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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

Ultra runners celebrate as Prince Mangosuthu 52km will go ahead in September

Ultra marathon runners are celebrating upon hearing the news that the first post-Covid19 ultra distance marathon will take in September. The Prince Mangosuthu Ultra Marathon which was last held in 2019 was launched at the Elangeni Hotel in Durban on Thursday. The 52km race which is sponsored by Umzinyathi District Municipality and hosted by Biggersburg Athletic Club, is scheduled for the 5th of September and carries a handsome purse of R100 000 for both the male and female champions.

The race which usually attract runners from neighbouring countries like Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Botswana, was won by former Two Oceans Winner Mike Fokoroni two years ago. Speaking at the launch, race director Celi Makhoba could not contain his happiness at seeing the event finally drawing closer.

2019 winner of the Prince Mangosuthu 52km Mike Fokoroni pictured here winning the 2016 Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon. Photo Credit: Roger Sedres.

"This is an exciting day for me if you ask me," explained Makhoba, who is also a Comrades Marathon board member. "This is good news for runners who have been hit hard by Covid19. To see races with good money like this is encouraging especially since running doesn't attract the same cash injection that some other sporting codes do. The municipality (Umzinyathi) did a stellar job in ensuring this becomes a reality," he said.

With Covid19 numbers picking up in KwaZulu-Natal province, the race has to follow all the regulations to keep people safe. According to the rules governing the Coronavirus National State of Disaster first announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in March 2020, outdoor gatherings under the adjusted level 3 of the lockdown are limited to 100 people. But organisers are optimistic that the race can accommodate more runners, without falling foul of the law.

"We are targeting a field of 1 000 on race day. It's possible with the way we have planned," shared Makhoba. "Since our races range from 10km to 52km, the plan is to have different start times. The women's batch will start early in all of our races. Plus we must be strict in terms of the Covid19 regulations as no runner must arrive at the start point without a mask. We remain optimistic that the cases will drop closer to the race," he concluded.

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