Gerrie Bosman has had two knee replacements, but that hasn’t stopped him completing his 1000th run along Chapman’s Peak Drive.
The 64-year-old, who lives just over a kilometre from the Farm Village, in Noordhoek, was an avid social runner until an old school-rugby injury and years of pounding the road started taking their toll on his knees.
In 2017, both his knees were replaced simultaneously and he was advised against running. However, Covid-19 prompted a change in perspective, he says.
In May 2020, Gerrie, against medical advice, decided to embark on daily 6km or 12km runs run along Chapman’s Peak Drive.
“We were still under lockdown with only the exercise window from 6am to 9am, and I felt so good having something to do outside.“
The initial goal, he says, was simply to “stumble down the hill with crutches” and reward himself with a beer.
The routine quickly turned into a ritual, and little did he know that this decision would lead to an incredible running streak.
“I wanted to feel the pleasure again of the exercise (endorphins I suppose), and living where we do in the magnificent nature, it was automatic for me to go do the exercise outside.”
Gerrie started counting his runs, and he set milestones for celebration. By the time he reached his 100th run, he was on a roll and decided to aim for an ambitious 1000 runs.
On the 200th run, a fellow runner gave Gerrie a runner figurine made from Chappies rock, marking a moment of camaraderie that defined his experience on the mountain.
Gerrie also has specific landmarks along his run on Chapman’s Peak Drive, and one of them is known as Gerrie se Gat.
“I gave this landmark its name after I skidded into it one morning and ended up with a branch that had slightly cut my scalp,” he tells the Echo.
Asked whether there are days when he doesn’t feel like going for a run, he says, “I always want to run now because I think about all the people I’ll miss seeing up there, including those in cars and even a few who commute to Hout Bay by bicycle.”
Gerrie calculated that he could reach 4000 runs before he was 75 if he just did it as often as he could.
“Then I calculated that if I ever can get to 6680 runs, walking or crawling, doesn’t matter, as long as I keep going, I would have done the circumference of planet Earth, on Chappies.“
His 1000th run on Thursday January 18 became a celebration, with a group of people joining Gerrie for his special moment.
“I was like Forrest Gump, but the other way round: Forrest was ahead; in my case, I brought up the rear,” he says, referring to the 1994 film, starring Tom Hanks.
Karoline Hanks, who was among those who joined Gerrie for his 1000th run, says he brings a smile to all he passes on Chappies.
“His enthusiasm and joy for life is infectious. We loved all his stories and landmarks along the way.”
Finoa Birch, who also joined in on the day, describes Gerrie as an “absolute legend”.
“Climbing Chapman’s Peak Drive is no easy feat, especially 1000 times after having both knees replaced. Rain or shine, it’s an incredible achievement,” she says.
“The number of runners who came to join him reflects the positive impact of his unique brand of positivity over the years. He entertained us with anecdotes about the people and places he encountered on his numerous trips along that beautiful stretch of road. It’s a morning that will stay with me for a very long time.“