Comrades Marathon safe

2009-03-27 00:00

THE 2009 Comrades Marathon will take place on May 24, despite a clash with the IPL cricket tournament.

Fears that Comrades could be cancelled because of the clash of dates with the Indian Premier League (IPL) prompted the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) and KZN Cricket Union (KZNCU) to meet this week to view the options available.

Setting up the finish arena at Kingsmead for the Comrades takes a minimum of two weeks. The IPL commences in Cape Town on April 18 with the final in Johannesburg on May 24, the same date as the Comrades Marathon.

Cricket stadium Kingsmead is an obvious choice for a number of matches in the league.

CMA chairman Dave Dixon specifically refuted what the media release describes as “a reckless and negligent statement” attributed to him in the Daily News that the race might have to be scrapped.

“Hosting the IPL is a fantastic opportunity for South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal and Durban. The last thing we would want is to jeopardise a tournament of this nature,” Dixon told Weekend Witness.

“Comrades is an ionic event with a rich history. What we are looking for is a win-win situation, and we are exploring every option for this.”

It is understood that the CMA signed the contract for the stadium hire almost a year ago, but are willing partners in the negotiations to provide a workable solution that benefits both events.

“KwaZulu-Natal has one of the largest Indian communities outside India. We recognise that it makes so much sense that part of the tournament should be hosted here,” said Dixon, “But at the same time we also need to exercise our responsibilities to the history and runners in the Comrades Marathon. It will certainly require some ‘out of the box’ thinking, but I trust that with the interest of sport, the province and city at heart we can all work around the challenges.”

One solution could be to find alternative venues for the finish of the Comrades. Previous venues have included the university grounds, Hoy Park, the DLI Grounds and the original finish line — the Durban City Hall.

At any alternative venue, many of the facilities at Kingsmead would have to be replicated in a temporary format.

Or, with only three matches on the provisional IPL schedule for May after the commencement of the Comrades build up, the KZNCU could consider moving these to the Oval in Pietermaritzburg.

The CMA will make an official announcement early next week.

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