Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
13 Sep 2013
6:00 am

Soweto Marathon limbo ‘damaging’

Wesley Botton

Former elite road runner Nick Bester has warned athletics officials that the image of the sport will not improve unless they learn to get along.

Image courtesy stock.xchnge

Bester, who won the Comrades Marathon in 1991, and is now the national manager for the Nedbank Running Club, said yesterday the confusion around the organisation of the Soweto Marathon was another indication that all was not well in the administration of the sport.

“I don’t know who is right or wrong, but as long as they continue fighting, the sport will continue to be affected, and sponsors will continue to stay away,” Bester said.

Bester believes the cancellation of the race would have more of an impact on the amateurs who enjoyed running through the township.

“There are so many races these days with big prize money, so I don’t think it hurts the elite guys as much, but it affects the masses. There are a lot of people who want to run this race.”

The Soweto Marathon Trust (SMT), which was given full rights to host the annual 42km event from this season, confirmed on Monday it had called off the race, scheduled for November 2.

The SMT wanted Athletics South Africa (ASA) to release a portion of the broadcast rights fees from the national federation’s contract with the SABC, claiming it could not secure a sponsor due to the poor image of the sport.

James Evans, the president of ASA, said it was against the federation’s constitution to release broadcast fees to race organisers. He pointed out the SMT had not been registered as a trust and claimed it was not affiliated to any of ASA’s members.

Banele Sindani, a spokesman for the SMT, said the registration process had begun after a law firm agreed to handle it pro bono, while CGA president James Moloi said the SMT was formed by clubs which are affiliated to the provincial body.

Evans said ASA still hoped for the race to go ahead, but would not respond when approached for further comment.