Why you have to do the Soweto Marathon
22 August 2016
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Brad Brown: Welcome back to Old Mutual Live, great things start here, great things start now. The countdown continues to the 2016 Old Mutual Soweto Marathon and there have been some significant changes made in the build-up to this year’s race.
We spoke to the Chairman of the Soweto Marathon Trust not so long ago to find out a little bit about his perspective on the race. Time now to chat to the brand new Race Director for 2016, Danny Bloomberg. Danny, welcome, nice to chat.
Danny Bloomberg: Thank you Brad, thanks for having me on your show.
BB: Danny, it’s not long to go now until the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon, you’re new in the position. I spoke to you shortly after the announcement was made at around the Comrades Marathon I think it was. All systems go, are you comfortable that everything is falling into place and we’re going to have a successful race day?
DB: Yes, so we’ve all been working flat out since we chatted at Comrades and we’re looking good for race day. Obviously with our new start and finish venue, we’re very excited, being the FNB stadium. But we’re working hard and we’re looking forward to it.
The appeal of the FNB Stadium start/finish
BB: Danny, talk to me a little bit, logistically about that new start and finish venue. Obviously in the past it started and finished at Nasrec, which is literally a stone’s throw from the FNB stadium. What’s going to be different about the start and finish? Is it starting and finishing in the stadium, is it just outside, how is it going to work?
DB: So, the start will be just outside of the stadium and then the finish will be inside the actual bowl itself. So it’s the first event of its nature that is going to finish inside the FNB stadium. We obviously have to be very cautious and wary of the sacred ground. Because that’s what it’s referred to at [inaudible 0.01.40]. I think from a running experience, to finish inside that FNB stadium is going to be an experience on its own because a lot of people haven’t actually been as close to the pitch side as they’re going to get. I think that experience alone is going to be amazing, just on its own.
BB: Danny, I think you’re spot on and funnily enough, I had a very similar experience earlier this year around the Cape Town Cycle Tour. They moved their Expo to the Cape Town stadium from the Good Hope Centre and the final walk through of the Expo was pitch side, at the Cape Town stadium. That was an incredible experience.
I’m pretty excited from a running experience that we’re going to get to finish in that stadium. I think it’s incredible, well done on getting that right, I think it’s phenomenal. A stadium is just so iconic in, not just in South Africa, but in Soweto. What’s happened in that stadium over the years, I think it’s wonderful.
DB: Listen, it is an iconic stadium and obviously the history and the heritage and worldwide, if you think about it, Soccer City or FNB stadium is rather. It’s known worldwide and we’re privileged and excited to be there this year.
Getting local clubs to be part of the organisation
BB: Danny, as far as logistics of the race go. Over the last few years there have been one or two issues that have cropped up. Are you comfortable that you’re on top of everything and you can assure runners that everything will run as smoothly as possible? You can never guarantee that everything is going to go 100%, but you’re doing your utmost to make sure that it gets to as close to 100% as you can.
DB: We’re going to be using 40 running clubs that are from the Soweto region that are going to assist us with the logistics. We have started planning a lot earlier and we need to look at those and address those challenges that we had in the past.
But yes, from our side, what we want to say to the runners is, come out and enjoy and experience race day. We’re going to look at all those problems and make sure that they’re ironed out. We’re going to make the race something to talk about.
We want to take, especially on the marathon, take you through those heritage sites and give you that experience that you deserve as a runner. We don’t want to focus on the negative, we want to make this a first step into where we want to take this race and where we want it to be.
BB: Danny, I’m also really chuffed, obviously the marathon is what it’s all about, but the half marathon and the 10 have a place in an event like this too. I’m super excited that both those runs are going into Soweto as well. They’re not staying in the industrial area around Nasrec, they’re actually going to take you into Soweto and let the 10 and 21 runners experience what the marathon runners experience year after year.
10 and 21km races just as appealing
DB: Yes, so it’s a good point that Brad, we are going to be taking those two distances through Soweto and some people might be experiencing it for the very first time. So those two distances will go through Soweto and those distances are becoming very important because we see the progression.
