A Drab and Unremarkable Race with Pretensions: Gauteng Sports Challenge

Gauteng requires a big city marathon on the scale of the London Marathon but the Gauteng Sports Challenge doesn’t fit the bill

With all the hype & a large dollop of prize money, one would expect world class organisation, a stunning route a la the Two Oceans & the excitement of a large-city marathon.

Instead the Gauteng Sports Challenge of 2013 had none of these attributes.

Firstly the route! In place of an aesthetically appealing route what one got was appealing but only for the ascetically inclined. By following a route roughly parallel to Main Reef Road but approximately two kilos north of it, from Krugersdorp to the Joburg Stadium, it encompassed the smelly insalubrious industrial parks, run-down housing estates & suburbs that have seen better days.

If truth be told, this race is a guided tour of the least scenic areas of the Reef.

So what can one expect from an organisational point of view to mitigate this? The short non-expletive laced answer is NOTHING. In truth the opposite applied with a litany of bungled operational aspects all designed in management jargon not to delight & excite the customer.

Some of the most annoying included the following:

  • The prospect of a free water-wicking T-Shirt was enticing except that they were all size S for small.
  • The organisation of the buses was shambolic to put it mildly. Firstly in some instances the ticket was not placed in the envelope together with the Race Number as it was supposed to be. Attempting to obtain a replacement ticket was a fool’s errand. Secondly the original arrangement was that the buses would leave the Joburg Stadium at 4:30. By 6:00 many participants had abandoned their attempt to get to the start using the buses & had either ditched any attempt at running the race at all or by then found alternative modes of transport to the start.
  • As a result the start was half an hour late.
  • On the 21km course, the first Coke was available at the 15km mark

Categorising the organisation as abysmal would understate the lack thereof.

In short, what is the draw card? Apart from the prize winning contenders, there is nothing. Will it ever grow into a legendary race such as the Two Oceans or the Comrades? NEVER EVER!

Does it have pretensions of competing with favourites such as the Loskop or Om-Die-Dam? Yes, it might have but it will never be in that league. Apart from a drab & unremarkable route, chaotic organisation will quickly relegate this race into one not for the masses but the elite runners & those trying to run mega-mileage in terms of the 1000 Km Challenge. For the remaining 90% of a running field, this race has no attractions & will never become a must-run race such The Tough One or the Springs Striders 32km race.

What a pity. Gauteng deserves a major race to compete with the likes of the Two Oceans. We certainly have the number of runners to justify it but it will not be the Gauteng Sports Challenge.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the Organisers do not care as their eyes are fixed elsewhere viz the Elite Runners.

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