Great excitement with return of Legends Ultra

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The return to the local road running calendar of the Legends 68km Marathon, albeit on a revamped route, along with the new version half marathon, a brand new 10km and 5km fun run is set to have a significant impact on sports tourism in the region.

The recent announcement has certainly got the running community talking and it is clear that Daan Louw, the president of Border Athletics, is busy rallying the troops for an organisational push in the five month build-up to race day on September 24.

Speaking yesterday Luthando Bara, chairman of Legends said: “We have heard a call from the athletic community to do all in our power to bring back the marathon. The unity of purpose from both the organisers and the sponsors has been most heart warming.

“Numerous meetings were held in 2016 and early this year to ensure this outcome.

“Leadership by the MEC for sport, recreation, arts and culture, Pemmy Majodina has been exemplary in this regard.

“Since the announcement in yesterday’s Daily Dispatch the phone lines of all involved have been ringing at regular intervals as requests for more information spreads.

“Louw, who has been intimately involved in the organisation of the event, spoke to us and filled us with enthusiasm,’’ he said:

“Athletics South Africa and Border Athletics are delighted that the province’s flagship race, the Legends Ultra Marathon, has been revived’’.

The new ultra route is a fast one, starting at the Bhisho Stadium, working its way down to enter the N2 at the entrance to Breidbach, all the way along the N2 towards East London to the Sasol Garage on the NE Expressway. It continues along the NE Expressway and finishes at the Orient Beach.

It is exciting to note that the 21.1km route will be run on the 30th anniversary of the epic South African Half Marathon Championships which were held in East London in 1987 when the record time of 60:11 was set by Matthews Temane.

This day caters for all runners – the ultra, the half marathon, a 10km and a 5km fun run.

A big thank you to all sponsors involved with this race with special mention of the Legends Founder and CEO, Bara, for his insight into bringing these races back to East London shores.

All runners, families and supporters should come out in their numbers for a day of healthy exercise, enjoyment and fun.

We approached two of Border’s top distance runners Luthando Hejana, first local man at last weekend’s Two Oceans and Andrea Ranger, the second Border woman home at the same race, for comment but both appear to have been taken somewhat by surprise at the announcement and are perhaps still digesting what it means to their race plans, or indeed bank balance, for the year.

Comrades is just five weeks away so it may be a little early to predict who will be in the field but it seems a certainty that any runners who were hoping to place in the top three at Two Oceans and never made it, will find Legends an attractive alternative with ample time to prepare.

Accommodation establishments and eateries in the city would do well to plan ahead in order that they might maximise full benefit from the influx of runners, their support teams and families that are expected to travel from Gauteng, Free State, Mpumulanga, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and indeed from other African countries.

The big corporate clubs will definitely be keen to have a strong presence so expect to see runners from KPMG, Maxed Elite, the various branches of Nedbank and many others.

Buffalo City has much to look forward to.

As published in the Daily Dispatch 2017