Chances are if you live in Cape Town and love running, you’ve met the man known as ‘The Doctor of Shoes’.
Having worked at The Sweat Shop, a well-known specialist running store, for over nine years, Nicholas Rapunga is a man trusted by thousands of Cape Town runners over the years to help them find that perfect fit – his expert advice always accompanied with the genuine smile of a man who loves what he does.
But while Nicholas is a man in his element as he gets to engage with the running community on a daily basis, it’s on the trails that he truly comes alive. The 43-year-old Zimbabwean and family man has been one of the country’s top ultra-trail runners for over 15 years.
Previously a road runner, Nicholas moved to South Africa from Mashonaland in search of better work opportunities. In Cape Town, he met fellow trail runner Patrick Cox, who introduced him to the Mother City’s trail running circuit. In 2009 the pair teamed up for the multi-stage AfricanX, which they won on the first time of asking. For Nicholas, there was no looking back.
‘Trail running is something different. I found it a bit different to what I’d been doing for many years,’ Nicholas says. ‘By doing trail running I became a much better runner, less prone to injury.’
After so many years of success, you’d forgive Nicholas for easing back and giving the next generation an easier path to the winner’s podium but pressed on what he still wants to achieve, Nicholas admits he still has the ambition to achieve more.
‘The UTCT [Ultra-trail Cape Town] is something I really want to do well in. I’ve been running in these mountains for so many years so I know every corner of them.
‘The trail running community; the support they have given me in Cape Town is just unbelievable. Even where I’m working they come and support me. The community has done something big in my life, they’ve helped me so much, so I think if I can do well in UTCT, which is one of the biggest races in the Western Cape, that would be something for me to give to them.’