Soweto Marathon Trust concedes chances are slim

People's Race faces cancellation

Runners take off at the 2019 Soweto Marathon, which normally attracts 40,000 participants in November, faces the likelihood of cancelling its 2021 edition due to covid-19.
Runners take off at the 2019 Soweto Marathon, which normally attracts 40,000 participants in November, faces the likelihood of cancelling its 2021 edition due to covid-19.
Image: Kevin Sutherland

The Soweto Marathon Trust chair Sello Khunou has expressed concern about the cancellation of major races in the country, fearing a similar fate for the race the trust organises.

Soweto Marathon is staged annually in the first weekend of November. However it's date later in the year does not comfort Khunou, more so after other premier races, the Two Oceans and Comrades marathons, cancelled their 2021 editions due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Khunou said the final decision on the "People's Race" race would be made in July.

“We still have time to think about the future of the race. We will make the final decision on July 1. We are worried and losing sleep over the cancellation of the other major marathons in the country and we are aware that all eyes are on us, but no-one knows what the future holds," Khunou told Sowetan yesterday.

He, however, ruled out the idea of staging an event for elite runners, saying the sponsors would not agree to it and that it would bear the same costs as organising for the usual 40,000 runners.

He also ruled out the possibility of a virtual race. Athletics SA (ASA) has said road races must not exceed 250 runners.

“We cannot organise a race for 250 runners. We'd rather go down the same route as the other major races in the country and cancel our event. Our race is about the numbers. The 250 limit is for professional runners only and it costs a lot of money. How do sponsors get a return on their investment if there are only 250 runners?"

Khunou said he regularly meets with the runners and that he empathises with them as many of them rely on the sport to earn a living.

“There is little we can do to help them without races. I get calls from the Soweto tourism industry and small businesses to enquire if the race is still on or not. We are crossing our fingers that the pandemic will slow down, but it is highly unlikely. The chances of the race happening this year are slim."

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