Char­ity or­gan­i­sa­tions will be the big win­ners from forest marathons

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

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

PHOTO: EWALD STANDER

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.

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