"In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity" said Albert Einstein, and so it is that the silver lining during the last six months is that it has galvanised a small group of trail & mountain running organisers into working together to secure the future for all trail & mountain running events going forward.
The backstory to this can be summarized as follows: The COVID-19 induced disaster management regulations suddenly parked up the entire field of trail & mountain running events behind an improbably brick wall - government. More specifically, the Department of Sport and Recreation, who overnight became the puppetier for the entire South African sporting landscape. Permission for any sport to progress under COVID-19 lockdown would require an application by their respective national sporting federation. The problem was, trail running didn't have a national representation. Worse still, trail running was (well at least on paper) scooped up by Athletics South Africa (ASA) in late 2018 - and ASA had proudly announced they were doing nothing towards getting business going again until early 2021! With the bulk of trail & mountain running events founded and run by commercial operators, this was a situation that was quite simply incomprehensible, let alone survivable.
So what to do? Well fortunately for our sport, a hand full of organisers spotted this need and successfully birthed the 'South African Association of Mountain Endurance Sports' or SAAMES for short. This is zero to hero stuff. Eight months ago there was nothing, now we have a national organisers voice. There is a constitution, a brand, blanket permission from the Minister of Sport and Recreation for any organising member who agrees to the SAAMES guidelines, and a handy app for trail running organisers to join up and log their events.
If you are a trail or mountain running organiser, sign up today and get back to business http://saames.glideapp.io/
It's the silver lining in what has been a catastrophic period for all trail and mountain running organisers in South Africa. We raise a glass to those involved and thank you all for what has been a herculean effort - well done!