Water crisis must not worry athletes

Lungile Gongqa (Gallo Images)
Lungile Gongqa (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Athletes need not worry about the limited supply of water during the popular Two Oceans marathon on March 31 in Cape Town.

The organisers have eased the concerns of the thousands of runners who will participate in the 21.1km and 56km annual races.

The City of Cape Town has been hit hard by an unprecedented water crisis, which has affected all activities in the area, including sports.

Two Oceans Marathon general manager Carol Vosloo admitted that the drought had made this event one of the most difficult to organise.

Vosloo urged runners to carry their own hydration packs with them. The organisers will provide water in line with Athletics SA and International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) standards.

But there will be no extra water supply to shower with or for extra hydration.

Last year, about 2 000 litres were supplied, but that amount will be significantly reduced this year.

Water will be brought in from outside the city at huge cost to the organisers.

There were fears the marathon might not take place, but, because it generates about R635 million for the local economy, the organisers were convinced not to cancel it.

Vosloo said: “We are urging the runners to be aware of the water crisis in the city. Because of the nature of the problem, we won’t use any water from the local municipality. Water will be fetched from elsewhere.

“About 30 000 runners will take part in the event. We have been working closely with the city for more than a year on the race. We won’t have busy water stations and shower points like we used to.

“Our sponsors, Powerade and Coca-Cola, will also provide drinks.”

Vosloo said they were aware of the extra costs of staging the marathon this year, but it was all about the spirit of running the marathon.

Prominent runner Jenna Challenor, who took part at the IAAF World Championships marathon in London last year, is a regular participant in the 56km race.

She said South Africans are spoilt when it came to the issue of water.

Challenor secured second place in the women’s main race when she clocked 3:47:32 last year.

She said: “I’m happy to know the race is going ahead as planned. We are being too spoilt in South Africa, but we have to take it in our stride and sympathise with the city. The water crisis is not a train smash – we just have to take small sips and get on with it.”

Last year’s winner of the men’s 56km race, Lungile Gongqa said he was not worried about the water crisis as he was determined to defend his title.

“I’m working hard in training to defend my title. I’m camping in Joburg and I’m in the best possible shape to win the marathon again,” Gongqa said.

Last year, he won the marathon in 3:09:43, and he said he did not take in too much water during races.

“I run a strategic race and don’t drink too much water. I don’t believe in luxury during races.”

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