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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'It’s going to be bigger and more fun' - TNU 50km set to unveil new sponsors

As the mornings get cooler and the autumn leaves start to fall, it signals for many Comrades Marathon runners the beginning of the high mileage season. Those aiming to complete the 90km race from Durban to Pietermaritzburg on the 9th of June will spend March and April diligently logging kilometre after kilometre while racing a few preparatory marathons and ultra marathons. Traditionally the the Om die Dam 50km, Loskop 50km and the Totalsports Two Oceans 56km Ultra Marathon were the favoured pre-Comrades ultra testers. But as of 2023, there is a new kid on the ultra block - The Tshwane North 50km Ultra Marathon.

"That was actually the first thing we agreed upon as the three organising teams that we are going for a single lap route," explained Race Organizing Committee Representative Mahlomola 'Hloks' Lebea. "Let’s also remember TNU is organised by runners and we fully understand the topic of a single versus a double lap race. Our aim was mainly to make sure that runners are happy rather than worrying about the logistics which we knew was going to be nightmare to coordinate," he told #TheTopRunner.

Comrades Marathon gold medalists Joseph Manyedi, Gift Kelehe, Edward Mothibi and Johannes Makgetla and Comrades Marathon Down Run Masters record holder Wayne Spies using the 2023 TNU 50km as part of their Comrades training. Photo Credit: Tumelo Mabua.

Having decided on a single lap 50km race, which was a first of it's kind in Gauteng, the organisers set about designing a route. Thankfully the race was being put together as a collaborative effort between the Atteridgeville Athletics Club, Addicted to Life Multisports and Lifestyle Club and Madoko Athletics Club who had come together on a number of occasions in the past to do several long training runs, so they new the area well. All it required was certification from World Athletics Measurer Norrie Williamson and the first edition of the TNU 50km took place on 22 April 2023. Lebea says they learnt a lot from organising last year's race which will help them to improve the standard of the 2024 event.

"Last year’s event was our first and everyone needs a baseline to work from in order to improve. Now we have that baseline which includes feedback from runners. For example, we now know that our biggest challenge was at some of the busiest intersections and we want to assure our runners that we are addressing that with relevant authorities. We also know that water points and marshals are very crucial to any running event and we are putting more attention to that also."

This approach coupled with the success of that inaugural event has led to more sponsors coming on board for this year's race which is scheduled for 20 April. For example, organisers have managed to attract a major technical partner who will assist by supplying all runners who enter before 15 March with a quality technical race t-shirt.

"We managed to build ourselves a good portfolio by hosting such a big event without any sponsors. We do not want to ruin the surprises we have for our 2024 participants. All I can say is that there’s more for runners this year and it’s going to be bigger and more fun.

For example, the winner for 21 and 50 will also get a pair of shoes worth R3500 from our partner Salomon. The launch of 2024 TNU at the end of March will reveal it all."

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