Runners encouraged to ‘pass the baton’ at Mandela race launch

2017-05-12 13:30
Mandela Marathon record holder Thobani Chagwe (left), Comrades winner Bongmusa Mthembu (centre) and Melly Kennedy Kiptoo from Kenya at the launch of the Mandela Marathon at the capture site outside Howick on Thursday.

Mandela Marathon record holder Thobani Chagwe (left), Comrades winner Bongmusa Mthembu (centre) and Melly Kennedy Kiptoo from Kenya at the launch of the Mandela Marathon at the capture site outside Howick on Thursday. (Ian Carbutt)

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Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube echoed the sentiments of many at the official launch of the 2017 Nelson Mandela Marathon in Howick on Thursday when she emphasised the significance of the race as “passing the baton of the struggle icon’s legacy to future generations”.

The launch, held at the historic Nelson Mandela capture site in Howick, was attended by the head of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Yase Godlo, the MEC for Sport, Arts and Culture, Bongi Sithole-Moloi, and KZN Athletics president Sello Mokoena.

Some of the athletes attending the launch were record holder Thobani Chagwe, former Comrades Marathon winner Bongumusa Mthembu and Kenya’s Melly Kennedy Kiptoo.

The two-day event will start on August 24, with mountain biking, triathlon and trail running at 5.30 am, while the 42,2 km race, half marathon and VIP race on August 27 will begin at 6 am.

Speaking at the launch yesterday, Dube-Ncube said: “It’s inspiring that over the years we’ve seen more than 10 000 athletes participating in this race and not only have we seen the race growing in numbers but also the quality of the race itself.

“I would really like to encourage people to go and cheer our athletes on race day. When we as government consider the value of sport in the province, we appreciate the importance of comparing sports events with people wanting to enjoy leisure and time with their families.

“For us, this annual celebration of life and work of the late president, Nelson Mandela, and this year also marking the year of O.R. Tambo, is designed to ensure that their legacy is kept alive for future generations.”

Entries have opened for the sixth edition of the world-class sporting event. Race director Johan van Staden confirmed yesterday the three-month entry process would close on July 31, with the total number of entries capped at 15 050.

“Our focus for 2017 is striving for perfection. We’ve had our five years of trial and error and we made a couple of mistakes, but as of now, we’ve committees working together to ensure that we strive for perfection.

“Online entries will open as of 12 pm tonight [Thursday]. We will also be distributing our entry forms throughout the province.

“Closing of entries will be on July 31. The dates of our event and registration are the 24th, 25th and 26th, and obviously the competition will start on Saturday, 26 August,” Van Staden said, adding that the race is the same stature as other major races in the country.

In 2012, the marathon attracted 1 725 just participants; it saw a 14% increase from 2015 last year, attracting 15 285 participants.

The event will be televised on SABC2.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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