The excitement at KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZN Athletics) this past week was understandable. The provincial guardians of the sport had scored a small, yet very significant gain in a battle that as recently as August had appeared unwinnable.
And as they officially announced that the Mandela Day Marathon was going to take place on December 9, their pride was palpable.
This, after all, is an institution that had to go the legal route to ensure they remained in charge of the race, as both Chief Zwelivelile Mandlesizwe Mandela and RHoM Investments (Pty) Ltd, the financial brokering company of the Royal House of Mandela (RHoM), sought to take it from them.
Back then, when they announced the race was “postponed”, KZN Athletics said the reason was the Mandela Day Marathon clashed with the provincial 10km championships, although yours truly knew there was a raging legal battle.
It would appear the “warring” parties have reached an agreement now, and earlier this week KZN Athletics announced the race would go on.
There will, however, be no full marathon – the 42.195km – with the event set to feature just the half marathon, the 10km, and the famous 46664, a 4.6km fun run limited to the community builders who have influenced communities in line with the late Madiba’s values.
“We decided to go on a smaller scale because we had to work around a short space of time, and negotiations with the relevant parties took long,” explained the governing body’s vice president and spokesperson Dlakadla Mngomezulu.
“We could not go full blast given the KZN Athletics’ congested calendar, and also given that it’s December. We knew it would be hard to attract many runners for the full marathon.”
He said it was planned to have the full marathon return next year, with the race then to be held at its normal time, in August.
The marathon is held to celebrate and honour the life and legacy of the iconic father of the nation, the late president Nelson Mandela.
The 2023 event also coincides with the 10th anniversary of Madiba’s death on December 5, 2013.
The 21km event will start at the Hilton Police Station, the 10km starts at the Howick Sports Field, while the 46664 starts next to the Midmar Dam. The finish will be at the Mandela Capture Site in Howick.
Entries for the races will open on November 16 at Web Tickets (www.webtickets.co.za). The total number of entries will be capped at 5 000, with the 21.1km at 2 000 runners and the 10km at 3 000 runners.