Runners close in on the finish line at FNB Stadium during the 2016 Soweto Marathon. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - Almost half of the water points at this year’s Old Mutual Soweto Marathon will be spread over the final 12 kilometres of the race scheduled for Sunday 5 November.

The lack of water stations has been one of the iconic race’s flaws in the past, but race director Danny Blumberg said they hoped the added points would keep athletes hydrated up to the finish line at FNB Stadium.

“We’ve put in 17 water stations this year, from the 30-kilometre mark to the finish there will be no less than eight,” Blumberg said on a reconnaissance tour of the route on Wednesday.

“The runners better get hydrated because it is quite hot that time of year, so it is going to be a great add-on.”

The race, which runs through South Africa’s largest and most iconic township, has gone from strength to strength since it returned in 2014 after it was cancelled the year before.

The route honours Soweto’s rich history which includes six significant heritage sites - Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Walter Sisulu Square, the Regina Mundi Catholic Church, Morris Isaacson High School, Vilakazi Street and Hector Pieterson Memorial.

The Soweto Marathon will for the second year start and finish at the equally iconic FNB Stadium.

Blumberg said they would take extra precaution to ensure that the runners are safe on the route, which also hosts impatient taxi drivers.

“It is something we need to work on, we would like to have full road closures on the route and I think it will (take) time for us to get there,” Blumberg said.

“We are working closely with the Johannesburg Metro Police Department, Rea Vaya and the taxi associations to makes sure they understand our race and our route.

“There will be partial road closures, some roads will be fully closed as well.”

The race director revealed an athlete’s village will be set up at Morris Isaacson High School, where learners played a central role in the Soweto uprising of 1976.

“Runners who don’t have a place to stay the night before (the race) would be able to sleep over there and the sponsors like Old Mutual will make sure it is very nice for the runners,” Blumberg said.

“So it is the first year we are going to try it out.”

For the first time ever, the race has reached full capacity in all three race categories - 10km, 21km and the 42.2km marathon - which will get under way from the same starting point.

Approximately 10 000 people have entered the marathon, 9 000 in the half marathon and 6 000 for the 10km reaching the 25 000 cap.

The Star

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