Despite the challenges posed by the worst natural disaster in the history of the Garden Route, organisers of the Featherbed Trail Run have announced that, thanks to the timely intervention of new headline sponsors, Bayport Financial Services, the Featherbed Trail Run of the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival will go ahead as scheduled. “We’re calling it the Bayport Phoenix Edition,” says event director Mark Collins, “and it will be simply unforgettable.”
With 100% of the well-known Featherbed Trail Run routes affected by the fires, safety and environmental concerns forced the event hosts and organisers, the Featherbed Company and Magnetic South respectively, to abandon the original event course and format. “We always intended to do something really special for the tenth edition of the Featherbed Trail Run,” says Collins. Obviously we could never imagine these circumstances, but this new concept honours the amazing fighting spirit that currently burns stronger than any fire in our town. It is going to be special. Possibly the most incredible event we have ever put on, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world”.
Collins is appealing to trail runners from across South Africa and the world to come and support the Oyster Festival. “Knysna got burned. No one in our town is unaffected by the fires,” he says.
Fortunately, loss is not the only reality. The financial and logistical support for victims has been “nothing short of phenomenal”.
In this same generous spirit, Bayport Financial Services has come forward to ensure that one of the most beloved events of the Oyster Festival goes ahead. Moreover, Bayport’s involvement will ensure that 25% of the entry fees goes to alleviate the suffering of those directly affected by the fires.
Stuart Stone, Chief Executive Officer at Bayport, says that the company was both devastated by the tragedy but at the same time inspired by the care and compassion South Africans showed their fellow citizens affected by the fire. “We have witnessed a national relief effort from all sectors of society and in that spirit we at Bayport feel compelled to support the run and ensure that Knysna and surrounding towns benefit from a successful Oyster Festival that no doubt is an important contributor to the local economy.”
Collins says that what the community needs most now is to feel normal again. “That is why we are going ahead with this event. We need to see our restaurants and pubs overflowing with festival goers as they always do. We have taken a huge knock but the rebuilding has already started. As much as we are still in shock there is an undercurrent of excitement as new plans, ideas and beginnings beckon.”
The route will change, the timing will change, the logistics will change; but that unique Knysna-feeling the trail run is famous for, will be stronger than ever.
The exact timings and logistics will be made public in the next few days. For more information and entries go to www.trailtown.net