Mad rush for Madiba Marathon

2012-07-21 00:00

THE clamour for entries in the prestigious Mandela Day Marathon has stunned local runners and organisers, with only 130 remaining by 5 pm yesterday.

The event, which will be held for the first time on August 26, attracted over 150 entries within the first six hours of opening on Wednesday, when the world celebrated Mandela Day.

The initial plan was to allow 27 days for entries, which would represent one day representing one year that the former president was imprisoned. But it seems that the limit will be reached at the weekend.

As part of the commemoration of the 50th year of Mandela’s capture, the number of runners has been restricted in this inaugural year to 466 marathoners and 940 in the 10 km.

The limits were chosen as Mandela was the 466th prisoner in 1964, making his prison number 466-64, and the 10 km celebrates his 94th birthday.

The rate of uptake of entries has surpassed most expectations and percentage-wise is faster than virtually all other events in South Africa, including the Comrades and Two Oceans ultra-marathon. The event carries the Two Oceans Marathon qualifier status and logo, which is the first year in recent history that a race in August has been allowed to be used as a qualifier.

“The flow of entries has been phenomenal for a new event at this time of year,” said Brad Glasspool, who is overseeing the organisation. “There can be no question that a major factor is the opportunity to run between two major milestones in the life of former president Nelson Mandela. We now expect both races to be closing their entries by next week — half the time that we had initially allowed.”

With over 100 entries received for the 10 km, both distances have captured the imagination of runners throughout the country, with a substantial percentage of entrants coming from outside KwaZulu-Natal.

An attraction of the event is the history attached to the route, which commences in Imbali at the Manayi Hall, where the former president made his last public speech as afree man on March 25, 1961, at the All-in Africa conference. The route tours Imbali before crossing Moses Mabhida Road, passing through Plessislaer and taking the Caluza Road, which includes “Struggle Hill”, a notoriously steep seven-kilometre ascent that crests out at Mtolo’s Butchery.

The final four kilometres is along the Tweedie road where Mandela was arrested on August 5, 1962.

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