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MiWay Wally Hayward Marathon

A Comrades Marathon Qualifier

MiWay Wally Hayward Marathon: Full media statement:

Dear Runners,

Below is a full statement of the 2024 MiWay Wally Hayward Marathon. I, Francois Jordaan – Race Director, in cooperation with the race organising committee, will address the various aspects of the 2024 event and will touch on all the feedback we received from the runners. The biggest of which is the fact that 1 827 runners were misdirected just before the 2km mark which led to them running approximately 3km extra. I will also touch on the planning phase, the route, the water stations as well as the number of runners we catered for.


The Wally Hayward Marathon Committee

The MiWay Wally Hayward Marathon is hosted by the Alpha Centurion Athletics Club and is organised by the Standing Committee, called The Wally Committee.

The Wally Committee consists of the following portfolios:

  • Race Director

  • Race Manager

  • Route Marshal Manager

  • Water Station Manager

  • Entries Manager

  • Treasurer

  • Parking Manager

  • Social Media Manager

  • Timing Coordinator

  • Start/Finish Coordinator

  • Medals Coordinator

  • Kids Area Coordinator

  • Charities Coordinator

The term of office for the Race Director as well as the Wally Committee is from 1 August to 31 July.

Planning the Wally Hayward Marathon

The committee starts the planning of the Wally as soon as the committee is established, and all positions filled. We have our first meeting in September every year, and by using historical data and the postmortem notes of the previous year’s event, problem areas, as well as positive areas are identified and used as the starting point for the following year’s event.

By having frequent meetings with the title sponsor, external bodies and authorities, all requirements, expectations, and needs are identified. The ‘Blueprint’ of the race is adapted accordingly. All possible obstacles or issues are continuously identified and addressed, and slowly but surely all boxes get ticked.

The correct combinations of ambulance staff are identified and the quantity of crowd barriers, toilets, medals, temp licenses, water sachets, energy drink sachets, cold drink, cups, oranges, potatoes, pointsmen, security officers, signage, droppers, cable ties, tog bag tags, ice blocks are calculated. Outside contractors are contacted and all the necessary goods or services are ordered.

The online entries provider and timekeepers are regularly contacted to make sure nothing slips through the net. The route is regularly inspected, be it by car, club runs or individual training sessions.

The different captains prepare their list of helpers and instruct them in the minutest detail, be it a route marshal, waterpoint helper, entries assistant, parking marshal or a medal distributor. This year we had more than 300 volunteers from our own running club, a local cycling club as well as from Laerskool Wierdapark. Additionally, we had over 300 outside waterpoint helpers.


The safety plan, medical response plan, waste management plan, waterpoint plan, cash management plan, metro police deployment plan, venue evacuation plan, disaster management plan are prepared and included in the JOC file. Feedback about other races is regularly shared and used to improve our race.

The organising committee leaves no stone unturned as it meticulously plans the race. We can plan for everything……except for the human factor.

As mentioned, we use historical data as an input in planning the Wally, one of which is the entries and finishers numbers. Below are the statistics from 2018 to 2024. You will notice that 2020 to 2022 are omitted from the data below, due to it being the Covid years and a slow return to normality. 2018 and 2019 data are included as those were the pre-covid years and years when the Wally was a big event. All indications were that 2024 would be the year that we would see full normality return after the covid years. You will notice that in 2018 and 2019 there are more finishers than entrants, that is because we only recorded the online entries at that time and we did not have systems in place to record late entries, although we planned for it. 

