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Your Questions Answered: TOM 2020 Cancellation and T-shirts
Your Questions Answered: TOM 2020 Cancellation and T-shirts

1 June 2020

Dear Runners,

2020 is proving to be a year of great sacrifices and losses for our country and also for you, the runners who have suffered many disappointments with news of the cancellation of all major running events for the next few months.
The national lockdown brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic has been one of the most difficult challenges we as an organisation have ever faced. The entire Two Oceans Marathon (TOM) team, including the Board, management and staff share the frustration of runners due to all the restrictions, uncertainty and turmoil.

As we haven’t been in touch with our runners for a while, we felt it important to update you on our current position, clarify some details and also address your questions.

Although it is true that planning for next year’s TOM is already underway, it is by no means simply a case of “moving on” from the cancellation without regard for the loss – financial and otherwise – experienced by the running community.

While we are heartened by the outpouring of support from the running community for having had to make the very difficult decision to cancel this year’s TOM, we are also aware of some lingering concerns.

As we have always tried to make clear, our main priority is the safety and wellbeing of our runners. It’s equally important to us to safeguard the future of the Two Oceans Marathon. We’ve been working hard on measures to ensure financial stability to deliver the Two Oceans Marathon for years to come.

With this letter, we’d like to address the key questions we are being asked – directly and also via social media.


Once again we would wish for runners to understand how much we feel their loss following the cancellation of TOM 2020. As an organisation we too, are in the position of not having being refunded for certain payments made.

Besides event operational expenses that were already paid by TOM in anticipation of staging the 2020 event with only four weeks to go, there have been other major financial outlays. T-shirts, medals and goodie bags were already in the production phase. Contracts had been signed, orders were placed, venues were booked and deposits were made when we could not have foreseen that we would have to cancel.

At the time of cancellation, we stated that we were busy quantifying the impact of our financial losses, and that final decisions such as the potential deferment of race entries could only be made once we are able to ascertain the true extent of our loss.

Although we are at the tail end of the effort to put an accurate figure to our losses, the process is not yet complete. Staging the event is a complex process and in some cases, negotiations for partial refunds to TOM or other “discounts” that could help TOM save funds, have taken a while. We have spent the past number of weeks engaging with our service providers, suppliers and event partners. We expect to conclude matters within the next few weeks.


In our earlier communication, we confirmed that TOM 2020 entrants who had paid for the T-shirts (either as part of their entry fee or as a separate purchase) will still receive their T-shirt. All entrants to the TOM 2020 Ultra or Half Marathon, as well as the Trail Runs, will also receive a complimentary buff.

We’re assessing various distribution options to ensure all runners receive their apparel as promised. A distribution plan for close to 30 000 runners needs careful logistical planning. In light of the current restrictions due to Covid-19, we cannot, at this stage confirm the actual details around distribution dates.

Alert Level 3 commencing on 1 June will give us more options and freedom of movement to arrange for the distribution of T-shirts. We appreciate your patience in this regard.

Many of you have also asked if you will be able to purchase the TOM 2020 T-shirt. Our immediate priority is to ensure the distribution of the race shirts which have been purchased by TOM 2020 entrants. Once this has been finalised, we will have a clear view of the available stock and communicate to runners via our official Two Oceans Marathon platforms.


We are pleased to note there were a number of runners who purchased the TOM book, Celebrating 50 Years of the Two Oceans Marathon, and we confirm that book purchases will be honoured.

Refunds will be made for parking and medal engraving payments. Our aim is to refund these payments by the end of June 2020.


Thanks to our loyal existing sponsors and partners, runner support, investments and tight controls on spending, TOM’s financial future is safe. As a non-profit organisation, we have a mandate to ensure that future races are possible, and not “wiped out” in the face of unforeseen circumstances such as the loss of a sponsor. This conservative approach will also enable TOM to weather the current global pandemic.

Planning a race as big as Two Oceans Marathon, which attracts entrants from as many as 90 countries, requires a massive year-round effort.

Each TOM NPC director elected to serve on the board lends their skills in a voluntary capacity and receives no remuneration. The board is assisted by a small salaried team who ensure that the day-to-day operational, marketing, communications, business and other functions run smoothly throughout the year.

The TOM Board and office team remain committed to growing a sustainable operation based on the principles of ethical business practices and good corporate governance.


Given the current uncertainty regarding government regulations, we can only give a definite answer for 2021 once the financials for 2020 are finalised and once we know that TOM 2021 will indeed go ahead as a normal race. At that stage, we will be able to clarify the proposal to offer preferential entries in 2021. Please note that all TOM 2021 runners would have to meet the qualifying requirements and health questionnaires for TOM 2021.

We understand runners’ frustration that we’ve not been able to revert with certainty on the issue of deferments. In light of the process described above, we ask runners to bear with us until we are able to communicate a final decision.

These decisions will not be straightforward ones to arrive at, given that we do not know what social distancing restrictions will be in place for TOM 2021. This may affect the number of entrants we are able to accommodate.
TOM 2019 relay entrants, whose entries had already been deferred, will have their entries honoured at the next event.

We will strive to keep you updated as best we can.


At this most challenging time in our country, we are inspired by your commitment and dedication to staying healthy and maintaining your running regimes, albeit within the limitations of lockdown restrictions.

On behalf of the Two Oceans Marathon NPC, we thank you for your support and contribution to keeping the spirit of running alive. It will be through our collective efforts that we will get through this challenging time, stronger and more determined to #KeepMoving forward.

Thank you so much from all of us!

Race Director DEBRA BARNES, on behalf of
The Two Oceans Marathon NPC

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