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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

Sponsorship changes at the Comrades Marathon as Hollywoodbets exits

After the Covid-19 Lockdown forced the cancelation of both the 2020 and 2021 editions of the Comrades Marathon, senior members of the Comrades Marathon Association admitted to organisation being under severe financial stress. In February 2022 as the CMA launched the 95th edition of the Ultimate Human Race which took place on the 28th of August, CMA Vice Chairperson Les Burnard made it clear that the challenging economic times had forced them to drop the prize money while doubling the entry fee.

But following the the successful staging of two Down Runs in 2022 and 2023, things are looking up at Comrades House in Pietermaritzburg as sponsors queue up once again to be part of South Africa's most loved foot race. Banking giant FNB came on board in May of 2022, while the Government Employee Medical Scheme GEMS signed on last year as the race's new medical partner.

The Hollywoodbets halfway mark water point is no longer. Photo Credit: CMA Media.

But it seems that not everyone is completely happy with the new state of affairs in Pietermaritzburg because one major sponsor has chosen to exit. After signing a three year sponsorship deal in November 2020 at the height of the pandemic when the CMA was battling to attract sponsors and had just lost top sponsor Bonitas Medical Fund, Hollywoodbets have chosen to part ways with the 90km race.

It is understood that the CMA and the Sports Betting Giant were unable to reach an agreement over some specific elements of the sponsorship agreement which was up for renewal. #TheTopRunner has learnt that negotiations between the two appear to have deadlocked over a suggestion that the Purple Team move their sponsorship commitment up a notch from tier two to tier one.

Then CMA Chairperson Cheryl Winn announcing the Hollywoodbets sponsorship agreement during a virtual press conference in November 2020. Photo Credit: Supplied.

A CMA official confirmed that the Durban-based betting company would not be part of the 2024 race, while also revealing that their energetic refreshment station at the halfway point of the race would likely be taken up by Thirsti who have moved up from being a tier three to a tier two sponsor. The CMA are expected to announce more sponsorship changes in the lead up to the 97th running of the race on 9 June.

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