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RUNNERS' GUIDE
Maritzburg City Marathon say's Thank you

Thank you for the support for the Maritzburg City Marathon these past few years.

By John Hall - race director of the Maritzburg City Marathon

 

Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, we have decided that the 2019 event was the last Maritzburg City Marathon.

 

The reasons are too many to list here, but, not least of them is the lack of meaningful financial support from the City of Pietermaritzburg/Msunduzi. Certain individuals within the municipality are extremely supportive but, in the main, they appear not to care at all.

The internal political struggle between the factions within Msunduzi as well as the disinformation campaign carried out by the suspended KZNA board against ASA affected our build-up dramatically.

The sudden loss of our main cash sponsor towards the end of 2018 and the non-payment by one of our previous title sponsors, for three years, almost buried us.

In an effort to save on costs, and thus save the event, we did all the admin and entries ourselves. A small group did all the number preparation and packing. This meant 18 to 20 hour days from mid-January until the race. This impacted heavily on our day jobs and our health. All this with no reward save the enjoyment of the participants.

We also doubt this City’s capacity to sustain an event of this size. The attitude of motorists and their aggression, lack of respect for uniformed officers and disregard for the rules of the road a frightening.

Add the athletes’ disregard for the rules of the sport, infrastructure placed for their benefit and inconsiderate actions as both pedestrians and drivers, after they have finished, towards other athletes still participating, and one fears that, sometime soon, someone will be injured or possibly killed. The most disappointing aspect was the number of runners clearly running in other peoples’ numbers.

This decision has not been taken lightly and is, probably, a year past when it should have been made.

Thank you all for your friendship, support and we wish all athletes well for the future.

We are very proud to have successfully delivered this event, with the help of amazing volunteers and partners, for the past 23 years.

 

THE PAST 30 YEARS - WHAT AN AMAZING RIDE

Like everything I do, I have poured my heart and soul into athletics since my comeback to running in 1989.

The Race of the Dekade set the standards and, when opportunity presented itself, the Maritzburg Marathon took centre stage.

By default we inherited the Midlands 100 Miler and made the best of that before dangers on the road dictated its demise.

At a point we added the 100 Capital Classic but, in the beginning of the ASA/KZNA struggle, last year, this event fell victim.

Ecclesiastes 3 says, there is a time to come and a time to go. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to build and a time to break down. A time to sew and a time to reap....

We built the Maritzburg Marathon on passion and a lot of support. But, sadly, “in kind” sponsorship doesn’t pay the bills.

Column centimetres and refrigeration lorries are essential to the standard of the event but don’t pay for T shirts, medals, toilets, safety and security, timing, race numbers, etc, etc. For that one needs cash and entry fees don’t cover that. especially, when one has to pay VAT, race levies and bank charges before the fees begin to be allocated to the race.

There is a time for everything. Maybe I am old and my ideas outdated. I am sad to see the end but, if you ever believe you are indispensable, put your hand in a bucket of water, stir it as much as you like and then withdraw it. The hole that’s left behind is how much you will be missed.

There are other events. They will benefit.

I am not bitter. I am sad. I am relieved.

We go out at the top, as did the Richmond Marathon, and no one has yet been hurt through any fault of ours.

Below is a short history and the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’m just beyond 18 to 20 hour days for 6 to eight weeks on a stretch and especially with no reward save some pats on the back.

 

MY PASSION! MY BABY! THE MARITZBURG CITY MARATHON - IT WILL BE NO MORE.

A short history

In 1996 Collegians Harriers (Graham Eglington) asked us if we would replace the Richmond Marathon.  In 1997 and 1998 we staged the Maritzburg Marathon and Half as a no frills event with no sponsors

From 1999 to 2008 PostNet sponsored the event.  Those first few years, the race lost about R5k to R15k per annum carried byt the club as our contribution to the sport.

In 2010 we joined AIMS (something I have paid for each year and the two trips Eileen and I undertook to Athens in 2010, Prague in 2012 and Durban’s Congress in 2014 were all paid for by ourselves)

In 2011 we secured sponsorship from, amongst others, DUT R100000.00 which was set aside for the Marathon Flame

In 2012 we brought the Marathon Flame to Africa for its first and (thus far) only visit. The race “lost” R100000 and this caused great consternation in Carbineers AC.

