spend a lot of our time running together, the extra mural activities, from braai’s to annual international tours is where a lot of the ‘family bonding’ happens.” The crew is kept small and members are kitted out in a branded uniform.
The club takes its name from 1994, the year South Africa became a democratic state. They chose the name to represent the mix of people the club’s made up of. “I think community gives you strength when you don’t have it yourself,” Paul says. “The beauty of community within running is that running is a completely individual sport, you have to achieve your goals, but the community can make what you thought impossible alone, possible together.”
The Nine Four photography by Ramon Mellet.
Braamfie Runners — Johannesburg
Braamfie Runners is a collective of runners from beginners to elite athletes who train together in Johannesburg and compete side by side in major marathons like the Comrades. “We run through the scenic streets of Johannesburg like Maboneng, Houghton and Westcliff,” says team captain Thabang Mokoena. “Running as a crew has become popular, partly due to security concerns around running alone as well as the sense of community that the group affords members and visitors alike.” The Braamfie Runners are easy to spot in races and fun runs, carrying signs with encouraging slogans. “Runners strive to be a better person while having the support system to work towards their goals,” Thabang says. “And there are people around to celebrate these achievements with.”
There are people around to celebrate these achievements with.
– Thabang Mokoena