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TV blackout did not deter runners, organisers of the popular Soweto Marathon

DESPITE ANIMOSITY that is prevailing all over, we shall let the process take its place, says Soweto Marathon Trust chairman Sello Khunou said after the 27th edition of the annual race.

This follows the controversial decision not to broadcast the much liked Soweto Marathon this past Sunday.

It is believed SuperSport holds the rights to broadcast the race, as part of a broader deal with Athletics South Africa (ASA) which includes all road running events sanctioned by the national federation, but the organisers had reportedly wanted the SABC to televise the race in order to take a cut of the pie – a demand which was turned down by ASA, in line with its SuperSport contract.

Talking off-record to this reporter and other colleagues after the race, the dejected but determined Khunou said we are still in discussions regarding the broadcast issue, which has been disturbing.

“Many people around the country wanted to watch the race and we thought we would have reached some sort of agreement. So it is disappointing, but until we have signed on the dotted line, we won’t be able to give a full report on what’s happening.”

We shall let the process take its place before committing to anything, he said.

This year the People’s Race-as its known- did not have a title sponsor a fact that did not sit well with Khunou.

“Not having a title sponsor, it did affect the preparations but we’re optimistic in the coming months all will be resolved with the board and other stakeholders,” he said.

We’re hopeful the department of sport nationally, will come on board, we need them in times like these. In three years’ time we shall be celebrating 30th edition and it must be well documented as we target 150 000 entries, he said.

Despite the rumblings at both ASA and the Soweto Marathon organisers, the race drew over 20 000 runners drawn from Lesotho, Ethiopia and other neighbouring states.

Ethiopians Daba Ifa Debele and fellow countryman Gadisa Bekele Gutama, took first and seconds medals respectively, followed by Tsepo Ramashamole of Lesotho for third position.

South Africans did not match Ethiopian women who also did a clean sweep with Chaltu Bedo Negashu winning the race, followed by fellow country compatriots Tinebebe Nebiyu Ali and Amelework Fikadu Bosho, who came in second and third, respectively.

With another vote of motion of no confidence lurking, the Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Dr Mpho Phalatse started and participated in the 10km race. She finished in just under two hours and credited the spirit to her office staff who were with her during the race.

Three firefighters Jerry Machabele from Brixton Fire Station, Sikhumbuzo Mbixane from Turffontein Fire Station, and Welcome Moatli from Jabulani Fire Station received a heroes’ welcome at FNB stadium after finishing the 42km race in full firefighting gear as a tribute to their fallen colleagues, who perished in the fire that engulfed the Bank of Lisbon building in 2018.

Image provided (Cooling off. Mayor of CoJ Mpho Phalatse participated in the 10km race despite the troubles in her City).

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