  • 10km

    • 2018: 1179 Entries, 2739 Finishers

    • 2019: 1383 Entries, 2664 Finishers

    • 2023: 2203 Entries, 1888 Finishers

    • 2024: 3000 Entries, 2711 Finishers

  • 21.1km

    • 2018: 2895 Entries, 4027 Finishers

    • 2019: 3268 Entries, 3843 Finishers

    • 2023: 3292 Entries, 2781 Finishers

    • 2024: 4500 Entries, 4056 Finishers

  • 42.2km

    • 2018: 4382 Entries, 3518 Finishers

    • 2019: 4892 Entries, 3854 Finishers

    • 2023: 3328 Entries, 2738 Finishers

    • 2024: 4500 Entries, 3456 Finishers

The online entries opened on the 1st of January 2024 and were capped at:

  • Fun Run – 1 000

  • 10km – 2 000

  • 21km – 3 000

  • 42km – 4 000

During the first few weeks of the online entries being open, we realised that we were at 30% more entries than at the same time as in 2023. This trend continued over the next few weeks. The committee held several meetings, during which it assessed the route, the requirements, the venue capacity, etc. We then decided that we could adapt the numbers to meet the increased demand and adjusted the entry cap as follows:

  • Fun Run – 1 000

  • 10km – 3 000

  • 21km – 4 500

  • 42km – 4 500

Towards the end of February we ordered 13 000 race numbers from FinishTime as well as 8 810 medals, to top up the 4 400 we had in stock. We recalculated the other needs, such as water, Coke, energy drinks, route marshals, Metro Police, etc. These decisions and increased orders were all documented. Admittingly, we did not update the e-flyer and website.

Here are the statistics regarding the online entries for 2024 at various dates, compared to 2023:

  • 2023

    • As of 15 April 2023 – 5 193 online entries

    • As of 20 April 2023 – 7 750 online entries

    • As of 1 May 2023 – 9 980 total entries, including late entries

  • 2024

    • As of 15 April 2024 – 8 886 online entries

    • As of 21 April 2024 – 11 202 online entries

    • As of 1 May 2024 – 13 000 total entries, including late entries

Why did we extend the online entries beyond the initial cut-off date of 15 April 2024? Since the Covid years, we’ve seen a trend whereby runners tend to enter at the last minute, rather than in advance. We were inundated with phone calls and messages from runners requesting more time to enter for the Wally Hayward Marathon. After consultation with our timing partners, FinishTime, who agreed to work overtime to get the data processed, bibs assigned, printing labels, and packing and since we had entries available, we extended the online entry cut-off.

From the 22nd of April 2024 we were again inundated with requests from runners requesting late entries. We again consulted with the various stakeholders and put systems in place to accommodate late entries on the two days leading up to the Wally, since we have not reached the amended entry cap. We communicated the exact number of entries still available on Facebook and on our website. We updated that on the evening of the 29th of April 2024. On the 30th of April 2024, just before 19h00 we sold out all the available entries. Again, we communicated that on Facebook and updated our website. 


So, what went wrong which resulted in the runners being misdirected:

There is not one single person to blame as it was a sequence of events which led to the misdirection of the runners. I will give you a full and open and honest account of what exactly the sequence of events was, which led to 1 827 runners being misdirected.


In our lead-up to the event, “pilots” for the lead vehicles are identified. Route maps are printed, including instructions. The routes are uploaded to various GPS applications such as Garmin Connect, Run/Go, and the GPX files are made available. The pilots practice the route many, many times. The Route Marshals are identified, and placements are done. Instructions are communicated and acknowledgement of the instructions are obtained.

After 8 months of planning and organising, Wednesday 1 May 2024 finally dawned. The organising committee was confident that all boxes were ticked, and all i’s were dotted.

At 06:20 the race director, race manager and the referees from Athletics Gauteng North made the decision to delay the start with 5 minutes to accommodate all athletes to get to their seeding batches before the race started.

The route was manned by 145 marshals with clear instructions and a contingent of 38 Tshwane Metro Police officers that were posted at all the critical intersections along the route. Medical assistance consisted of 3 ambulances and 2 response units along the route, as well as one ambulance at the venue.

A final instruction and alignment meeting was held with the lead bike driver from Tshwane Metro, the lead car drivers, their pilots/navigators from the Wally team, and when the gun went off the 2024 MiWay Wally Hayward Marathon was underway.

