Mandela race numbers slashed

2019-06-26 15:00
Elite athletes Thobani Chagwe and Philani Njokwe at the launch of the Mandela Day Marathon at the Mandela Capture Site on Tuesday.

Elite athletes Thobani Chagwe and Philani Njokwe at the launch of the Mandela Day Marathon at the Mandela Capture Site on Tuesday. (Moeketsi Mamane)

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Entries for this year’s Mandela Day Marathon will be capped at well below 20 000 for safety reasons.

This was announced by race director Johan van Staden at the launch of the annual two-day event in Howick on Tuesday.

He added: “Last year we said we were not going to have more than 18 350 athletes participating, and we ended up with 24 000.

“This year we have to limit our numbers from a risk and safety point of view we can cannot handle the 24 000 athletes that we had last year.”

His proposal is to cap the entries at 15 350, but he said they could accommodate up to 17 000.

Van Staden added that if the mayor of uMgungundlovu District, Thobekile Maphumulo, wanted more athletes they would have to ask for the provincial government to assist in addressing the infrastructure challenges.

Maphumulo said the marathon had grown tremendously in the past seven years, having started with around 2 000 athletes in 2012. She added that they were thankful that no incidents marred last year’s event.

uMgungundlovu is the custodian of the race and hosts the event in partnership with the provincial government and local municipalities.

Absa Bank returned this year as a corporate sponsor, injecting R2 million into the race. The bank will also accept entries at its 31 branches around the province.

Maphumulo said it was the municipality’s vision to see the race grow every year but that would not happen if the business community did not come in as sponsors. “When we started this project we said, at some point it must not be dependent on government funding for sustainability.”

She added that the municipality would continue to try and get other businesses to come on board.

As for how much the cash-strapped district municipality would be contributing, Maphumulo said that would depend on the number of athletes who signed up and how much they received from sponsors.

The municipality’s contribution, in the main, includes footing the bill for operational support, marshals, refreshments and volunteer management.

Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Sipho Hlomuka said the race was fast becoming a key event in the province’s racing calendar.

“We have set ourselves an important target of delivering an excellent marathon that will reflect the values that Madiba stood for,” he said.

The Mandela Day Marathon weekend of activities will see thousands of athletes take part in the various sporting codes on August 24 and 25. These include mountain biking, hiking and the triathlon.

On the Sunday, athletes will tackle the 10km, 21km and 42km marathon.

The total prize money for the weekend is over R3 million, with the winner of the 42km getting R100 000.

The prize money will come from the provincial Department of Sport and Recreation.

Cogta and the Provincial Treasury will be providing the race infrastructure and marketing support for the event.

The Mandela Day Marathon record holder Thobani Chagwe, from Underberg, said he was looking forward to taking part in this year’s race as he only ran one in 2014.

“I haven’t been able to run the others because of injuries but I’m injury-free this year.

“I’ve had a good year so I was able to run the Harry Gwala Marathon and a few others and I had good races so I’m confident about my performance … If I break my record that would be a bonus, but I’m just looking for a spot on the podium,” he added.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  mandela marathon

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