New finish venue for Comrades

2016-09-14 06:00
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THE “ultimate human race” has a new finish in 2017. The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) has announced that the up-run will end at Scottsville Racecourse promoting a bigger finish area.

Speaking to Maritzburg Fever, race director Rowan James, said the finish­ at Alexandra Park Oval will no longer be suitable for various reasons.

“Msunduzi Municipality has started revamping and upgrading the precinct so we don’t have as much space as we used to. Also the stadium has become old and in need of a lot of maintenance.

“There are limited entry and exit points as well so, with the increased number of runners and spectators over the years, the venue is no longer suitable.

“To add to this, on race day, traffic is gridlocked in the area so to alleviate this, the decision was taken by the CMA board to move the finish,” he said.

Various venues were evaluated as alternate finish venues in the city with the Scottsville Racecourse coming out on top giving increased exposure not only to CMA, but to one of the main sponsors, Tsogo Sun.

“The facilities are far superior, with increased traffic access for spectators and runners, better toilets and the overall space. There are also more exit and entry routes to the racecourse making it more accessible for spectators.

“There will be more parking options for spectators at nearby grounds, which is limiting the gridlock around the racecourse to about 500m,” said James.

In all probability the finish for next year’s race will remain the permanent finish for up- runs. Runners have a 600m shorter distance finishing on the same 120m straight as the end of the horse races, in front of the grandstand.

There will also be temporary grandstands erected for spectators around the finish.

“We still want to promote that stadium­ vibe and atmosphere to bring the spectators closer to the runners.”

Golden Horse Casino and Tsogo Sun Hotel will continue to run as normal with alternate entry points being erected for spectators in order for there to be minimal interruption for people not watching the race.

“It’s all about improving the facilities and space for the race and the new venue promises to do that. We have had an overwhelmingly positive response from the runners about the new finish.

“Although we know that we aren’t going to solve every problem, we are trying to work best with what we’ve got,” said James.

James said as of 2018 Comrades will take place on the second Sunday of June to prevent the clash between the Royal Agricultural Show and Art in the Park.

“With all the events taking place around the same time there were many clashes with accommodation in the city as well as support services.

“The new slot will alleviate the congestion of this as well and have a positive income in Pietermaritzburg bringing people into the city,” he said.

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