Old Mutual has expressed its shock and deep regret at the death of much loved blind runner Richard Malose Monisi.
Monisi passed away this weekend, reportedly the victim of a hit and run accident in Johannesburg. He leaves behind his wife and two children.
Richard, a blind runner, recently finished the Comrades Marathon, where Old Mutual is one of the sponsors. He had previously participated in the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, Soweto and Om die Dam marathons.
Karen Thomas, Old Mutual Head of Brand, said Richard’s death was tragic and untimely: “It’s devastating to hear the passing of Richard. He was a talented man who, through a race as tough as Comrades, showed South Africa that anything is achievable when you set your mind to it. He has left behind a wonderful legacy of running.”
Just about a week ago, Monisi completed the 2017 Comrades ultra-marathon with “pilot” Andrew Hall.
Thomas introduced Andrew and Richard to each other, and challenged Andrew to run as pilot for Richard. She learnt that Richard had run most of the 2016 Comrades un-piloted and believed he could achieve a far better time should he have a guide for the full race.
“Andrew took up the challenge with incredible enthusiasm, passion and willingness,” shared Thomas.
Monisi’s kind spirit and sincere nature made his energy contagious. In appreciation of this, Thomas shared his story both this year and last year at the Elite Athletes’ prize giving, where attendees and prize winners were all incredibly moved by his courage and achievements.
Hall said he was “devastated” by Monisi’s departure.
“I was incredibly lucky to run as Richard’s pilot and to have known him for the short year. I am devastated. I can’t imagine what his family is feeling as well as his other running partners after such a tragic set of circumstances. We had the most amazing day only a week ago.”
Monisi has finished the Comrades Marathon thirteen times, and was the Old Mutual Spirit of Comrades winner in 2015. This year, he and Hall completed the course in 8:38:51, earning them each a Bill Rowan medal.
After the finish in Pietermaritzburg Richard said: “To run Comrades, my challenge was to prove just what we as blind runners can do. The other challenge is that we must not let ourselves down and we must show everyone that we can do it, just like a sighted person.” said Monisi.
“I think a lot more blind runners can run the Comrades and I think many more blind runners should set Comrades as a challenge for themselves.”
Hall said he finished the race feeling inspired by Richard’s modest nature and his drive to achieve something great.
“It was phenomenal to not only conquer such a big event, but doing it for the benefit of such a courageous individual made it that much more special. As a runner he was very strong and has done the event 13 times. As a person he was exceptionally humble and just an all-round great guy,” said Hall.
“His dedication to be able to train and run an event like this was mind blowing. Being blind made it very difficult to find work and Richard had no income to speak of. So taking into account all of his financial and physical hurdles, the fact that he had this dedication and motivation to get out there, and get himself in shape to run a sub-nine hour Comrades is just mind blowing,” said Hall.
As Richard said in an interview days before tragedy struck: “I’m proud to be blind. We don’t run behind. We run out there, in front.”
— Arrive Alive (@_ArriveAlive) June 13, 2017