Comrades: Msunduzi shock at route

2008-11-24 00:00

The Msunduzi Municipality has expressed dismay at the lack of consultation by the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA), which last week announced that there will be two consecutive “down runs” in 2009 and 2010.

The CMA is trying to ensure that the 2010 race has a large field — up to 20 000 — and said it does not think Pietermaritzburg could cope with such large numbers at the finish.

However, Msunduzi executive committee members (Exco), expressed shock that the decision was taken without consultation, despite the three-year partnership agreement with the CMA.

The city has pledged to contribute R300 000 to the hosting of the races.

CMA CEO Gary Boshoff said: “No, the Msunduzi Municipality was not consulted on the decision as it was based purely on operational reasons and in the interest of the safety and security of runners and spectators. In hindsight it would have probably served our cause better if we had communicated the decision to the municipality as one of the stakeholders of the event, before the media release was issued,” said Boshoff.

“I have apologised to the city’s marketing and communications manager, Brian Zuma, for this oversight,” said Boshoff.

This is not the first time that the Comrades marathons have been run in one direction consecutively, said Boshoff. This had happened when there were two up-runs in 1987 and 1988 as part of the city of Pietermaritzburg’s 150th celebrations.

Deputy mayor Mervin Dirks said he was extremely disappointed at the lack of consultation. He said the statement that Durban is better suited to handle the congestion is “rubbish” because Pietermaritzburg has good access roads and has allocated R120 million for the upgrade of Harry Gwala Stadium, which is expected to be completed by September next year.

“I suspect that there are other motives that led to the decision. We want a meeting with them [CMA] and we will need to review our partnership with them,” said Dirks.

An Exco member and the chairman of the council’s economic development committee, Pops Chetty, said he had read about the CMA’s “shocking” decision in the newspapers.

“We put money on the budget to assist them as partners and then they take [this] decision without consulting us. Why didn’t they make next year’s race an up-run so that we could attract people to our city and get a little economic boost?” he asked.

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