One of South Africa’s most popular road races, the City 2 City Marathon in Gauteng, returns to the local road-running calendar on Sunday.
The Pretoria-to-Johannesburg race failed to take off last year after principal sponsor Bonitas Medical Fund pulled out.
The setback followed another disappointment for endurance runners when the 2013 edition of the Soweto Marathon was also cancelled because of financial woes.
In the absence of corporate backers, it took a partnership between Central Gauteng Athletics (CGA), Athletics Gauteng North, and the Joburg and Tshwane municipalities to resuscitate the race.
CGA president James Moloi said: “It becomes easy when we have sponsors on board because it costs about R3 million to stage an event of this magnitude. We had to cut down on operational costs to get City 2 City to run again. This is a race steeped in tradition and it must be preserved.”
Among other things, he said the organisers reduced the prize money, cut down on perimeter fencing and reduced the payment to clubs for the services of race marshals.
This year’s winning man and woman in the 50km will get R30 000 each – down from R50 000 in 2013. The 21km and 10km champions will receive R3 000 and R2 000, respectively.
“We will strive to make the race a well-organised event, with the hope to attract sponsors in future,” said Moloi.
The 50km race starts in Centurion and finishes in the James & Ethel Gray Park in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg.
The marathon will serve as an ideal preparatory race for the Soweto Marathon, which takes place on November 1.
The City 2 City – which incorporates the half-marathon and the 10km races – is also a qualifying event for the Two Oceans and Comrades marathons.
Runners can look forward to a bigger payday at the Soweto Marathon, which will offer a R200 000 first prize.
This is thanks to Old Mutual, which last month added the Soweto race to its growing portfolio of major local road races.
The financial planning institution took over the naming rights from sports apparel manufacturer Nike, which helped with the comeback of the iconic Soweto race last year.
Meanwhile, the CGA will kick off its 2015/16 track and field season at the Germiston Stadium in Ekurhuleni on Saturday.
For more information on the City 2 City and Soweto marathons, go to centralgautengathletics.co.za and sowetomarathon.com