Even more buses for record Mandela marathon field

Runners will be taking over the Midlands this weekend for the Mandela Day Marathon, whose entries have soared from 17 000 last year to 24 000 this year.

Launching the event at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site in Howick on Wednesday, KZN Cogta MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube said it is not an easy job to co-ordinate logistics for such a huge event, especially since 24 000 runners have registered for the 2018 marathon, making this year’s event the biggest yet.

“This year is Madiba’s centenary year and the race thus assumes that special aura of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to run a race of this importance.

“We would like to assure that we are aiming for a fitting celebration of Madiba’s centenary through this year’s marathon and we all are absolutely committed to ensuring that this is the experience you will all take away from this race either as runners or spectators,” she said.

Mayor of uMgungundlovu District Thobekile Maphumulo said “We have made sure that all athletes will be safe throughout the marathon, so there will be security to oversee that everything goes according to plan,” she said.

Race director Jan van Staden said emphasised the increased shuttle system (from the finish back to the start) that will ensure the waiting period for athletes is shortened.

“We increased taxis from 45 to 80 and buses from 20 to 30. The 27 refreshment stations will be fully stocked with everything needed by athletes. We have a new layout as well, to make sure that we bring the public closer when athletes finish; definitely ensuring that we will have an enjoyable event,” he said.

The two-day event will begin on Saturday, with mountain biking, triathlon and trail running at 5.30 am, while the 42,2 km race, half marathon and VIP race start at 6 am on Sunday. The marathon starts at Manaye hall in Edendale, where Mandela made his last public speech on March 25, 1961.

The race will end at the Nelson Mandela Capture site, where he was arrested, outside Howick on August 5, 1962. The marathon will be televised on SABC 2.