HOT TOPIC: Club Gazebo Positioning
Club Gazebo sales opened on 13 February 2018, and two-thirds of the sites available on the Cricket Oval have already been booked by Running Clubs. Meanwhile, there have been significant comment across various Social Media platforms regarding the new venue, as well as the fact that Club Gazebos may no longer be stationed along the finish line.
Here are some facts that may provide more clarity on the matter...
Every year, as part of our event planning, we have to apply for a permit to host the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon. In order to receive this permit, we are required to comply with the safety and Disaster Management requirements as stipulated by the City of Cape Town. It is a criminal offense to ignore these instructions, and we are required by law to offer our full coorperation.
While the OMTOM Half Marathon has been a sold-out event for a number of years, the OMTOM Ultra Marathon has also shown an exponential growth in numbers and now runs at capacity (11 000 participants) too. This has resulted in a significant increase in congestion – comprising both participants and their supporters – on the finish field.
This congestion has been cause for concern for a number of years now, and it has finally come to a point where our Disaster Management team issued us with a series of instructions to ease the flow on the field. Last year we were instructed to reduce the number of structures on the field, and while we made every attempt to accommodate all parties and reduce congestion, our efforts did not make a significant difference.
After much negotiation with the City, we were given a choice: To find an alternative venue for Club Gazebo structures, or remove them as an offering entirely. We decided as a team that not having Club Gazebos at the event would be a disservice to those runners who have always supported us. This left us with the task of finding a suitable venue, which we did in the Cricket Oval.
We know that it’s not the ideal “on the finish line” location many Clubs had hoped for, and we are working hard to provide an exclusive Gazebo area where runners can relax. You can still support your team mates from the public grandstand, and then take a shuttle to your Club Gazebo. There will be a shuttle running between the UCT Info Centre and the Woolsack Bridge throughout the day. In addition, there will be a food and bar area for exclusive use by Club Members utilising this space, and this area will play host to our Category Prize Giving at 2pm, giving you the opportunity to celebrate your fellow runners’ Race Day success.
The reality is that the Two Oceans Marathon has grown to the extent where it can no longer facilitate certain elements in the way that a smaller race can. Look at any other mass participation running event locally (e.g. Soweto or Comrades Marathon) or internationally (e.g. London or New York Marathon), and you will not find Club Gazebos along the finish line.
Runners have commented on the VIP / Sponsor section adjacent to the finish line: Event sponsors cover an overwhelmingly large percentage of the cost to run an event of this stature. This was presented to all Clubs and Club members present at the recent Club Workshop held in Rondebosch. (If you belong to a Club in Cape Town and they were not present at this meeting, please chat to them about representing you at Club meetings held by event organisers.) The bottom line is this: without sponsorship, the OMTOM cannot take place and won't have a sustainable future.
As the OMTOM organisers we are doing everything we can to provide comfortable facilities for all, while working within the required parameters we were given.
This is a serious matter of legally complying with the rules and guidelines of the authorities. And every decision made is the interest of YOUR safety.
Here is an aerial photograph taken of the Finish Field, just before the Half Marathon cut-off in 2017. Another photograph was taken around the time of the Ultra Marathon cut-off, with minimal difference. Now, imagine what would have happened in a worst-case scenario…