Mark van Niekerk is a South African born running, environmental and sport enthusiast. After an exhaustive search to combine his passions and to be provided with an opportunity to work with people meaningfully, he was delighted to discover the Go! Running franchise, a brand that represents these wishes and which has been established on solid principles. Go! Running Lyon was born shortly thereafter!
Mark has had a diverse career stretching the past 15 years. He has a Masters degree in Biology and has previously worked in Southern Africa as a professional safari guide, lodge manager and renewable energy project manager. He moved to France in 2014 and now lectures part-time at two universities in France. Mark has been guiding groups since 1998, though most of this has been in wildlife destinations, he has been a run leader for Celtics and Sedgefield Striders Running Clubs in South Africa for several years.
He has a natural aptitude for working with people and is competent at sharing his love of French culture and the area with you. He believes that not having been born in Lyon has provided him with an opportunity to see the city ‘through the eyes of a tourist’ and in so doing, discover the hidden secrets of the city.
Mark is a very experienced and competent athlete, who has participated in numerous ultra-marathon, marathon and trail running races. He would be delighted to share his experiences with you or provide advice.
Lyon is France’s second largest city with a population of 2.2 million people. Originally called Lugudunum, Lyon dates back to 43 BC where the city was founded by the Romans at the exact point where the Rhone and Saone River meet.
During the European Renaissance of the 14th–17th century, the silk trade drove Lyon’s development. It was also a centre for the French Resistance during World War 2. It is now loved as the culinary capital of France. Lyon exists as a crossroads of culinary influences, benefitting from its location at the heart of some of France’s richest agricultural regions. To top it all off, Lyon lies within an hour’s drive of a trio of world-renowned wine regions: Beaujolais, Burgundy, and Côtes du Rhône.
Capitalizing on Lyon’s perfect location, “Les Mères Lyonnaises” invented many of the city’s culinary traditions and earned the city its reputation as the capital of French gastronomy. Originally women of modest means who cooked for middle-class households, the mères started their own restaurants and bouchons in the mid-18th century, serving simple yet delicious meals to everyone from the silk workers to the bourgeois.
The cultural heritage of the city is immense, straddling various time periods that can be experienced throughout the city through the architecture and urban landscapes. The vibrant spirit of the city lives on in the trendy coffee shops, bouchons and an accredited startup-scene, known as ‘French Tech’ which stimulates the startup ecosystem.