iSimangaliso Half Marathon

iSimangaliso Half Marathon doubles its entries!

See us on eNCA (DSTV 403) on Sunday 17th May from 06h00

The St Lucia Estuary section of iSimangaliso Wetland Park was undoubtedly the most colourful and festive place to be on Sunday 10th May. An unprecedented surge in entrants for the annual iSimangaliso St Lucia Half Marathon and Fun Run/ Walk powered by USM resulted in 954 official entries and a lot of additional people joining the fun – almost double the previous year’s number! It was no surprise to learn that this was voted as one of the country’s Top 40 half marathons, out of 220, by Runner’s World magazine.

“We were thrilled and overwhelmed by the phenomenal support shown for the event. This year, the race was dedicated to the memories of three of iSimangaliso’s colleagues who were lost in 2014: Herbert Mthembu, Thembi Buthelezi and Jabu Msezane. What a great turnout this was to honour them as well as contribute towards rare and endangered species conservation in the Park,” said iSimangaliso’s Marketing and Brand Manager, Lindy Duffield.

The warmth of a cloudless May day and the idyllic backdrop of the Lake St Lucia Estuary combined to create a wonderfully festive atmosphere at the event tent, with MC Keith Eaton and Radio station Shine FM’s Storm Manana keeping the crowd going all morning. Coverage by eNCA news and Sunday World news also ensured a number of hearty waves and grins from the runners, with a few shouts of “Hello Mom!” thrown in due to the race date coinciding with Mother’s Day. 

Getting the action underway was the Kiddie’s race with 44 little ones taking on the 2km route with intense enthusiasm! The race was won by 10 year old Graham Wynne followed by Siyanda Msimango (9) and Elliot Vermeulen (9). Organiser Susan Combrink even arranged a mascot ‘crocodile’ to join the kids, symbolising the rare and endangered species for which funds are raised. 

The main 21.1km event saw a record number of participants (216) striding out for the attractive cash prizes, while the 10km was the most popular category of entry. Whether runners and walkers did the half marathon, 10km or 5 km, there were some very happy faces on reaching the finish line! 

First female and recipient of the Thembi Buthelezi Memorial Trophy was Slindile Chilli (left, with Alice Mthembu), storming in at 1:27:35; and first home overall, in a time of 1:09:02, was Ayanda Mncube (right) who received the Jabu Msezane Memorial Trophy from iSimangaliso’s Thandi Shabalala and St Lucia Ski Boat Club Chairman Brad McLaren. Each received R1700 in prize money. *(Results in all categories can be found on the website address listed below.)

Raising awareness, raising funds

Thirty percent of all entry fees are donated to the iSimangaliso Rare and Endangered Species Fund, supporting the costs of monitoring, treating and introducing animals such as rhino within the world heritage site. The next species to benefit from these funds will be eland which are being re-introduced into the Park as the final of all of the historically occurring species. Other items purchased to date have been collars and transmitters for rhino as well as oribi, wild dog, elephant and cheetah.

Just as important is the educational aspect of the event which aims to raise awareness of conservation of natural areas and resources, particularly amongst the youth. With 99 scholars from local schools sponsored by Umfolozi Sugar Mill, and additional learners joining the effort, there was a great presence of the younger generation pounding the pavement. Schools participated in the 10km event with some fine results produced. First home was Bongumusa Nxumalo of Silethukukhanya High School in an impressive time of 0:41:23. Hot on his heels was Celimpilo Mlambi of Phiwamandla High School, followed by Siphelele Nsibande of Ikusasalethu High School. In the Primary school section, Zwelakhe Mdletshe representing the team from Mtubatuba Striders came in first, Ntozakhe Zikhali of uMnotho Primary second, and in third place was Melusi Zulu from Uphaphasi Primary School. Well done to all the budding athletes in the iSimangaliso region! 

In a fantastic show of support for the Mthembu family, the Herbert Mthembu Trophy for Best School was won by Kingdom Christian College of Mtubatuba – where his children were educated – and presented to their educator, Mr Carthbert Ganyawu, by Herbert’s widow, Alice Mthembu.

Says Lindy Duffield: “iSimangaliso wishes to thank its event partners and the numerous sponsors and supporters without whom the event would not be the great success that it is”:

Umfolozi Sugar Mill (USM), St Lucia Ski Boat Club, St Lucia Ratepayers, Zululand Multi Sports Club, Mtubatuba Striders along with Advantage Tours, Avalone Guest House, Barraca Restaurant, Bhangazi Horse Safaris, Braza, Elephant Lake Hotel, Extreme Nature Tours, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Fur Elize, Heritage Tours, Hippo Hideaway, Igwalagwala Guest House, Katanga Gates, Katanga Property Care, Kauai, Lidiko Lodge, Little Eden, Monzi Safaris, Mtubatuba Striders, Ndiza Lodge, Ocean Basket, Parker Cottages, Santa Lucia Guest House, Shakabarker Tours, Shoreline Boat Safaris, St Lucia Kayak Safaris, St Lucia Liquor Store, St Lucia Pick-n-Save Spar, St Lucia Wetlands Guest House, Susan Combrink Biokinetics, Thyme Square, Umlilo Lodge, Walkabout, Wetland Water, and Zulani Guest House.

* Results can be found on our event page. Visit http://www.isimangaliso.com or Facebook to see our gallery of photographs.

The next in iSimangaliso’s ECO-Series events is the iSimangaliso MTB 4 Day powered by Nashua, taking place from 20-23 August 2015. Details can be found at http://www.isimangaliso-mtb.co.za.

For more information on the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Youtube, or visit our website at http://www.isimangaliso.com. Media enquiries should be directed to Media Officer Siyabonga Mhlongo at siyabonga@isimangaliso.com or on 084 382 0884.

Newsflash No.: 2015.05.15

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