The 2013 Race had already happened

There was so much conflict at the AGM that we resigned from Carbineers and were later asked to come back.

In 2014 we agreed a Contract with the Club that effectively handed the race to John Hall along with all risk or profit.

We subsidized the event since then, almost breaking square in 2017 and then Msunduzi and One of the title sponsors reneged on their sponsorship. This left a hole for payment of  Race levy, medals, charities and a couple of others meaning we incurred a debt of R256000.00

In 2018 we recovered to only be short of paying the race levy when, once more, one of the title sponsors and Msunduzi reneged on the cash sponsorship, almost burying us.

In 2019 we lost Medihelp’s cash sponsorship. By frugal management, not paying race levies and many trade exchanges, we might only have to subsidize about R80000 from AG Hall.

Every cup of coffee, lunch or breakfast purchased and every trip or call to squeeze money or encourage a trade exchange, comes out of John and Eileen’s purse.

We have no regrets. We have not starved. We have wonderful memories, shared amazing experiences and have met many amazing people.

 

The system has failed its constituents.

Clubs seem only to be interested in selling numbers and kit and no one educates their members on rules, etiquette or plain good manners.

2019 Maritzburg City Marathon - The end

Because of the race levy issue, KZNA left the marathon off of the draft fixture list. Their egos and need for funding the seemingly endless court battles were greater than the need to continue and foster the Maritzburg City Marathon.

Last minute negotiation between the then President and myself assured our fixture at the 11th hour.

The rumour-mongering suggesting the marathon was cancelled, the delays in producing the fixture lists and subsequent battle between KZNA and ASA and delay in licences affected our pre entries dramatically.

The internal divisions within the Msunduzi Municipality turned us into their political football, as well. The continuous battle to get the City to present itself in such a way that visitors might come back was incredibly taxing and stressful.

Eileen and I were working a full day at Teaching and AG Hall respectively and 6 to 8 hours after hours doing the actual on line and data capture to save money. We emptied safety pins from old envelopes and did what we could to reduce costs wherever possible.

The arrogant demands of entrants, lack of payment for entries, resulting in hours of repeated phone calls, etc, took its toll.

The marquee that we erect for runners who can’t afford accommodation, for which Eileen and I were assaulted in 2016, nearly got me arrested for “land invasion” this year and then I have to endure abuse on my personal number and Facebook because the generator ran out of petrol and it took us 20 minutes to get it restarted at 10pm!

Race day was the hardest. The inconsiderate attitude of runners and lack of respect for other athletes and rules in the sport are horrible.

Sunday morning and ....

.....runners moved speedfence that WE paid for to protect THEIR running lanes and simply parked in those roads. One runner parked his SUV in the middle of the running lane 250 metres from the finish line, where it stayed until they finished their race.

.....runners forced their cars past our security officers and parked in prohibited areas and so prevented the golf driving range from operating

.... runners drove across the sports field against explicit orders of security guards

.... runners ignored security and marshals and parked in the church parking and across driveways near Comrades House

....runners parking and driving away abused our committee members and a number of marshals and security

....runners shat (I’m sorry - there is no other way to describe it) all over the golf driving range, parking fields and the putt putt course. Yes! On the carpets between the bushes.

....runners simply ignore the rules and run in other people’s race numbers.

....runners, incorrectly licenced (albeit because of continuous disinformation sewn by KZNA), abused patient officials and one nearly knocked one of our volunteers over.

On Saturday night and Sunday morning we had to endure the late demands and impatience of SAIDS officials.

A club sent two young ladies to borrow two tables and we have had to pay for two tables because they stole them! I have had to pay for them. R2760.00 AND I’VE BEEN WORKING SO HARD TO SAVE CENTS.

Runners leaving the venue were driving recklessly amongst those still running.

The time has come for the Maritzburg City Marathon to retire whilst it is at its peak and before someone gets hurt or killed whilst I invest mine and Eileen’s pension and health on ungrateful, selfish people and a city that doesn’t know how to help itself.

No one believes we do this for nothing. In fact, it’s not “for nothing”. IT COSTS US MONEY!

You’ve “paid for your race”. “The race is so expensive”. If you bother yourself to believe that things cost money, come and spend a few hours with me and I’ll show you exactly what your entry fee doesn’t pay for.