Tourism is great for a city in terms of work and income opportunities, but when the city is faced with a crippling drought the inhabitants get worried about these tourists using what water they still have, and about events that draw them to the city. The Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon (TOM), sponsored by adidas, and the Cape Town Cycle Tour (CTCT) are some of these major events that are hosted in Cape Town and draw a lot of attention from other South African areas as well as those further abroad. Organisers have noted the drought and related worries, and have come up with plans for their events.

“As one of the City of Cape Town’s premier events on the calendar, the ongoing severe drought has presented a harsh reality for the event, our stakeholders and participants,” TOM organisers write in a press release. “We are aware of the concerns voiced by worried citizens, and we take saving water – and the event’s overall water impact on the City – incredibly seriously.”


Together with City of Cape Town and its disaster management team, as well as the marathon’s sponsors, they have put together a water management plan:

  • No municipal water will be used for any of the events.
  • There will be no showers at the finish.
  • There will be refill stations available for hydration pack users, but it encourages all runners to be as self-sufficient as possible. Retailers can make the best of the situation by prominently displaying your hydration packs, to make it easier for athletes who don’t yet own any to buy from you.
  • A reduced number of refreshment stations, but still within the range (more than the limit, in fact) of IAAF and ASA water point regulations.

CTCT will eliminate the event’s reliance on municipal drinking water through these steps:

  • The use of grey water and de-salinated water
  • Spring water brought in from outside the City of Cape Town
  • Chemical toilets and hand sanitisers
  • No shower facilities will be provided

In addition to their other plans, CTCT organisers will also explain the severity of the crisis to participants before the event and provide tips on how they can do their part in water saving.

Due to the drought situation, Capetownians are in panic mode and quick to tell everyone not to visit there and use their water, but sadly this thinking is also hurting them and the city in the long run.

“We understand that Capetonians are worried, especially because approximately half of the entry field are from outside of the Cape Town Metropole. However, we are also required to consider the economic boost for the City (over R675-million, together with thousands of jobs being created during this time) and the charities that partner with the event (over R3-million is raised every year),” explain the TOM organisers, who also point out that Cape Town receives tourists throughout the year, not only when events take place.

“The cost of the water strategy will mean that the Cape Town Cycle Tour’s contribution to charity will possibly be slightly less in 2018,” say the organisers. “But we feel strongly that the event must go ahead, as many of these charities rely on this income for their projects, not to mention the significant positive economic impact the Cycle Tour has for the city and the province.”

The 2018 Cape Town Cycle Tour takes place on 11 March with the 2018 Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon on 31 March. At the time of writing, Day Zero (when taps run empty) is predicted to be 12 April.