Cape Town - A cool half a million rand will be on offer for the elite runners of they can win and bank a new record in tomorrow’s Two Oceans Marathon.
Headline sponsor Totalsports have added a 100% to the winners’ prize money as an incentive for the elite athletes to break the long-standing records in the men and women’s ultra distance.
Totalsports head of business Jonathan Steyn made the announcement at the elite press conference yesterday, saying: “We are proud to add this incentive of R250 000. At Totalsports, we believe efforts must be rewarded and we will be holding thumbs that the men’s and women’s records get broken on Sunday.”
For the men, the likes of defending champion Bongmusa Mthembu will have to run faster than 3:03:44 to be half a million rand richer.
That outstanding record was run by Thompson Magawana back in 1988, and few have ever got close to it.
Mthembu wouldn’t say much about the record, but is excited that the Two Oceans is back and is looking forward to “compete at my highest ability”.
While the men’s record has seemed somewhat unreachable over the years, the women’s mark, set in the same year by the great Frith van der Merwe, has been under threat.
In the last edition back in 2019, it survived by a mere 53 seconds as local running’s golden girl Gerda Steyn blitzed to a second successive win.
Steyn said after that brilliant race she was actually not chasing the record, her focus then being on the Comrades Marathon whose up-run mark she smashed into smithereens.
She expressed delight at the added incentive but said her priority is to defend her title first.
“I am aware that I got very close to breaking the record last time around but my focus now is first in defending my title. But if the weather is good on the day, I will go for it.”
With the likes of world 50km record holder Irvette van Zyl and a number of top athletes from Ethiopia in the race, it is likely that Steyn will be pushed hard for the win and probably the record.