The KPMG Running Club – which had distance running stars such as 2015 Comrades Marathon champion Caroline Wöstman and Spar Grand Prix champ Kesa Molotsane – has shut down, the club announced on Monday.
The auditing firm cited the non-renewal of its sponsorship as the reason, just three years after the club was established.
This has also affected the KPMG-Vorentoe Running Academy, which was set up at Voerentoe High School in Johannesburg.
“The decision was taken following a strategic reshape of the business in June this year which included a review of the business’s corporate and social investment portfolio. This was a necessary yet challenging decision by the firm as it navigates a difficult period and continues to position itself in a more sustainable position in South Africa,” read the statement issued by the club.
The elite athletes will still receive their retainers until the end of next month to enable some athletes to participate in upcoming major races this year.
“The flagship club was launched in September 2015 as a CSI initiative to support sports development in South Africa. Focusing on running, over the course of three years the club has worked with over 33 elite and 677 registered athletes across the country.”
Some of the benefits the athletes enjoyed during their association with the club included the covering of race expenses such as entry fees, travel and accommodation.
Contracts with the athletes and the KPMG Club management team ended on 31 August, however the company confirmed it will continue to provide a grace period before it fully withdraws support, the statement said.
KPMG South Africa chief executive Gavin de Lange explained further: “This has been a challenging period for the firm and we have had to make some hard decisions in an attempt to ensure that KPMG is fit for purpose and operating on a sustainable footing.
“We are in direct consultations with the professional athletes and contractors who administer the club to ensure a smooth rollback of our support. KPMG South Africa is proud of what the club has achieved over the years and we hope to revisit a programme like this in the future.”