Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Blog Roll - Stephen Muzhingi

Why Southern Africa Runners Can’t Run Sub 2H10

Running in Southern Africa is for one thing pretty hard especially with the weather conditions, but from a financial side it is extremely difficult to be a full time professional athlete.
For one thing races here do not pay appearance fees for the Elite Athletes, and we have to run for prize money. This in itself is not great either, as there are pretty much four races the whole year that pay anything substantial, such as Comrades (89km- ZAR250 000), Two Oceans (56km – ZAR250 000), City to City (50km – ZAR50 000), Soweto Marathon (42.2km). But this is the winners prize money, and only top 10 get paid and this drops drastically down to R10 000 for Comrades and Oceans for 10th place. Other than these races average prize money for a marathon is less than ZAR 2 000, and for the shorter distances even less. The shorter races also pretty much only pay the top 3.Running is seen as an amateur sport and does not receive the TV coverage or media coverage as Soccer, Rugby, and Cricket does. So therefore not much attraction for sponsors of the athletes.
Yes some of the Elites are lucky enough to have monthly retainers paid to them by clubs, such as Mr.Price, Nedbank, Formula 1, Bonitas. Although the clubs pay retainers these cannot be compared to salaries of other sports codes, and the elite athletes have to race for little prize money to just survive. Basically if you don’t run an Ultra, such as Comrades or Two Oceans, and come within the top 3 at these races then you seriously will struggle financially. But you can understand that without the exposure from TV for races, the clubs are pretty much paying monthly (small) salaries to the elites for 2 races a year, without much exposure or return for them.