AAC hailed for successful first race after lockdown
Updated: Nov 12, 2020
Alberton Athletic Club Chairman Anton Ferreira believes it was a blessing in disguise that they had such a small field for their race on Sunday. The first race after lockdown received widespread plaudits for its excellent organisation in the face of the onerous rules governing mass gatherings in the post Covid19 world. But Ferreira says they were only able to execute the race so well and so fast (they had just three weeks) because of the comparatively small number of runners that signed up for the first official road race in Gauteng since March.
“I think it played into our favour that we had relatively few people at this first event,” he said speaking after the race. Limited to 500 entries because of the rules governing level 1 of the lockdown under the National State of Disaster declared President Cyril Ramaphosa over six months ago, roughly half that number would eventually turn up on race day to tackle the fast and flat 10km course.
“We weren’t sold out. I think we ended up getting a total of 260 odd out of the 500 entries, so it was a very small field,” Ferreira explained. This small number will no doubt have been influenced by a recommendation from Central Gauteng Athletics to exclude Grand Masters (runners aged 60 and above) from races because of their high risk Coronavirus status. Not to mention the fears that many still have about being in large crowds.
But what was lacking in quantity was present in quality as some of South Africa’s most famous running faces and very best Top Runners took to the roads once again. The first woman to break six hours on the Comrades Marathon Up Run Gerda Steyn won the ladies race in 34:43 by over two minutes from Lebogang Phalula-Luthli, while 9-time Comrades Marathon champion Bruce Fordyce also lined up at the start line. Although he finished well behind Mbuleli Mathanga’s winning time of 29:45, The Comrades King’s presence added a special celebrity touch to the race.
Ultimately Ferreira hopes that AAC’s first tentative steps into the unknown will inspire other race organisers to follow suit. “The other clubs have the advantage now, we were the guinea pigs. We had to go by trial and error and just had to have faith. I think the turn around time was the issue for us and that’s where other races will have the advantage. A lot of them were here on the day so they will have seen how we did,” he shares.
The Top Runner has learnt that CGA are planning a workshop where Ferreira and his team will share some of their insights into organising a race under level 1 lockdown regulations. Let’s hope that is soon so that we see at least one more road race in Gauteng before the end of what has been a challenging year for sport in general. Well done Alberton Athletic Club for leading from the front!