Athletics / 17 September 2019, 07:30am / Stephen Granger
CAPE TOWN – The Cape Town Marathon continues to deliver high-quality events and by-products of which the Mother City can be proud of, and appears to have received top marks from the international officials sent to adjudicate on the merits of Cape Town’s application for platinum status.
“We had two top IAAF officials observing the marathon preparation and the race itself,” said race director, Janet Welham yesterday. “And I think they were very impressed. In fact, I think they were quite surprised at the standards we achieved.
In some areas they confirmed that we were way ahead, including the medical support, drug testing and environmental sustainability. They were also very impressed at the quality and efficiency of our technical briefings, which they joined in the last days before the event.
“Two years ago we were assessed favourably by the IAAF, although they pointed to two areas - road closures and spectator support - which could receive attention. Those aspects both passed with flying colours this year.
We had full road closures in all the significant areas and the support from the spectators, especially at the activity stations in the second half, was certainly up on previous years.”
Welham will complete her report in the next 10 days before going on a holiday. The IAAF are only likely to deliver their verdict on the 2020 platinum races in January next year, but whatever the outcome, Cape Town can be well-proud of its City marathon.
“We presented a platinum-quality event this year,” said Welham. “It was a team effort of mammoth proportions and it showcased just what an African city can achieve.”
Meanwhile, Elroy Gelant took a significant step towards marathon magnificence with an impressive performance in Sunday’s marathon. Gelant had committed to the Cape Town Marathon in order to launch his marathon career, making his debut in 2017 with a solid 2hr 12min 49sec and returning on Sunday to finish fourth in an Olympic qualifying time of 2:10:31.
“I have mixed feelings on my performance,” admitted Gelant. “A sub-2:10 and a podium place would have been great, but I’m really thankful for what I achieved - a massive PB (personal best). Hopefully I will be able to aim for a 2:08 in Europe early next year and gain more experience. There’s work to be done and I struggled in the last kilometres. But it’s manageable and I’m confident of stepping up from here.”
Having won the SA Championship title in convincing fashion on Sunday, Gelant appears certain to line up in the marathon in Tokyo at next year’s Olympics, likely with several other athletes from a number of countries who used the Cape Town Marathon to good effect to boost their careers.
Individual success, such as Gelant’s, is always likely to follow where support and organisational structures are of a high standard and it is little surprise that elite athletes are starting to use the Cape Town Marathon both to achieve performance excellence and as a springboard to international recognition elsewhere.
The Cape Town Marathon has built strong foundations over the past six years and athletes are increasingly reaping rewards, going on to greater heights in subsequent months and years.
Ethiopian, Merceret Biru, used her victory in 2014 as a stepping stone to win the Paris Marathon in 2015. As a result of Asefa Negewu victories in 2016 and 2017, he earned an invitation to the London Marathon, racing to a superb seventh place.
Namibian Helalia Johannes broke the 2:30 barrier in winning last year in Cape Town in 2:29:28, before blitzing to a world-class 2:22:25 win in Japan in March this year. In recent years, the leading results from Cape Town have compared favourably with other gold-label marathons run at similar times, such as Sydney and Singapore, both in top times and depth of performance.
Yesterday’s Sydney Marathon saw new men’s and women’s records set by Kenyan athletes, but their depth was way off that in Cape Town.
Tenth- placed South African Sibusiso Nzima’s 2:13:41 was 14 minutes faster than his counterpart in Sydney - further evidence of the excellence of the Cape Town Marathon.