The Nelson Mandela Foundation and uMgungundlovu District Municipality, on Wednesday, launched the third Mandela Day Marathon.
A total prize of R1.3 million is up for grabs for participants of the marathon, scheduled for Sunday, 31 August. There will also be a mountain biking event on 30 August.
The foundation and the municipality have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to ensure that the marathon continues the legacy of the iconic former President Mandela.
Speaking at the launch in Johannesburg, Executive Mayor of uMgungundlovu District Municipality, Yusuf Bhamjee, said the launch was a special moment in the history of marathons.
The Mandela Day Marathon has been marked in the international marathon’s calendar and will now take place on the last Sunday of every August.
In its inaugural year in 2012, the marathon attracted about 1 500 participants. The race grew by 300 percent last year, attracting 5 500 strong participants.
“This year the marathon envisages about 10 000 participants, inclusive of professional athletes for 21.1km and 42.2km events, social runners for 10km, a special VIP 46664 race, children’s race as well as mountain bikers event,” said Mayor Bhamjee.
He said the annual marathon was dedicated to the struggle icon, whom the municipality shared a special relationship with.
“uMgungundlovu is where, on 26 March 1961, the young Nelson Mandela made his last speech as a free man before he went into exile at Arya Samaj Hall, now known as Manaye Hall, during the All Africa Conference.
“It is also where he was finally arrested when he came back to the country on 5 August 1962 at Tweedie near Howick,” said Mayor Bhamjee.
He added that the marathon was conceived out of those memorable events.
Mayor Bhamjee said Mandela Day Marathon was his municipality’s and the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government’s contribution to making every day a Mandela Day.
The launch of the marathon comes as South Africa commemorates Mandela Month.
Every year on 18 July, Madiba’s birthday, the country honours the international icon by pledging 67 minutes of their time to give back to communities. This month will be the first Mandela Day since the passing away of Madiba in December last year.
Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Sello Hatang, said: “The overarching objective of Mandela Day is to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better, and in doing so build a global movement for good.
“Ultimately it seeks to empower communities everywhere to take action, inspire change and make every day a Mandela Day”.
He said the uMgungundlovu District Municipality was a “change maker” as it had initiated the Mandela Day Marathon as one of the 67 ways to change the world.
Hatang, who hoped the marathon would become an annual event, said it also aimed to inspire change through sports.
Funds raised by the marathon will be donated towards the foundation’s Mandela Day Literacy Programme.
Entries will close on 31 July for the four main road races namely the 46664, 10km, 21.1km and the flagship 42.2km.