The order of the vehicles was:

  • Tshwane Metro Police motorbike.

  • Pilot car, navigated by one of our officials.

  • 21.1km lead car with timing clocks mounted, navigated by one of our officials.

  • 42.2km lead car with timing clocks mounted, navigated by one of our officials.

In theory the 21.1km lead car would be a few minutes in front of the 42.2km lead car, as the 21.1km runners should be faster than the 42.2km contenders. During the first few kilometres the 42.2 km and 21.1 km athletes normally stick together which makes identifying the leaders of the 42.2km and 21.1 km a challenge. The plan was to split the two cars after 3 – 5 km, when the field has spread out somewhat and when it would be possible to identify the leaders of the two packs. 

The runners wore black race bibs, whilst the 21.1km runners wore red bibs, which made it possible to distinguish between the two groups. 

At approximately 2 kilometres the runners were running in Mahonie Street, and then had to turn left into Deodar Street. We had marshals placed at this turn. The Fun Run, which starts at 45 minutes after the 21/42km start, had to continue along Mahonie Street. The Fun Run water station is situated further along Mahonie Street. The lead bike was in front by the time they 21/42km runners had to turn left into Deodar Street and for some reason missed the instruction from our navigator in the pilot car which was following him. Our assessment and investigation lead us to believe that the one contributing factor was because he could see the water station up ahead. The pilot car, as well as the two lead cars with timing clocks mounted, took the correct turn into Deodar Street, and continued as intended. In the heat of the moment, the marshals at the turn were confused about the lead bike continuing straight on and the lead cars turning left and directed the first runners to go straight along Mahonie street following the TMPD motorcycle. Unknowingly the first group of marathon and half marathon runners were directed onto the 5 km route.

The lead vehicles soon realised that the runners were not following them anymore and had to make some quick decisions. One of the lead vehicles turned around and chased down the group of runners who were misdirected, while the other corrected the mistake and made sure that the rest of the field were kept on the correct route.

The chasing lead vehicle overtook the group that was running along the 5km route, and directed them back on the correct route, but by that time the runners had unknowingly done an extra loop of approximately 3 kilometres. The above had a knock-on effect which was hard to recover from. At the point where the runners came back on the correct route, they joined other runners that were going at a much slower pace. The additional runners caused the flow of runners to increase, and they had to weave through the slower athletes to try and get back to the front of the race. Some of the runners had to run on sidewalks, through gravel and other uneven terrain.

The group of runners who were misdirected was large, and included all the race contenders.

With the new seeding batches at the start, the volume of athletes would flow without congestion, were it not for the fact that the fastest runners rejoined the slower ones again later on the route, due to the mistake made in Mahonie Street.

What transpired since the news broke:

As soon as the race manager was informed about the incident, he informed the race director. After all the months of careful planning, human factor caused the worst nightmare of any organising committee. An open communication channel between the two lead cars, the race manager and the race director was established, and updates were available by the minute.

The race director and the rest of the committee immediately took pro-active steps and informed all the relevant stakeholders, including the race referees, the timekeepers, and the title sponsor of the unfortunate incident. As seven of the board members of Athletics Gauteng North were present at the event, the race director could also inform the ASA Chairman of Road Running of the situation. There was no denying that the group of runners that did the extra 3 kilometers, would include runners that wanted to qualify for the Comrades, and others that were trying to improve their seeding for the same event.

Within half an hour a meeting was held between the race director, race manager, timekeepers, and the ASA Chairman of Road Running. During the meeting several options were discussed on how to rectify the situation in a responsible way, by using the data gathered on the route by the timing system.

In the meantime, a media statement was released by the title sponsor informing both the public and runners of the situation and that everything would be done to come up with a solution to the problem. The race director also immediately accepted responsibility in a post on social media.

