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Elite and social runners delight as mass participation, sponsors trickle back

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Gerda Steyn, winner of the 94th Comrades Marathon on 9 June 2019 in Durban. (Photo by Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images)

Gerda Steyn, winner of the 94th Comrades Marathon on 9 June 2019 in Durban. (Photo by Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images)

Elite and social runners are set to mingle at the Run Your
City road running series that begins with the Durban 10km city race on 31

Stephen Mokoka, Gerda Steyn, Elroy Gelant and Irvette van
Zyl are expected to take part alongside 2 000 runners in the series that will
move to Cape Town for a 12km race on 21 November.

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New Athletics South Africa (ASA) president James Moloi said
their cooperation with government to drive vaccination and Covid return
protocol adherence helped open up such events for runners.

“We’ve done our part in terms of asking government to
open athletics,” Moloi said.

“We were told to start somewhere, like other sporting
codes, and encourage our people to vaccinate.

“Covid was heavy for us. Our athletes couldn’t
participate; couldn’t do anything. But as ASA, we are doing our best. Since I
came in, we have never cancelled events.

“We are opening bit by bit.”

The Run Your City Series also welcomed Cape Epic sponsors
Absa, who in recent years, withdrew from sponsoring two of SA’s top three
sports, football and rugby.

It’s been six years since Absa pulled out of their Springbok
headline sponsorship suddenly in 2015.

Absa ended its Premier Soccer League decade-long association
at the end of the 2019/20 season as sport and business felt the pandemic

Absa executive, Geoff Lee, explained that the bank was
looking at more participation sports, with a strong communal and healthy
lifestyle focus, such as cycling and running.

“We shifted our sponsorship focus from being a
viewer-led sponsorship, where you would see the brand presented on shirts of
our rugby and football icons – we are very proud of the history we have and
what we did there – to a participation-led strategy,” said Lee.

“We are about our colleagues and customers showing up
at any event like Run Your City and touch and feel the brand and resonate with
it – live with it throughout the year.

“The Run Your City Series was really attractive to us.
We noted throughout the Covid period that people really embraced this ethos of
health and wellness when we were running around in our gardens under lockdown
level five.

“Now we can get out there.” 

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