Busy weekend of athletics

2011-04-29 00:00

A FULL long weekend of athletics lies ahead that begins with the SA Masters Championships in Durban today.

Age group athletes ranging in age from 30 to 100 compete in track and field, cross-country and road events over the next two days. Teams have come from throughout the country for these championships, which are also used to select the team for the up-coming world events.

The road half-marathon and cross-country events are new additions to the championships. These are held tomorrow morning with the 21 km road race commencing at 6.30 am from Battery Beach Road (near King’s Park swimming pool) and taking four laps of the NMR, Athlone, Snell Parade route before finishing at Sun Kist Lawns.

The cross-country is hosted by Savages at the cycle track in NMR. This will be part of a complete cross-country meeting for all age groups (see below).

Master walkers have their 10 km and 20 km road events around Moses Mabhida Stadium and Peoples Park from 7 am.

Although primarily targeting junior athletes, Collegians Harriers will also host cross-country tomorrow morning at their clubhouse in Boschoff Street. Given the event hosted by Savages for the masters, the cross-country fraternity will now be split over the two major centres. As Collegians have not received any response from the KZNA office, the status of the meeting was not clear until a release from the office listed this as a league event.

The first event for boys and girls 12 and under will get under way at 12.15 pm.

There are five different races with the last, a 12 km, at 2.45 pm. Andre Booysen has more details at 082 318 5137.

Another big event this weekend is the Zululand Multisports Club F21 Foskor Halfmarathon tomorrow afternoon in Richards Bay. The race has R15 000 in prize money on offer and covers a three-lap course.

There are also 10 km and five kilometre distances at 1 pm tomorrow. Casper has more details at 035 753 3974.

Then Biggarsberg will be hosting another high prize-money event — the Umzinyathi 52 km Ultra — which not only offers R100 000 prize money, but has television coverage.

The race is supported and sponsored by the district council and finishers receive medals with gold for the top 10, silver for the next 50 and bronze for all the others. There is also a 10 km with prize money and a five kilometre fun run. The race commences at 6 am from Nquthu Stadium and finishes in Kallies Stadium in Dundee. Ken Vorster has more details at 082 821 8004.

The last-minute addition of the ultra means that road runners will now be split between two Comrades qualifiers as the Verulam Checkout Marathon and Half-marathon was originally on the fixture list for May 1 and commences from the recreation ground at 5 am. Krish has more details at 073 594 5448.

All Comrades hopefuls are reminded that confirmation of qualification times must be given to the Comrades Office before Friday, May 6, in order to validate the entries and seeding blocks. More information at 033 897 8650.

The logic of decisions made by the KZN Athletics for this weekend has to raise concern.

Apart from permitting events in direct competition with a national championship, the cross-country fraternity are going to be split between the two major centres on the same day and same time, and making matters worse, the league status has been awarded to the one furthest from the championship venue where the province’stop age-group athletes will be competing. This despite the fact that the KZN office failed to reply to the host club about that status.

Then the Foskor 21 km and the Verulam marathon, which were given their races having completed the correct application formalities last year, are simply undermined by a massive prize-money event supported by a local government who have secured television.

What are the sponsors of Foskor and Verulam races to think when numbers drop? Will they stay in the sport or go elsewhere where their investment versus coverage is valued by the sports federation?

Natal Carbineers and Hydrassist are hosts to a Final Preparation for Comrades seminar on Wednesday, May 4, at the Drill Hall at 6.30 pm.

The main presentation will be by coach Norrie Williamson and will cover all aspects of preparation and race planning for the big day including pacing, hydration and energy, and will run through to 8.30 pm. The presentation is open to all runners and supporters. More details are available from John Hall at 082 491 7679. There is no charge for the night and the club bar will be open for drinks and snacks.

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