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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

Soweto Marathon will be televised says Moloi as African Bank sign on as new sponsor

Athletics South Africa (ASA) President James Moloi has assured the public that the the 2023 Soweto Marathon will be televised. After reports that The People's Race may not go ahead as planned this November had tongues wagging in the road running community, organisers put those fears to bed when they launched the 28th edition of the much-loved township event this morning and unveiled African Bank as the new headline sponsor, leaving Moloi to field questions about ASA's role in making sure that event happens.

"Soweto Marathon is a provincial event - it's national in terms of the size, but it's a provincial event," he told journalists who had gathered at Sakhumzi in Orlando West this morning to attend the official launch. "So Central Gauteng Athletics (CGA) reports to us and the Soweto Marathon Trust reports to them. So when all of these things were happening we just kept quiet because they said to me they had solved their problems and came back to us to say that they have solved their problems. The minister (Zizi Kodwa) even called me and I told him that I understand people say that the Soweto Marathon has been cancelled but it never came to me my desk. So as we speak now CGA and The Trust have resolved their issues.'

Over 20 000 runners took part in the 2022 Soweto Marathon over 10km, 21km and the 42km. Photo Credit: Action Photo.

When he talks about their 'problems' Moloi is alluding to the internal battles within the The Soweto Marathon Trust that saw the suspension of Sello Khunou, Ishe Sadiki and Pamela Tainton from The Trust's board. Khunou was the chairperson when the race went ahead in 2022 but was not televised because some members of The Trust insisted that the race be aired by the public broadcaster despite ASA having a contract with the pay TV giant. The three have been replaced by Thokozani Mazibuko, James Masilo and Watson Shilembe. Moloi says now that they have sorted out their issues, the event will not only go ahead on 5 November, but it will also be shown live on SuperSport as per the federation's broadcasting agreement with The World of Champions.

"If there are issues where people want to extend the coverage to other broadcasters then I think we can be approached as the Mother Body to say you have negotiated this broadcasting deal so can you help us to extend the coverage because there are certain individuals who can't afford DStv. We'll make it a point to sit down with SuperSport because to happened with soccer where you share. So let's respect the space of SuperSport but if people come to us in writing then we will try to see how we can intervene. But we don't want people to go public and say they want this and that," he explained.

The 2023 African Bank Soweto Marathon is going ahead. From Left to right: Race Director Danny Blumberg, Central Gauteng Athletics President Steven Khanyile, Athletics South Africa President James Moloi, African Bank Chief Marketing Officer Sibusiso Kumalo, City of Joburg MMC for Community Development Councillor Lubabalo Magwentshu and The Soweto Marathon Trust's Thokozani Mazibuko. Photo Credit: African Bank Soweto Marathon.

With the broadcasting issue now put to bed once and for all attention turned to African Bank who were quizzed about their decision to sign on as the headline sponsor for five years amid bad publicity that has defined the race over the last few weeks. African Bank Chief Marketing Officer Sibusiso Kumalo says their reason to partner with the biggest mass participation single day running event of 2022 stems from the fact that they share a common ancestry having also been born in Soweto before becoming one of the biggest brands in the land.

"We were involved with the Soweto Marathon in a small way last year and I must say that it broke our hearts when we learned of the possibility that the race may not take place. We strongly believe that running is one of those sports that anyone can participate in. So we believe in this race. And we understand more than anything that you have ups and downs and we understand that it takes money to make this happen. Without funding it is not possible. The biggest prize that we have today is that we have a race. We have a race that has been saved and we've got a date. We've got certainty. Things are not up in the air. And we will be back again next year and the following year and the following year. We focussed on the positives."

And because African Bank have supplied the funding, organisers have been able to decrease the entry fees for all three categories when compared with last year when the race was run without a sponsor. The cost is R380 for the marathon; R300 for the 21.1km and R280 for the 10km. To enter, runners are encouraged to visit Prize money remains equal for both the male and female categories, with the top prize going to the 42.2km Open winner set to take home R250 000.

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