In cooperation with our timing partners (FinishTime) we did an in-depth analysis on the data. Various scenarios were analysed. We had several timing spots along the route, the 1st one being 7.3km from the start. After careful analysis we determined that the most accurate way to determine how many runners did an extra 3km (approximately) was by looking at runners who ran the first 7.3km, which includes the added 3km, thus making it 10.3km, in an average pace of 90 seconds slower than the rest of the marathon. We were able to determine that 1 827 runners did an additional 3km. That is a combination of 21km and 42km runners. The remainder of the field did the correct route.

The meetings, analysis and possible solutions were continuously investigated and discussed with all the relevant stakeholders. This continued well after the event and into the early hours of the next day. The ASA Road Running Chairperson, Enoch Skosana, continued to work with us to find a possible solution. We also reached out to Stuart Mann aka “The Running Mann” to assist us with our statistical analysis and verified our method to present a time adjustment of the affected runners. We then presented this to the ASA Road Running Chairperson and the Race and Operations Manager of the Comrades, Ann Ashworth, who then involved the Comrades Marathon Association board members, as well as various other stakeholders. 

On the Thursday following the event this continued. By Thursday afternoon, we could confirm that all the relevant stakeholders gave their stamp of approval in terms of our methodology and calculations. The changes were subsequently applied to the affected runners and published on the official results page of FinishTime. The "Adjusted Time" as shown on the results may therefore be used as a Comrades Qualifying time.

Is the method we used full proof? We believe it is as close as it can be. Stuart Mann assisted us to identify 35 runners who would have likely qualified for the Comrades, but who did not meet the criteria for our algorithm. These 35 runners where individually assessed using gps and Strava data and were subsequently adjusted. An additional 9 runners were later identified and were also adjusted after thorough analysis. We are also aware that the method we used cannot account for the psychological impact of knowing you're running an ultra, not a marathon anymore.  


Again, we would like to extend our sincere apology for the huge mistake we made on race day. We would also like to thank you so much for your patience and understanding for Wednesday’s most regrettable situation where we misdirected many runners which resulted in the extra distance.

We as the organising committee take full responsibility.

We are not out of the woods yet and we will continue to work hard to restore the faith you have all in us.

Other issues raised by our runners:

I believe the above addresses the issues regarding the capacity of the roads, the congestion and a few other concerns raised. Many of these were a result of what happened just before the 2km mark.

Regarding the water stations being understaffed, we are aware of two water stations where this problem was experienced. I can assure you that we planned and got confirmation that between 40 and 50 helpers would be at each of these stations. Unfortunately, this did not happen at two water stations. We are still investigating that situation. We did send more helpers to those stations but could not address the issue as well as what we would have liked on race day.

I am aware that we have been accused of being greedy and overselling. You are entitled to your own opinion, but I trust that the facts stated above in terms of our planning and increasing the availability well ahead of time is some sort of assurance that the accusations are not true. When you look at the numbers of entries vs the number of finishers, you will notice that there is a big difference. The reason for this is the now-show factor.

We have made a conscious decision many years ago, that we are still abiding by:  We plan and will be ready for every entrant to show up on race day. We have not sold more entries than what we planned for, and we were stocked for the full 13 000 athletes in terms of supply of water, cold drinks, medals and toilets and all other necessities. 


We fully understand that we caused major problems on race day and again, we take full accountability for that. We do however believe that the way we addressed the issues as well as the communication thereof is some sort of relief to some. We are also fully aware that we were not able to address everyone’s concerns and unhappiness and for that we are truly sorry. After all, we are road runners ourselves.

We already started documenting each issue and concern raised and can give you our assurance that we take all of them very seriously and will address every one of them when we start planning for the 2025 event.

We know it will take time and careful planning for us to restore the high expectations you rightfully have from us. I can assure you that we take this responsibility seriously and that we will do everything within our power to restore the faith in our event.

Yours in running


Francois Jordaan

MiWay Wally Hayward Marathon Race Director

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