Cash before camaraderie at National Youth Run

2010-05-26 00:00

A RECORD field is expected to compete for R60 000 in prizes at Saturday’s third annual National Youth Run in Durban, which is traditionally held on the day before the Comrades Marathon.

As with the 89,28 km classic, it is hoped that the “younger” version will also attract a record field, although it will probably take a few more years before Saturday’s five- kilometre and 10 km distances attract the 20 000 that will line up in Pietermaritzburg for the 85th Downrun.

The event, which is sponsored by the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation, is presented by KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA) in association with the Comrades Marathon Asssociation (CMA).

This year, however, the event has lost some of the characteristics that were vital components of the first two years and aimed at introducing the youth to the Comrades spirit.

In 2008, each runner was presented with a gold, silver or bronze wristband to signify the difference in distance or time as a comparison with the hard-earned gold, silver and bronze medals that form part of the Comrades tradition.

Last year this was changed to medals and even by then, there were a band of previous and current Comrades runners who saw this as an opportunity to earn their “green youth run” by running for 10 years.

This year even greater focus has been placed on the schools and individual youths and no differentiation or memorabilia have been provided or aligned to the Comrades theme.

Indeed the event now has little to offer in terms of establishing the Comrades heritage or spirit.

The focus is now on high prize money for schools and individuals rather than the spirit of camaraderie that initiated Sunday’s Ultimate Human Race.

In its guise as a youth run, there is much on offer, and courtesy of the transport supplied and the incentives, it will expose young people to the joys and benefits of running.

Both the 10 km (9 am) and five kilometres (9.15 am) will start and finish at Hoy Park on Sylvester Ntuli (Brickhill) Road.

The two-lap route is fast, flat, scenic, safe and secure. It includes a stretch north along the promenade past Suncoast Casino and through the new pedestrian tunnel towards Moses Mabhida Stadium, a meander through the old motor-cross track and back to Hoy Park.

The 10 km will repeat the route, which inevitably means that the front runners will have to find their way through the slower five kilometres participants in order to earn the top prize money.

Coke and water will be available at the refreshment stations and Energade provided at the finish, with the first 1 000 finishers receiving a T-shirt.

While the main focus of this event is on youth, both the 10 km and five kilometre races are open to all age groups (minimum nine years for five kilometres and 15 years for 10 km).

Positional prizes are open to 10 km youth, only with R1 000 for first down to R100 for 10th place for both the boys and girls.

Among the most fiercely contested prizes are those for the top five schools with the greatest number of finishers. The winning school earns R10 000, while the fifth earns R2 000.

Entries will be taken at the National Youth Run stand at the Comrades Expo experience from tomorrow through to 5 pm on Friday.

More information is available at KZNA offices at 031 312 9374.

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