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April 12, 2015

iSimangaliso’s call to action!

Run or Walk (21.1km, 10km or 5km) for rhino and other endangered species
On your marks, get set, go! Experience the wonder of this land of miracles.
The annual iSimangaliso St Lucia Half Marathon and Fun Run powered by USM is just around the corner! Taking place on Sunday the 10th May 2015, the event has to be one of the most fun ways to interact with and enjoy a day out in the southern section of the world heritage site. This year, the iSimangaliso ‘Half’ celebrates the lives and contribution of three very special and inspirational people within the iSimangaliso community. The late Herbert Mthembu, iSimangaliso Park Operations Director, who gave forty years to conservation, and Thembi Buthelezi, Conservation Compliance Officer with a decade of service to iSimangaliso, are remembered and appreciated for all that they did towards building a great Park. The event also honours Jabu Msezane, who was lost to us in July last year after serving as barman of 21 years standing in one of iSimangaliso’s oldest facilities – the St Lucia Ski Boat Club. Each of these colleagues, in their respective positions, contributed enormously to engendering goodwill and building the face of iSimangaliso.

“All three of these fallen colleagues were people who built bridges and practiced the ideal of ‘ubuntu’. They were closely involved in the previous iSimangaliso Half Marathon events and we honour their unfailing support as part of the greater iSimangaliso family, in their relationship-building, great spirit of participation and years of work towards making iSimangaliso a wonderful destination for all to enjoy,” said iSimangaliso CEO Andrew Zaloumis. “It is fitting that we remember them in the context of a fun community event with a truly worthwhile purpose. We invite locals and visitors to join us in celebrating their lives and contribution to conservation, and to take a moment to support and show solidarity with their families, colleagues and friends”.
The spectacularly scenic route with lake, estuary, forest and beach vistas is now well-established for runners and walkers along the edges of the pretty tourist town of St Lucia. Taking in the forest-lined streets, Igwalagwala Trail, beach road and estuary shores, the final stretch of the wooden Estuary boardwalk leads entrants straight back to the beautiful grounds of the St Lucia Ski Boat Club to enjoy a drink or meal in the atmospheric setting.
The 21.1km Half Marathon is an official race sanctioned by KZN Athletics. The other distances offer something for everyone, with a Kiddies Race for youngsters and a 5km or 10km (run or walk) for the rest of the family.
As in previous years, there is a strong focus on youth participation and developing an interest in healthy active experiences in a natural environment. The generous sponsorship by Umfolozi Sugar Mills (USM) will allow 108 learners from surrounding schools to enter this year. Local running club Mtubatuba Striders’ chairperson, Simon Mabaso, has been very active in promoting the event to neighbouring communities as well as identifying schools to participate in the development programme.

Over the years, the event has attracted a growing crowd of runners and walkers, decked out in their colourful best and striding out for an excellent cause.

Phiwamandla High School took home the 2014 prize for first school home; however all participating learners were rewarded by trips into the Park and in the estuary boats, an enriching experience supported by iSimangaliso’s Environmental Education Programme. Above from left: Late Park Operations Director Herbert Mthembu and Umfolozi Sugar Mill CEO Adrian Wynne with the winning high school teachers in the 10km run last year. Accepting the award for first and second place is Mr Sithole (Phiwamandla High School) and for the third place winners, Mr Xulu (Ikusasalethu High School).
A great cause
As part of iSimangaliso’s Eco-Series events, 30 percent of the entry fee is contributed directly to the Park’s Rare and Endangered Species Fund, aiding the conservation efforts of species such as rhino, wild dog and oribi in the world heritage site, with the next key project being the purchase and re-introduction of eland.

Funds raised through this and other Eco-Series events are allocated towards conservation activities such as the purchase of collars to enable monitoring of priority rare and endangered species in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
What’s new this year?
Thanks to the numerous offers of sponsorship by St Lucia business owners – including Kauai , Walkabout, Heritage Tours, Shoreline Boat Safaris, Ndiza Lodge, Little Eden Guest House, Wetlands Guest House , Bhangazi Horse Safaris, St Lucia Pick n Save Spar, Ocean Basket, Braza Restaurant, Parkers Cottages and Barraca Restaurant – the prize money for 2015 has trebled! Top spots in the Half Marathon will earn the winners R1700 in each of the male and female categories, whilst those competing in other categories will not be disappointed. And for those who aren’t in the top positions, there are still many chances to win with the usual spot prizes and lucky draws including accommodation, activity and restaurant voucher prizes. One of the main sponsors for this year’s event is the St Lucia Ski Boat Club, and Wetlands Water is back on board providing refreshment stations and hearty support as always.
For the first time, on-line entries are possible and people are encouraged to pre-enter early – with the added incentive of receiving a free event t-shirt for the first 300 paid entries.
Runners and walkers are invited to enjoy a fun family weekend during iSimangaliso’s peaceful out-of-season period – with numerous accommodation establishments in St Lucia offering discounted overnight stays, it makes great sense to come and experience the many activities on offer in this scenic corner of iSimangaliso. Bring your bike and hit the trails or Half Marathon route the day before; take a boat cruise or horse ride; view the amazing bird life or do a game drive on the Eastern or Western Shores; and after a day in nature, braai to the chorus of hippos and frogs.
Race details
• Date: Sunday 10th May 2015
• Venue: St Lucia Ski Boat Club
• Pre-Entry: iSimangaliso website (closes Tues 5th May at 17h00)
• Registration: St Lucia Ski Boat Club Sat 9th May 15h00 – 17h00, and Sun 10th May 06h00 – 07h30
• Cost: Between R20 and R50 per entry, depending on the category

Category: Blog

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