Runners who were looking forward to what was supposed to be a Mandela Day Marathon this Sunday said they are disappointed about how everything turned out.
Since the announcement that the marathon will take place this year, there has been drama between the organisers, KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA) and the uMgungundlovu District Municipality.
The differences led to the Pietermaritzburg high court ruling that KZNA is not allowed to use the Mandela brand for its race.
KZNA thus changed the race name to the Hilton to Capture Site Half Marathon. While some of the runners are still looking forward to the marathon, others have decided not to participate.
One of the runners who asked not to be named said she has always taken part in the Mandela Day Marathon in honour of former president, Nelson Mandela.
She said there had even been times when she’s borrowed money to register for the race.
I enjoyed the Mandela Marathon since it began. My friends and I always participated in the name of the man who fought for our freedom. The marathon was not about money and everyone loved it from all over the world. People would even walk to the Capture Site just to be part of it and didn’t care what time they arrived
She added that having the Mandela family and municipality distancing themselves from the race compelled her not to participate in it.
According to a statement released by KZNA last week, registration for the race will take place today in Durban at the KwaZulu-Natal Athletics office at Kings Park.
On Friday and Saturday, registration will be held at the Msunduzi Athletics Stadium in Pietermaritzburg.
“KZNA is saying the race will go on while the others are saying it shouldn’t go on even though it has changed the name. I felt uncomfortable taking part in this race due to the drama surrounding it,” she said.
She said she was hurt there would be no Mandela Marathon this year and was looking forward to Sunday’s race, which was originally billed as the Mandela Day Marathon.
She added she felt the marathon had been turned into politics rather than sport at the cost of the runners.
A runner from Howick, who also asked not to be named, said even though the name of the race has changed, he will still participate.
“We haven’t had these big races in a while and I was looking forward to this year’s Mandela Marathon. Even though Mandela’s name attracted a lot of people, I will still be running on Sunday since I have been looking forward to the race,” he said. Chairperson of the Hilton Harriers (an athletics club), Kevin Meir, said.
“The race was big and I think that was because of the association with the Mandela name and the Capture Site. I suspect since it’s no longer called the Mandela Marathon it will become smaller but I am not sure. Hilton Harriers will be assisting Athletics South Africa at one table and marshalling along the route,” said Meir.