Madibaz forest run

With a new name and sponsor, the George Madibaz Forest Run is shaping up to become a premium event on the Garden Route road running calendar.

Previously known as the George Madibaz Half Marathon, the annual race has rebranded to emphasise its idyllic terrain and unique woodland character.

Its profile has also been raised through a partnership with Discovery Vitality and now forms part of the national Vitality Run Series, which aims to help people improve their health through physical activity.

George Campus Sport manager Siphesihle Jobo hoped to grow the event – scheduled for Saturday, September 9, this year – to more than a thousand participants in the future.

He said the region’s leading runners had supported it over the years and, due to its newfound status, expected bigger buy-in from other regions this time around.

“It would be great to get more competitive runners involved. We’d love to see people making the trip down to the Garden Route,” he said.

Last year’s half marathon title went to multiple SPAR Knysna Forest Marathon champion Lloyd Bosman, who pipped Nedbank SWD teammate Selwyn Matthews to the post in 1:10:47.

Closer to home, the objective is to entice more of the university’s students and staff to enter.

Madibaz forest run

The George Madibaz Forest Run is expected to draw runners of all ages and skill levels on Saturday September 9. Photo: Supplied

“After Covid things have been slow,” Jobo explained.

“The students haven’t been as vibrant. We want to get them involved as participants and volunteers.”

When you have a winning formula, you do not tinker with it and therefore the half marathon route remains unchanged.

Starting and finishing at the rugby stadium on the George campus, it takes runners along gravel roads and trails through the forest, veering onto the tar for only a small stretch.

The 2023 version does however boast a new addition – a 10km – to go with the traditional 5km and 21.1km options.

The collaboration with Vitality also means increased prize-money across all categories.

Off the course, the spoils include a food court, coffee kiosks and activations. There will be social zones for those simply wanting to soak up the atmosphere.

Jobo encouraged the local community to come out in numbers as it promised to be a top day out. He suggested that those who were not avid runners but enjoyed the outdoors try their hand at the 5km.

Participants will be under starter’s orders from 8am.

Enter on or at Top Gear Sport in George until 12pm on Wednesday, September 6. Late entries will not be accepted.