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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'There are still a few things we need to get right' - Durban International Marathon

After a thrilling race that saw Tebello Ramakongoana come within seconds of breaking the Lesotho National Record, and Annie Bothma run a brave 2:30:31 organisers of the 2023 Durban International Marathon are upbeat about the prospects of the race going forward. Billed as a race to give athletes the opportunity to qualify for the World Championships and Olympic Games, the race duly delivered a fast and flat course but there were some hiccups which have left some of the participants unhappy about their experience on March 12.

While the first bunch of male athletes were on schedule to run the 2:08:10 qualifying standard after they went through the halfway mark in 1:03:52 led by pacemaker Mbuleli Mathanga, a second group of chasing men believe that poor marshalling denied them the opportunity to run closer to the 2:12 mark and perhaps even finish amongst the medals for ASA Marathon Championships which was incorporated in the race.

KZNA President Steve Mkasi says there is room for improvement. Photo Credit: Durban International Marathon.

Philani Buthelezi who is a 2:13:15 performer at his best, had to settle for seventh position in 2:19:19. A distraught Buthelezi says they ran more than 42,2km. "How painful to prepare for a marathon and then you end up running like this at the Durban International Marathon. In the second batch we got lost at the 22km mark because there was no marshal." Running in the colours of Athletics Gauteng North (AGN) the 2019 SA 10 000m champion suggests that he may have earned an ASA Marathon Championships medal had it not been for the marshalling.

Organizers admit that there is room for improvement. "There are still a few things we need to get right," said KZNA President Steve Mkasi whose sentiments were echoed by his deputy Mandla Mngomezulu. "Of course there were glitches here and there at the race, however they are incidental of a growing Race. The Durban International Marathon is 3 years old, and has a potential of growing from strength to strength."

Many social runners braved the wet weather and enjoyed the day. Photo Credit: Durban International Marathon.

Social runners have also weighed in on the race. Many have applauded organisers for making sure that there were enough well-stocked refreshment stations and celebrated the course as perfect for running that elusive personal best. But some complained of being let down by the buses which transported runners to the start, saying they arrived almost fifteen minutes after the starter's gun had gone. KZNA has apologised to runners.

"Siyaxolisa. Sizolokhu silungisa amaphutha kuze kulunge. We will address the root course of this problem with Durban Metro Police. They did not allow the buses in the route which was the shortest way to get to the start. We will also have to improve on cut offs and not allow non ticket holders to buy tickets in the morning of the race as this threw our numbers off the window. We had sold only 475 bus tickets by nightfall on Saturday. We then confirmed 7 buses with the company. We should all play our part in resolving this challenge by buying bus tickets at registration and not on the morning of the race."

Ramakongoana wins the 2023 Durban International Marathon in 2:10:11. At one stage he was on course to run 2:07. Organizers remain positive that Olympic qualification times cane be achieved at their race. Photo Credit: Durban International Marathon.

Despite the challenges they faced, organizers remain positive about the Durban International Marathon saying they remain committed to their goal of making this the fastest marathon in Africa. "So I think these opportunities with the good corporate support behind us, will allow us as South Africa to slowly move to the stage where we are able to stage world class events and marathons. It will be nice one day to have your best marathon runners come to South Africa to try and do what they do outside in the world - a 2:01 in South Africa. That would be great!”

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1 Comment

Mar 16, 2023

There are a couple of comments gleaned from "elite athletes" (not enough and none from women) but what about the teams which were supposed to be competing for the National Championship?

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