In 1865, William Ross Wallace wrote a frequently quoted poem called “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle is the Hand that Rules the World”. As far back as the memory of humanity serves, motherhood has been recognised as the preeminent force for change in the world. One such motherly powerhouse, Maxine Reilly, has been a regular at our Spur Cape Trail Series® events over the past 10 years, bringing her talented running offspring along to many of them. During this time, and throughout her own consistently impressive racing performances, Maxine has watched with pride as her son, Kane, developed his career as a semi-pro trail runner. Kane is a regular on SA trail podiums, and recently finished 5th in one of the most competitive Mont Blanc Marathon fields in history; Maxine was possibly the proudest mom on the finish line.
We asked Kane how different his running career might have been, without his mom’s inspiration and support.
Photo credit: Andre Gie
“I was sent this photo, taken by a friend at the finish of the Mont Blanc Marathon last month, which opened that very question in my mind.
My mom, or the “Master” Maxine Reilly, has been an inspiration, pillar of support and voice of reason throughout my life as a runner. My Mom and Dad are simply outdoors people. I think it is the home environment I grew up in that sculpted me into someone who finds happiness in the outdoors and through movement, more specifically the mountains.
Some of my most powerful early memories are running with my parents on Wilderness beach or through Newlands forest. Getting into trail running seems to have always been a forgone conclusion - given my mom’s passion for running and our family’s addiction to the outdoors.
Ever since I got serious about running and racing in high school, my mom became a one woman army of a support crew! Over the years I’ve had loads of people through whom I’ve gained inspiration, knowledge and help, but my mom has been the real rock throughout, making sure that all the Reilly children are happy and successful (always happy first, success has been a by-product). From hassling Big Steve into making me part of the Salomon family, to flying across the world to support me at the Mont Blanc Marathon. Our family goes by ‘Blood is thicker than water” and I have always valued my parents values and guidance above all others.
When I went through a tough year without running due to an autoimmune arthritis my mom did more to get me through than I can express in this article - but I can say that without her I wouldn’t have come out the other side the way that I did.
My mom is a legend”.
Maxine describes the depth of pride she felt as she supported Kane from the side lines of the Mont Blanc Marathon, witnessing him mixing it up with names like Killian Jornet in one photo frame.
“It was huge. Kane has had two disastrous races in Europe and had not shown his true ability. This time he had the experience and confidence to do himself proud and it's wonderful to see how he has grown.”
What was the side line vibe like? Is it more stressful watching your son racing, or lining up yourself?
“One hundred percent more stressful watching. Kane looked so relaxed and strong chatting to Marc Laurenstein when we saw him at about 11km into the race, and then he dropped of the live feed! And his position kept ticking up. I was convinced something had happened and so disappointed for Kane! About an hour later I got a message to say that he was coming 6th! Pure joy and excitement once again! The finish line at the top of the mountain was amazing...waiting to see Kane in the distance felt like an eternity. Watching runners like Killian, Max King, Marc Laurenstein come past and then Kane… was pretty unbelievable.”
How do you think the way you raised your family has influenced their love of the trails? What advice would you give to other parents in terms of encouraging their children without putting them under pressure?
“From a very young age (before they could walk) we had them in backpacks up the mountain. Guess it could have gone either way, but we always had fun and luckily the result was positive. School cross country is a wonderful starting point for kids and then the great Spur Trail Series® had a huge influence on all of them. I think the emphasis was always on the joy of being outdoors and there was a natural progression from there to running on trail”.
Maxine and one of the other talented Reillys; daughter Sam