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It took a life-threatening moment to alter Farouk Meyer’s attitude to exercise. In his mid-twenties Meyer found himself on the operating table in Groote Schuur Hospital after doctors discovered he
had a stress-induced perforated ulcer.
He’d always been active while growing up but found he had little time for sport after his family and business commitments.
Shortly after the operation, Meyer came across an article on the latest endeavour of the often controversial professor from UCT, Tim Noakes, of The Tim Noakes Diet notoriety. The story detailed how Noakes had planned to help overweight novice runners with heart conditions train for their first marathon. Meyer, not being obese, didn’t fit the criteria but was invited to train with Noakes and his posse.
“I went along to the Rondebosch Common. I stayed with them for 12 weeks,” he says. “It changed my life,” says Meyer, who had been suffering the side-effects of medication until regular running had eliminated the
need to take it any more.
Noakes told him to join a running club as he had natural talent, which he later confirmed by running his first marathon in just over three hours.
Running quickly moved from a physical therapy to a career and he eventually became chairman of the Western Province Athletics Road Running Commission. At a meeting, Meyer said he would start the biggest club in the province. “Everyone laughed,” he says. Five years later, the club he founded – Itheko Sport Athletic Club – is indeed the biggest club in the Western Cape and the fastest growing club in South Africa. “What is phenomenal is that the club is made up of people who have never run or done sport before.”
Meyer, who’s now the chairman of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa, has changed lives through the sport that he discovered in his 20s. Now at the age of 62, he regularly races and is the head coach of the club he founded.