Reigning Cape Town Marathon champion Asefa Negewu will return to defend his title this year. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix
Bringing back the “gees” to Cape Town in the form of a major Sanlam Cape Town Marathon campaign is set to change the face of the Mother City in the next months.

Africa’s Gold - aka the Cape Town Marathon - celebrated 50 days to go in a party atmosphere at a city hotel yesterday, with a special emphasis on “waking a sleeping giant”: the stay-at-home would-be crowds in Cape Town.

With 42 special activation points, over 50 charities directly affiliated to the event, musicians and artists aplenty and R350 000 in incentive prizes for energetic spectators, Sunday, September 23 is one day in the year not to sleep in.

The Cape Town Marathon has ticked many of the boxes of world-class event criteria, and the glittering line-up of some of the world’s leading marathoners in a fierce battle for line honours will likely catch the headlines.

Race ambassador Elana van Zyl-Meyer said: “International top-flight support for the event grows yearly, and this year we have three Ethiopians, four Kenyans and one representative each from Australia, the UK, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe running alongside South Africa’s top marathon runners Stephen Mokoka, Desmond Mokgobu, Xolisa Tyali, Nolene Conrad and Lebo Phalula.

“As we attract elite athlete support, so ordinary runners are inspired to achieve more than just taking part for sheer pleasure. There’s a growing interest in running for a cause, using the marathon as an opportunity to shine the light on what participants genuinely care about,” said Van Zyl-Meyer.

Race director Janet Welham said: “This is our home, this is our race. Our spectators are just as important as the runners. Their presence keeps runners going and taking that ‘one more step’ towards the finish line when exhausted.

“This year Sanlam has allocated a total of R350 000 to supporters just to show their ‘gees’. Part of that will be for individuals and part to the clubs who best ‘bring the gees’ to the race on the day.”

Thabied Majal, Sanlam emerging markets group executive: corporate affairs and services, said: “We are also pleased to renew our support in funding elite athletes, allowing them to compete, run their personal bests, and create a legacy that will be an inspiration for generations to come.”