I think there’s a lot of 21km runners that are now going to start saying, right, I’m strong in the 21 discipline, now I want to move to the marathon. We’re seeing that from a 10km, a lot of the guys who were doing 10km are now challenging themselves to do the 21. So those two distances are very important for us and we want to make sure that the experience is very similar to what the marathon would be.
BB: Danny, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this to you, I might have mentioned it at Comrades, but I’m going to state it for the record on this podcast so there’s no ambiguity. I reckon what you guys at the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon need to do, like Comrades has got a back to back medal. That if somebody comes and runs the Up and then runs the Down they get a separate medal.
You guys need to encourage people to make the step up year after year. If they in year one run the 10km, the following year run the 21km and the following year run the 42km. They get a special medal that they’ve basically done the tri-factor in three years. I think that would be such a great way to get people stepping up and running longer distances and helping people on the journey. I’m putting that suggestion in there, that’s my 5c worth. Use it, don’t use it, but I think it would be pretty cool!
DB: Then you and I must make a deal here –
BB: Tell me.
DB: If we run with that, we can’t call it the Brad Brown Medal.
BB: No, you can call it what you want! I think it’s pretty cool ….
DB: The idea is great Brad.
BB: I thought you were going to tell me that if we make the deal and we implement it, you and I are both going to do it.
DB: No, no, that conversation we’ll have another time! Yes, Brad, I love that idea and it’s something we should work at. It will obviously create a lot of attraction, I think that implementation alone has helped Comrades grow their number. Because if a guy does a back to back, he’s bitten by the bug. So he does his back to back and now he wants to do five and then he wants to do 10, so yes, it does help grow the numbers.
Entry numbers and who to get yours
BB: Absolutely and Comrades runners battle with math. Because two is halfway to ten and if you run two, you might as well go and do ten, that’s how it works. Danny, I’m super excited, entries are open, how are they going? Is there a chance of them selling out? Are you capping entries? How’s it looking?
DB: Yeah, so I think, I want to put this out there and I want to promote the entries, people must visit the website, www.sowetomarathon.com. There will be a cap at 9 000 for the marathon and then 8 and 8 for the 21km and the 10km. Go out there, enter, don’t be disappointed if you get to a stage where entries are closed. They’re looking to close on the 5th of September. So we are going to see a lot of entries towards that date, so go out there and enter.
BB: Absolutely, www.sowetomarathon.com, that’s the website you can get to. Danny, thank you very much for your time, I know things are pretty hectic in the build-up to the race, you’ve got lots on your plate, best of luck. If there’s anything we can do from our side or if there’s anything that you need to let the runners know, please give us a shout, we’ll get you back on, no worries.
Keep up the great work mate, looking forward to seeing you in November, first weekend in November. It’s always a great occasion and I can’t wait to see what you’re going to do with the 2016 Old Mutual Soweto Marathon.
DB: Brad, before we go, is your entry for the marathon, is that in, can we count you in?
BB: I’ve got to work Danny, I’m doing work for Old Mutual on the day. I would love to, but I think I’m working. If I’m not working, I’ll run, there’s the deal!
DB: Okay, you’ve put it out there, everyone has heard you, you’ve put it out there. But thank you Brad, very much for your support, we appreciate it. I would value an opportunity to chat to you guys again before race day. If we don’t chat to you before, we’ll see you race day and we’re looking forward to it and thanks again for your support.
BB: Danny, before I let you go, I know we were chatting as well, and I’m not sure if it is happening, I know there was talk about a possibility of an Expo before the race, is that on the cards?
DB: Yes, most definitely. We’ve pulled in Conquer Exhibitions, they manage the likes of Two Oceans and Comrades and they’re coming in and helping us this year. So there’s definitely an Expo this year. The experience from race collection itself is really going to be uplifted, it’s going to be on the standards of what the runners experienced at other events.
BB: I love that, Danny, that’s superb, I can’t wait to see it all pull together, best of luck and we look forward to catching up soon.
DB: Great, thanks Brad.