Thursday, 10 August 2017, 07:00

This year’s BayPort Phoenix Edition of the Featherbed Trail Run, which took place during the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival, contributed a further R60 000 to the relief efforts following the June fires. Event director Mark Collins of Magnetic South handed over the cheque to Louw Claassens and Michael Simons, representatives of the Knysna Basin Project and Eden Rebuild respectively, the two NGOs that the event assisted.

Collins said he was thrilled to be able to make a contribution on behalf of participating trail runners and the event sponsors BayPort Financial Services. He also said it was appropriate that these resources be used directly in the area traversed by the event. Eden Rebuild is assisting Brenton residents who lost their homes to the fire, while the Knysna Basin Project concerns itself with the conservation of the Knysna estuary and the broader Knysna basin.

Collins said that Magnetic South’s philosophy has always been to consider conservation work as the highest form of philanthropy and, as such, it felt right that the event proceeds should be able to make a contribution to efforts to conserve the estuary, which is part of the very essence of Knysna in every way.

“Conceivably the fires could have very far-reaching effects on the estuary in short and long term. Through research, Knysna Basin Project could help understand these impacts and how to mitigate those effects and other threats to the health of the estuary. Through their conservation and education work we can all be involved in maintaining the well-being of our estuary, which affects all of us in Knysna.”

According to the event director, it was only due to the sponsorship of BayPort Finical Services that the event was able to make this donation. At the prize-giving Bayport COO John White explained that the company’s involvement was to be a part of the stimulation of regrowth essential to the people of Knysna, fiscally but also mentally and spiritually. “Our business is one of enablement and that is why this event, at this time, resonated with us as it aligns with our core business ethos of changing lives.”

Collins also said that rerouting the Featherbed Trail Run for conservation reasons through Brenton had been one of the most profound things he had had to do in his event organising careers. “We have had nine years of the most amazing event memories on the Featherbed Nature Reserve and it was difficult to conceive of not utilising those spectacular trails.

“For many people, trail runners in particular, the Featherbed Trail Run defines the festival,” he said, indicating that affording the vegetation time to recover was the only responsible option.

“It was also extremely painful to see some of those beautiful homes (in Brenton) ruined and hear the residents recount their ordeals.” As such he hopes that the event’s contribution would make at least one of those affected families’ lives in Brenton just a little easier through the work of the Eden Rebuild Project.

Notwithstanding the fires, Collins said that the whole process of rerouting the Featherbed Trail run was an immensely uplifting experience. “Seeing Knysna through the eyes of our visiting trail runners reminded me that we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth despite the effects of the fire. Our participants were blown away by the views.”