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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

7 marathons in 7 days. Icon's Journey Marathon gets underway in Eastern Cape

It's all system goes as the Icon's Journey Challenge which gets underway in the Eastern Cape today. This year marks the third edition of the gruelling eight-day 400km running event since its inception in 2018 after it was cancelled in 2020 due to Covid19. Run on an undulating course through some of the most rural parts of the province, the challenging race consists of seven consecutive marathon distances and then closes with a tough 103km race as participants run through the birth areas of the struggle Icons like Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, and Charlotte Maxeke to name a few.

While testing their endurance, runners will also use the run to give back to the local community as all donations assist deserving school kids with uniforms, shoes, and sanitary pads. With many of this year's participants using the event as part of their Comrades Marathon preparation, the founder of the event, Bandile Sangoni said they anticipate more success and growth.

Sangoni speaking at the media launch of the Icon's Journey Marathon at the Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha on 30 June. Photo Credit: Icon's Journey Marathon.

"This is going to be the biggest race we ever held in terms of the participants due to races allowing more athletes as things have back to normal after Covid19. Plus we have picked more entries after athletes heard that our race has been selected as a Comrades Marathon qualifier. You know athletes have a special heart for Comrades and with it coming this year after being held virtually for two years is all good news to many across the globe. It is also an indication that more people have taken notice of our race and are also willing to assist kids across the country," said Sangoni.

Sangoni, who is affectionately known as 'Vulithuba' has been a community builder since childhood. During the 90's, as a school pupil in his spare time assisted his mother market her butcher which later developed to "Shisanyama" as people fell in love with his style and charm.

The gruelling 400km race is run over some of the most rugged and challenging terrain in the rural Eastern Cape. Photo Credit: Icon's Journey Marathon.

" This is something in me to unite people for change so we can have one common goal. We can't always rely on the Government to do something for us. But if we are united then we can make more difference. It is not an easy task but at least each year we are progressing. So step by step things will come together. A little you do make a whole difference to someone's life," he said explaining the philosophy that inspired him to start the Icon's Journey Marathon.

As more than 2 000 children benefited from the initiative last year, Sangoni is adamant that even more donations will be collected this year to touch even more young lives. The organizers have teamed up with the UK-based charitable organisation Sports For Ubuntu to try to stretch their wings by accessing more donors, including those who who donate in Pounds.

Sangoni poses with Hollywoodbets AC top runner Nkosikhona Mhlakwana who will race the 35km distance on the final day of the event on 10 July. Photo Credit: Icon's Journey Marathon.

"Things are tough for everyone. Organizing a race needs sponsors to assist with financial backing. We are grateful to Absa Eastern Cape, Nelson Mandela Museum, The Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture in the Eastern Cape who are some of the many organisations who are still with us through these tough times of post Covid-19 which left a huge hole to fill. But we are optimistic more children stand to benefit this year. We still urge people to continue to support this event, "

The race on Sunday 10 July will be run by prominent athletes including Comrades Marathon Gold medalist Prodigal Khumalo in the 103km and 2022 Two Oceans Marathon runner-up Nkosikhona Mhlakwana in the 35km.

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