City prepares to welcome runners to Comrades Marathon qualifier event

2012-02-18 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG is preparing to welcome thousands of runners to next weekend’s Weekend Witness Maritzburg Marathon, and the municipality has promised to spruce up the race route.

Municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma said yesterday: “Events like this help to brand the city, and we need to play our part in supporting them.”

A mayoral reception will be held on Thursday night to welcome the deputy mayor of the Greek city of Marathon, who will bring the official Marathon flame to Africa for the first time.

The flame will be carried to ­Pietermaritzburg from Durban by a relay of more than 30 runners, including Comrades winners and gold medallists Shaun Meiklejohn, Piet Vorster, Tilda Tearle, Helen Lucre, Willie Mtolo, Bongmusa Mthembu and Kerry Koen.

The Maritzburg Marathon has been the most popular Comrades qualifier for the past three years and has attracted just short of 4 000 runners, 98% from outside the city, bringing substantial commercial benefit to the city.

The flame will burn in a cauldron in the Carbineer Gardens of Peace next to the city hall.

The relay is expected to reach the top of Polly Shortts at around 5.30 pm on Thursday before making its way to the Oval and on to the Natal Carbineers drill hall. From there it will be carried to the city hall at about 6.20 pm.

On Sunday the flame will be used to symbolically light the canon that signals the start of the Martizburg Marathon.

A timing of the torch relay with information on runners for each leg will be provided on from Monday.

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