CAPE TOWN - The celebrations are over and the dust has started to settle on another outstanding Mother City sporting event in the shape of the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon over the weekend, and already the anticipation is building to ensure an even better event in 2018.
Over 20 000 participants from all over the world took part in the marathon, Cape Town Peace 10km Road Race, the Peace Trail Runs over 22km and 12km and a 5km fun run in perfect conditions - a near miracle considering the gale-force storm which ripped through the City on Friday, resulting in the shut-down of the Look Out-based registration facility.
Almost 8000 completed the marathon with an average finish time of 4 hr 42 min 22 sec, while 6673 competed the 10km race with an average finish time of 1 hr 13 min 59 sec.
The fourth edition of the marathon in its current form was completed under the watchful gaze of several international distance running agencies, including the International Athletics Federation (IAAF) and the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS), both of which expressed enthusiasm for the success of the event.
“We were truly blessed to have had fantastic weather for the fourth successive year,” race ambassador, Elana van Zyl Meyer enthused on Monday. “One of the lessons to take into the future, though, is to be able to deliver an excellent event in whatever conditions might prevail. It is an outdoor event, not a controlled environment, and that is part of the beauty of the marathon.
“And our vision is still to join London, New York, Boston, Chicago, Berlin and Tokyo in the club of world mega-marathons. That may seem a huge challenge, but when you look at the partnerships we have developed, I am confident that we can do so. ”
Race director, Janet Welham was enthusiastic about the weekend’s success. “We have a number of things to celebrate and a few challenges to deal with for the future”, Welham admitted. “The fact that we successfully hosted the first Africa Gold Label Marathon and delivered in each area required is a major cause for celebration.
“Challenges for next year, as the race continues to grow, will be to continue to work with the City towards full road closure during the marathon and we will need to look at the possibility of running the 10km race on the Saturday to limit congestion in the finish area.”
Celebrations were lengthy when Cape Town Marathon’s bid for gold label status was successful, and rightly so. A combination of fast times achieved in last year’s race, organisational excellence and Elana Meyer’s compelling presentation to the IAAF committee proved a winning formula, and gold level status was achieved.
But the award is once-off, and standards have to be maintained in order to secure gold in future years. That includes signing on the requisite number of IAAF gold standard athletes to compete in the event. A new submission will be required to the IAAF by December.
Lest anyone doubt the quality of the Cape Town event in racing terms, it is of interest to compare two southern hemisphere IAAF gold label marathons which took place on the same day this year. The Sydney Marathon started in 2001 and was awarded gold status in 2014. It attracted 3560 runners to the start line this year, with Japanese athlete Shota Hattori winning in 2 hr 15 min 16 sec. The time of the 20th runner home was 2:47:35.
In its first year as a gold label event, the Cape Town Marathon boasted just less than 8000 finishers and a winning time, by Ethiopian Asefa Negewo, of 2:10:01. The time of the 20th runner was 2:27:35. Just saying.