‘Witness’ to back iconic Maritzburg City Marathon

2015-10-30 11:24
Kenyan athlete Peris Jepkorir from Fastway running club and Witness circulation and marketing manager Liezl Koekemoer meet the Witness Maritzburg City Marathon mascot at the media launch at the Imperial Hotel. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

Kenyan athlete Peris Jepkorir from Fastway running club and Witness circulation and marketing manager Liezl Koekemoer meet the Witness Maritzburg City Marathon mascot at the media launch at the Imperial Hotel. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - The Witness Maritzburg City Marathon 2016, powered by Clover, will feature a new start/finish venue and will, for the first time in its 20 years, pass the iconic City Hall as part of a slightly redesigned route.

This was announced at the official launch at the Imperial Hotel on Thursday.

Rated the best organised marathon in South Africa by runners in surveys in Runners’ World, Modern Athlete and Cottrell’s Nedbank Runners’ Guide, the Witness Maritzburg City Marathon also produces more qualifiers for the Comrades Marathon than any other race.

“We remain rooted in and committed to this city and this means we will continue to support those events where we feel we can add value,” editor of The Witness, Zoubair Ayoob, said of the newspaper’s decision to continue its support of the marathon at the launch.

“It was easy to say ‘yes’ to [race organiser] John Hall, because the Maritzburg Marathon is easily one of the best run races, and one that The Witness is, therefore, proud to be associated with.

“The Witness Maritzburg Marathon 2016 will hold special significance for us, as it will also be one of the flagship events in the year when we celebrate our 170th birthday.”

He concluded: “The Maritzburg Marathon is Pietermaritzburg and The Witness is also Pietermaritzburg. We are as much a part of Pietermaritzburg as the City Hall, or, indeed, the Imperial Hotel, and as permanent a fixture.”

The proposed new start and finish venue for the race, which is expected to draw about 6 000 participants, is the new Pietermaritzburg Msunduzi Stadium, which will allow a free flow of traffic into Alexandra Park, provide ample parking, and make the event safer for all involved.

The 2016 event, which runs from February 26-28, will include a Wheelchair Quarter Marathon on Saturday, February 27. The Trail Run, consisting of two options, will also take place on the same day, along with the MaraFun runs in the afternoon.

Good news for runners in Sunday’s marathon is that it will start half-an-hour later than previously, at 05:30, and the cut-off will also be extended by half-an-hour, until 12 noon.

“We believe our brand is strong enough to take the changes,” race organiser Hall said. “We love Maritzburg. There is always resistance to change. But the changes are not just for the sake of change. Every single one of them, we believe, is for the better.”

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