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No BTC Francistown marathon this year

KOKETSO KGOBOGE
2016 BTC Francistown Marathon 10 km runners PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG
FRANCISTOWN: The BTC Francistown marathon will not be held this year due to certain contractual issues, organisers of the event, Fresh Brands have announced.

Fresh Brands director, Ben Tobedza told Mmegi Sport that the marathon’s cancellation is due to unconcluded negotiations with the main sponsor.

“It is with deep regret that we announce that the marathon will not be held this year,” Tobedza said. “Negotiations with the sponsor could not be concluded for the 2017 edition, but we are hopeful the marathon will take place in 2018.

“We would have loved to have the marathon this year as the city (Francistown) celebrate its 120 years jubilee. We sincerely apologise to our enthusiasts for the inconveniences this may cause.”

The BTC sponsored marathon was held for two consecutive years since 2015. The telecommunications company sponsored the marathon for P500,000 each year.

Last year, the marathon was marred by controversies that saw the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) distancing itself from the race, but later somersaulted and recognised the event. Before recognising the marathon, the BAA had warned their affiliates not to get involved in the race. Last year’s edition was hit by a string of postponements and

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consequently registered a low turnout.

In its first year, the marathon registered over 1,500 participants and in 2016, less than 1,000 turned up. This was despite an improved P632,000 sponsorship. Other organisations like the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Letshego Financial Services and Botswana Tourism Organisation had joined BTC as sponsors.

It was widely reported last year that BTC had made P1.5million available for the race for the next three years. Tobedza however said the deal was never signed.

“We don’t have a running contract. The P1.5 million was just an intention, but we never signed.” The marathon organisers have also not lived up to their promise of donating proceeds to charitable organisation in the city. When quizzed about the promise, Tobedza said it was due to delays.

“There were delays after the marathon and we could not reach out to the charity foundations, but the process is ongoing and before the end of the year we will assist the foundations as per our promise.”



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