Participants in this year’s Mandela Day Marathon on Monday continued to express dissatisfaction with the organisation of the annual event.
Among their complaints, athletes said they faced several problems leading up to and during the race, which included difficulties finding the right T-shirt sizes, the T-shirts not being of good quality and the shortage of refreshments at various refreshment stands along the route.
“The T-shirts looked like they were made by a beginner or they were rushed,” said Hleziphi Ncayiyana, chairperson of the Nedbank Running Club.
She said the runners of her club also complained about the lack of refreshments along the 42 km route.
“Organisers need to make sure that there is more than enough water during the race to drink and to cool off,” she said.
Ncayiyana said the prize winners also raised complaints of their money being paid out late.
“Some winners of last year’s race only received their monies in March this year. Runners are pleading with the sponsors and organisers to fix this problem as it disheartens them from entering the marathon,” said Ncayiyana.
Commenting on The Witness Facebook page, Jonathan Newman, who ran the 42 km race on Sunday, said it was a great race, but said the administration side of things has a lot of room for improvement.
“The route was challenging but great, lots of crowd support which was also great. Collection of race numbers took over an hour, all the toilets on the route were full and not usable, some of the water tables didn’t have bins, and they ran out of goodie bags before I finished. I believe a lot of people didn’t get race shirts as well,” he said.
Digby Gold, who lives along the route, said he was totally disappointed at all the litter that was left along the route.
“There were no bins on the route along Cedara Road and no attempt was made at clearing up all the single-use plastic bags dropped along the road. Unfortunately, it was the same last year,” he said.
Bridget Engelbrecht said she was disgusted by the plastic and garbage left at the water points in Howick.
“The organisers are quick to take money for entries, but not so quick to clean up. If you man a water point, you are responsible [for] how it looks when you leave.
“The rubbish should have been picked up after the race or during the race between runners.”
Helga Pearson said: “My husband is still bitter he never got his T-shirt. [It’s] poor organisation. It’s not like the runners don’t pay to participate. The organisers should deliver what they promise.”
When The Witness drove along the route before noon on Monday, several people were seen picking up the litter.
Craig Fry, an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) authorised athlete representative, said he chose not to bring any of his international runners this year as the race organisers refused to assist with accrediting their international athletes.
“In the past, Mandela Marathon has had its good and bad the same as any race to be honest.
“From my colleagues in the professional side they got zero accreditations to be able to work on the day with their athletes so that was extremely difficult.”
Lennox Mabaso, spokesperson for the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), who were one of the organisers, said the only complaint they received was that of T-shirt shortages.
“The only complaint was during registration in Durban where we experienced a shortage of the T-shirt supply. About 1 000 out of over 21 000 participants were affected. We were able to rectify this and took their details and followed up and made sure they got their T-shirts on race day. We apologise for that slight inconvenience,” he said.
Mabaso said they received no complaints about shortages of supplies at the refreshment stands.
“The race was a resounding success,” he said.