Purple speedos everywhere: Thousands of men run 5km around SA for cancer awareness

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Testicular cancer is the most common cancer affecting males between the ages of 15 and 35. Prostate cancer affects as many 1 in 6 men and is predicted to become the most common cancer in South Africa by 2030. Perhaps more alarming is the fact that black African men have a 60% higher risk of developing prostate cancer than their white counterparts. Early detection, however, dramatically increases the odds of fully recovering from these cancers and can save lives.

Raising awareness of the importance of early detection is exactly why thousands of men, dressed only their purple speedos, gathered at Johannesburg’s Zoo Lake today for the Hollard Daredevil Run.

“Running in just a speedo is something that asks a lot of men, more than most people understand. But dealing with cancer asks a great deal more. And that’s part of why this platform works so well in helping people understand the importance of catching these cancers early,” says Warwick Bloom, Head of Group PR at Hollard.

This annual 5km run has become a nationwide phenomenon, with all proceeds going to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) and the Prostate Cancer Foundation of South Africa.

“Increasing awareness of the signs and symptoms of various cancers and offering advice on how to adopt a healthier lifestyle helps to empower men to take control of their own health, lower their risk of cancer and encourage earlier detection,” says Gerda Strauss, Head of Service Delivery for CANSA.

“These events are critical as they generate massive educational opportunities on a national level to educate men and boys about prostate and testicular cancer,” says Andrew Oberholzer, CEO of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of South Africa.

This year’s event at Zoo Lake comes after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Increasing the event’s reach this year is the fact that men were invited to run anywhere in any province in South Africa. Neighbourhoods, schools, corporates and sports clubs arranged numerous satellite runs across the country.

Today saw groups running at parliament in Cape Town, a team tackling Lions Head, runners participating from the Union Buildings in Pretoria, around the Big Hole in Kimberley and along Umhlanga beach. There was also a team of game rangers running in the Kruger National Park and groups, some in their hundreds, in many other cities and rural communities across South Africa.

“We are so glad to have been able to get back to Zoo Lake this year and are blown away by the support we have received – not only here, but in many other areas around the country. The act of stripping down to nothing but a speedo is not only daunting for runners, but also challenges stereotypical male behaviour, which often stops men from tackling health issues,” says Heidi Brauer, Chief Marketing Officer at Hollard. “With this event, we are asking South African men to confront male cancers head-on by showing that they’re not afraid to run in a speedo, not afraid to talk about cancer and not afraid to get checked. Because catching these cancers early means better futures for those men unlucky enough to contract them, better futures for their families, and, ultimately, better futures for communities around the country.”

Over 3 000 men took part at Zoo Lake today, with numbers from around the country taking the tally of brave daredevils up to 5 000.

Please find photographs and footage here from all the runs taking place around the country, in every province, including edited video footage.