JOHANNESBURG – A little bit more of Sea Point and no Paarden Eiland. That is the route for this year’s Sanlam Cape Town Marathon taking place on September 23.
Africa’s only IAAF Gold Label-status race is always striving to be runner-friendly and this slight route change is geared towards exactly that, according to the organisers.
“This year’s Sanlam Cape Town Marathon offers runners a new and stunningly picturesque 42.2km race which begins at one of Cape Town’s biggest tourist attractions, the V&A Waterfront,” organisers said in a statement.
Picturesque it definitely is, the route taking in most of the Mother City’s landmark areas such as Signal Hill, the city centre, Mount Nelson Hotel, National Gallery, St Mary’s Cathedral, Houses of Parliament, City Gardens, Cityn Hall, District Six and the Castle of Good Hope among them.
Many a runner would be pleased to hear of Paarden Eiland’s elimination from the race. Coming as it did deep into the race, that stretch which included the bus lane was pretty taxing and stressingly lonely.
I’d made my way through the first 25 kilometres pretty fast and getting to the Island there were very few runners in front of or behind me.
Approaching the dreaded 33km mark, a pretty strong club mate of mine was already struggling and not even my efforts to urge him on could help as he politely encouraged me to go on with my race and leave him to his.
Talk of being stuck on an island.
Now, the eight kilometres of the Island will be replaced by six kilometres on Sea Point and two kilometres within the southern suburbs.
So, will no Paarden Island make for faster times?
The organisers certainly think so, what with the presence of a South African marathon champion participating locally for the first time in years.
Stephen Mokoka is the main local attraction for this year’s race and with Desmond Mokgobu also in the mix, there’s every reason to expect a winning time of close to two hours and eight minutes, which would be better than last year’s 2.10.01 winning time and a new record.
Mokgobu will be keen to make amends for last year, which saw him pull out as early as the 6km mark with a stomach complaint. He was in the race as one of the pace-makers.
This duo have it in them to bring to an end the east African dominance of this race, although it will be easier said than done given the general quality of international contenders the marathon has previously attracted.
It is yet to be confirmed whether last year’s winner Asefa Mengstu Negewo and his Ethiopian compatriot Ketema Belele Negasa, who was second, and Ethiopian women’s winner Betelhem Moges Cherenet will be competing.
Cherenet, should she be back, will find local lass Nolene Conrad in uncompromising mood. The tiny Capetonian has attained her goal of being a Gold Label athlete and she would love nothing more than to prove she’s worth it in front of her home crowd.