Comrades: New-look winners’ circle at the Oval will offer a finish to remember

2011-05-24 00:00

FOR runners the finish line of the Comrades Marathon is a welcome sight. But this year’s finish promises to be much more than just a tape to breast, and Pietermaritzburg locals will barely recognise Alexandra Park once construction is complete.

The finish venue for this year’s up run, the Oval, will be the first to have a Winners’ Circle, which will give the public and media access to the runners as they complete the race. The top 10 men

and women runners and the category winners will be among those who will be in the Bonitas Winners’ Circle.

The Winners’ Circle will also be a platform for interaction with the various celebrities who will be competing in the race. These include Highveld Radio’s Brad Brown and Koula, kwaito star Kabelo, Morning Live’s Vuyo Mbuli, and SuperSport’s Arnold Geerdts.

The finish was put together over two weeks. In previous marathons, he team came under pressure to put together the finish in only three days.

Jeff Minnaar, convenor of the finish venue, says that it takes an entire year to design the finish because they have to account for the logistical elements, media and medics.

Minnaar estimates that more than R1 million has been spent on the finish, with almost all the labour coming from volunteers.

To keep spectators at the finish entertained, there will also be the Flora Dash for Cash. The mascots of the five charities supported by the Comrades — Pink Drive, the Starfish Greathearts Foundation, Wildlands Conservation Trust, Community Chest and the Sports Trust — will race for R5 000. The mascots will sprint 300 metres and will be met by Miss South Africa 2011, Bokang Montjane, and Flora representatives at the finish line.

There will also be a performance by last year’s Idols competitors, Bongi Mthombeni, Boki Ntsime and Adeline Mocke. They will be joined by 2009 Idols runner-up Graeme Watkins and his band, the Graeme Watkins Project. These performances will be in support of Pink Drive.

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