The days of sleeping at filling stations outside FNB Stadium and under trees for many Soweto Marathon runners from provinces outside Gauteng are coming to an end.
The Soweto Marathon Trust has partnered with the historic Morris Isaacson High School in Jabavu, Soweto, and the local taxi association to accommodate 600 underprivileged athletes at the Runners Village at the school.
Athletes from outside Gauteng have in the past slept in cars and nearby filling stations. "We were very pained as organisers to find out that a day before the race athletes were sleeping under trees and storm water pipes and we thought we should do something," said Sello Khunou, who chairs the trust.
The initiative, which started last year, will see runners ferried in taxis from the school to the stadium the day before the race. Supper will be served at 7pm while there's entertainment in the school's hall.
Athletes will then retire for bed in different classrooms provided with mattresses and mobile showers. Breakfast will be served as early as 2am.
Monica Lahle, 41, from Mdantsane Athletics Club in the Eastern Cape was one of the athletes who benefitted last year.