Record field, bumper prize pool and Comrades star power a winning recipe for big Durban road race

22 March 2018 | Web Article Number: ME20189089

Commerce & Trade

PROFESSIONAL services firm, Deloitte, has described the fourth running of the annual Deloitte Challenge as a “resounding success”, citing a record field, bumper prize pool and star power in the form of defending Comrades men’s champion Bongumusa Mthembu.

This year’s race, run between Ballito and Durban this past Sunday (18 March), attracted 8,500 entries, more than 2000 up from last year’s race, and had a prize pool of R90,000. The event is sponsored by Deloitte and hosted by the Dolphin Coast Striders running club. It consists of a marathon, half marathon, 10km and 5km fun run in addition to a 40km cycle.

“What a fantastic race,” said an enthusiastic Mthembu, shortly after completing this year’s 21km event. “This is a wonderful course and the perfect warm-up for the upcoming Two Oceans Marathon and, later, Comrades,” he said.

Another high-profile participant in this year’s Challenge was KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, who also ran the 21km event.

Comrades qualifier

Deloitte KwaZulu-Natal’s Office Managing Partner, Ruwayda Redfearn said that thanks to its new 18 March date, the Challenge was once again a Comrades Marathon qualifier, making it highly attractive to runners looking to add a scenic, relatively flat coastal course to their training for the famed ultramarathon. The route and climate also offer the ideal opportunity for achieving a Personal Best, improving Comrades hopefuls’ seedings.

“From humble beginnings in 2015 with just 4,300 entrants, the Deloitte Challenge has grown in leaps and bounds. Last year we had 6,300 runners and this year that jumped to 8,500. It’s evident from this surge in entries, and the growing buzz around the race in KZN and, increasingly, in other provinces that the Challenge is now an established fixture on the South African running calendar.”

Redfearn said the idea behind the Challenge was to make an impact on the lives of the global professional services firm’s employees, clients and society through encouraging a healthy lifestyle, as well as on the community through raising funds for LIV Village, a non-profit organisation for orphaned and vulnerable children.

A total of R36,000 was raised for LIV Village through donations from Deloitte Challenge participants this year.

Positive impact

“As this event grows, both in size and stature, we also aim to make an increasingly positive impact on the province’s economy through an increase in sports tourism and on East Coast residents by encouraging them to live life to the full and enjoy our beautiful climate and scenery.

“Having runners of the calibre of Bongumusa Mthembu and MEC Dhlomo among the field was the cherry on top,” Redfearn said.

Commenting on his preparations for defending his Comrades crown, Mthembu said he was confident and highly motivated. “I ran a perfect time in today’s Deloitte 21km event and that really gave me a boost.”

Mthembu added that he would be running Comrades and his other races this year in honour of fellow gold medallist Siphiwe Ndlela (28), who passed away earlier in March after falling ill at a training camp in the Drakensberg.

“He was one of rising stars in KZN. We lost him too young. I’ll be running all of my races this year, including Two Oceans and Comrades, in honour of his memory,” Mthembu said.

 

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