GARDEN ROUTE SPORT NEWS - The first-ever virtual Knysna Forest Marathon concluded at the end of the Virtual Knysna Oyster Festival on Saturday 4 July, after nine days of athletes running under the event's banner across the country.
Baily Neill, who is in charge of the race's administration, explained that, as it wasn't a formal race, they were unable to determine outright winners of the event.
"While we called it a virtual race, it wasn't exactly a race because people were able to run in such variable conditions around the country," she said. The virtual marathon began on 26 June and concluded on 4 July.
There were 1 268 entries from around the country for the virtual race which, even though it's less than a quarter of their usual number of entries, is a number that Neill and her organising team are happy with. "We cannot complain at all, we are very happy with the turnout we've had."
Neill also noted that the runners had been very understanding of a slightly slower process. "This was the first time we'd ever done this, so a lot of it was still foreign and as the only person who handled the admin for the race, it was tough at times to keep up," she said. "Everyone's been very patient and understanding of the situation, and I'm grateful to them for that."
Runners had the opportunity to take part in either a 10km, 21,1km, or 42,2km run, and had to submit their time and photos to organisers to verify that they had actually run the race. "We're also just really glad that we've been able to get runners up and about and going again," Neill said.
To still be able to contribute to charity as a traditional component of the Oyster Festival, there was an entrance fee for the virtual race. The event has four beneficiaries this year – Options Pregnancy, Famsa, Dorothy Broster Home and Knysna Education Centre – and established two ways to contribute to charity: original 2020 race entrants donating their entries, and the profit funds from the virtual race.
Neill explained that 170 of the original 3 431 entrants (who had entered before the pandemic struck) donated their entries to charity, which brought the total to be shared between the four charities to R50 000.
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