The Weekend Witness Maritzburg Marathon will shine brighter than ever this year, after its organizing committee secured the illuminated presence of the iconic Marathon Flame on South African soil. This is the very first time that such a potent symbol of road running makes its way onto the African continent.
The Marathon Flame is the symbol of the Association of International Marathon and Distance Races (AIMS) and has long been associated with the positive attributes of hope, peace and goodwill. It is further representative of the principles of fairness, camaraderie and cooperation in sport and in life, sharing the ideals of our very own world-renowned Comrades Marathon.
Having been established in November 2007, on the eve of the Athens Classic Marathon in Greece, the Marathon Flame has travelled to some exotic locations worldwide. It is however reserved for travel only to select cities which host major marathon events.
It’s presence in KwaZulu-Natal’s capital city of Pietermaritzburg is therefore extremely significant and a revered recognition of the rank of the local Weekend Witness Maritzburg Marathon, which over the years has become the most popular qualifying race for the Guinness-endorsed Ultimate Human Race.
The Flame burns with a long and fiery history and commemorates a beautiful story of strength, fortitude and heroism and with it the origins of the marathon. For it was from the battlefield of Marathon, in the ancient Greek city, where a messenger called Phidippides ran to the current Greek capital city of Athens, and set the pace for what has come to be known as the ‘marathon’.
It was only five years ago that the organisers of the Athens Marathon set in motion the travelling flame initiative, which is a joint venture of the Municipality of Marathon and the Hellenic Athletics Federation (SEGAS).
With much pride and honour, the City of Choice will play host to the Marathon Flame for one week only, in the run-up to the Weekend Witness Maritzburg Marathon which takes place on Sunday, 26 February 2012.
Msunduzi Municipality Mayor, The Honourable Chris Ndlela will have the privilege of setting fire to the flame at the official lighting ceremony on the morning of Thursday, 23 February 2012. The public is welcome to join local running enthusiasts at the Carbineer Gardens of Peace, next to the Pietermaritzburg City Hall for this auspicious event.
John Hall, Race Director of the Weekend Witness Maritzburg Marathon says: ‘This is a first for Africa and we are totally excited. I think it’s incredibly symbolic for the marathon movement and athletes in general to be so closely associated with the Marathon Flame and to host our distinguished guests from Greece.’
Hall adds, ‘On a personal level, I was fortunate to have participated in the Athens Classic Marathon and to have been part of the 2500th anniversary of the marathon. It was a truly memorable experience.’
He continues, ‘From watching the flame lighting ceremony in Athens to bringing the flame to Pietermaritzburg was a huge feat for the Maritzburg Marathon’s organising committee. It was a long process to get the flame to South Africa but well worth the effort.’
More details about the ever-growing Weekend Witness Maritzburg Marathon (powered by Clover) may be obtained at www.pmb42.co.za or contact John Hall on 0824917679.