JOHANNESBURG – As if the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon was not international enough, the organisers of Afica’s only IAAF Gold Label-status marathon are intent on going international having increased representation of non-South Africans this year.
The race takes place on Saturday, September 15 and the expectation is that there will be more than 82 countries represented in the 42.2km event. The race has had a seven percent foreign participation increase year on year and the plan is for an increase of at least 15 percent this year.
The foreign participants who grace the race are not just your run-of-the-mill plodders out to have a good time in the Mother City, although there is a good number of those.
Given its Gold Label status, the event is able to attract top class marathoners, and when it comes to road running, they do not come more top class than the Kenyans, do they?
Last year, race organisers managed to bring to the race no less than four Gold Label status Kenyan runners among the men’s elite and five others with sub 2hr 15min marathon bests. The two pacemakers were also Kenyan and did an incredible job of helping local star Stephen Mokoka to a record winning time of 2:08.31.
Ethiopian, Moroccan and Spanish elite runners were also part of the race which earned its popularity partly due to its relaunch in 2014 happening just after Cape Town had been announced by the New York Times as number one on its ‘52 Places to go’ list.
The women's field also teemed with Gold Label athletes last year, with SA’s very own Nolene Conrad among them.
Again east Africans dominated with two Ethiopians, Kenyans and a runner from Tanzania. Namibia, Australia and Great Britain were also in the mix.
The hope for this year is that there will be a lot more other countries sending their elites to the race.
Race ambassador and former Olympian Elana van Zyl-Meyer explains just why the race is popular. “The route for the marathon, at sea level, is a beautiful and fast course which, as we saw in 2018, increases runners’ chances of breaking records.
"Add this to an eclectic mix of heritage buildings, sea views and mountain vistas, the southern suburbs' tree-lined avenues, coupled with a great vibe, and you have a marathon that’s fast becoming known internationally for its interest and beauty.”
No surprise then, that the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon has garnered numerous accolades.
By last year, the marathon had won the Sports Industry Awards’ 2018 “Mass Participation Event of the Year” and “Event of the Year” by Runners World South Africa, and bronze in the 'Climate Change' category at the Eco-Logic Awards. And for the third year running, the race was given IAAF Gold Label status, cementing its position as Africa’s “must run” city marathon.
“With South Africa and Africa ripe for a world-class, internationally accredited city marathon, and overseas runners wanting the guarantee of internationally accredited organisational excellence, we are able to meet their needs and more,” explained race director Janet Welham.
This year’s race will be officially launched next Wednesday in Sandon.@Tshiliboy