JOHANNESBURG - If Elana Meyer talking up the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon as a “special race” sounds like typical public relations from the event’s ambassador, perhaps it is best to listen to the men and women who will be running the continent’s only IAAF Gold Status race.
“Of course the Cape Town Marathon is the best in the country,” says Martin Ngwenya, team manager of the renowned Maxed Elite Team that will be sending four athletes to the race.
“We love it because it is a flat course and that means it makes for fast times. It is also a world championships marathon qualifier. But more than that, we like that fact that running it raises our athletes’ international profiles as they get IAAF ranking from it.”
It is for those reasons that Ngwenya’s charges Khoarahlani Seutlaoli, Jobo Khotoane, Mothimokhulu Hatase and Neheng Khatala have been hard at work preparing for the September 17 race.
Also eagerly anticipating the event is last year’s third placed woman Lebogang Phalula.
“It is one of the best races where we as athletes feel treated like international runners and that’s why I chose to miss out on the world championships to run it.”
For most social runners, the Cape Town Marathon is the perfect Comrades Marathon qualifier due to its fast pace.
The fact that it also attracts a host of international runners bears testimony to the event’s elite status.
Meyer is understandably excited as she counts down to next month.
“This year, the Cape Town Marathon will make history as the first ever IAAF Gold Label marathon on the African continent, so of course we are very happy and proud to be associated with this status,” she beamed. “The event is already sold out, we are expecting 23 000 runners for the marathon and the 10km race.”
Having attracted runners from 67 countries last year, Meyer says they are expecting an even more varied field that will help confirm the IAAF’s high rating of the race.
“About 10 percent of the field is international runners and this gives the race a much more global feel. One of the other special things is that there are total road closures which makes this a very safe event, which will be run in a climate neutral venue.”