Charity organisations will be the big winners from forest marathons
THE 33rd Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival is set to come to an action-packed end this weekend with thousands of festivalgoers expected to pack the coastal holiday town until tomorrow.
At least 8 500 of them will participate in the popular Momentum Cape Times Forest Marathon and Half Marathon today, with runners from across the country taking on the challenge.
The event has been part of the festival from the start, and has grown to be a “bucket list” race among runners, from serious athletes to weekend warriors.
“It has grown in popularity because of its uniqueness. All the runners are transported in about 120 taxis to the start line which is deep in the famous Knysna Forest,” race director Leon Brown said.
When the race was established in 1984, between 300 and 400 runners participated.
But today the event is capped at 8 500 competitors – 7 300 in the half marathon and 1 200 in the full marathon.
From the drop-off in the forest, runners complete challenging, yet beautiful routes which includes spectacular views of the Knysna Lagoon and The Heads, before reaching the finish line at the festival grounds.
But the event is not only about running. It’s charity drive has also gained momentum over the years. Last year more than R930 000 was raised for local charities.
“A large portion of the event budget is channelled to support several local non-profit organisations. Participants also add cash donations to their entry fees which also go to selected local charities,” Brown said.
This year proceeds will be split between local organisations Loeriehof Old Age Home, Vermont Old Age Home and Knysna Epilepsy.
Over and above the funds raised through the event, organisers also have a blanket and warm clothing drive.
“Participants bring blankets and warm clothing to keep them warm while they wait for the race to get under way. They then leave these items behind for us to collect and distribute among the needy in Knysna,” he added.
Sponsor Momentum also donates 2 000 blankets as part of the campaign, and last year more than 3 000 blankets were distributed.
“We have stopped measuring the yearly collection of clothing and blankets for the needy in terms of bakkie loads, and now need to refer to the amount of truck loads,” Brown said.
Both events were already six weeks ago.
The forest marathon has not been the only sold-out event on the festival programme.
Festival manager Nicci Rousseau-Schmidt said despite a cold and windy start to the full festival, events still attracted large crowds.
“The new Casper Kids Adventure Run and Phantom Night Forest Trail at Simola had more than 700 entrants between the two,” she said.
Midweek lifestyle events were also well-attended, with the popular Pick n Pay Flavours of Knysna seafood event sold out.
The Oyster Festival Comedy Shuckle was also sold out.
The town’s centre was packed yesterday with locals and visitors awaiting the annual SA Navy parade through the town’s streets.
The SA Navy began its traditional visit to Knysna during the festival on Monday, when one of its minesweepers, the SAS Umhloti, was escorted safely through The Heads by the Knysna NSRI and tied up at the Thesen Jetty.
About 60 vessels went out on the lagoon to await the ship, then followed it to where it docked. About 100 crew members then participated in the annual parade led by the SA Navy marching band before the town’s mayor Georlene Wolmarans yesterday.
Rousseau- Schmidt added that good weather was expected for the last two days of the festival.
“We are looking forward to a busy weekend with the forest marathon, the Pick n Pay Women’s Walk tomorrow and the Knysna Gospel Concert.” – Garden Route Media
The SA Navy is represented at the Knysna Oyster Festival by the SAS Umhloti, which is tied up at the Thesen Jetty. The Umhloti is 48m long, has a top speed of 16 knots, and a range of 2 000 nautical miles.