Anthea Jacobs, Siyabulela Sokomani, Neal Stacey, Aden Thomas and Zamangoma Matlhare stand in front of Cape Town Stadium. Local runners are gearing up for the Cape Town Marathon taking place on Sunday, September 23. The race is Africa’s only IAAF gold label status marathon. Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - It's Sanlam Cape Town Marathon (SCTM) month and local runners are finalising their training in preparation for Africa’s only gold status International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) marathon, in three weeks’ time.

Whether chasing a specific target or just going for a day of fun on the road, runners said they were ready and equal to the challenge. For some, the race is also an opportunity to raise awareness and funds for a cause.

Carbineers runner Zamangoma Matlhare said she was ready for her fourth SCTM. Matlhare is known for her leg lift pose at the end of each race and will be lacing up with thousands of runners on race day.

She said she had not done much training, but would show up to finish the race under five hours.

“This will be my fourth, I will treat it as a long run,” she said.

Matlhare is one of those who run under the banner #Running4Pads, an initiative aimed at collecting and raising funds for sanitary pads for schoolgirls from underprivileged backgrounds.

Donated pads are distributed to various schools in the province.

“It’s about making a difference in these girls’ lives and raising awareness,” she said.

While Matlhare said she runs because the sport keeps her sane, Heart FM presenter Aden Thomas said he runs for the fun of it. He ran his first Cape Town Marathon after accepting a challenge from SCTM race ambassador Elana van Zyl-Meyer.

“It was a mistake. I was interviewing Elana about the race and she challenged me to a 10km race. I said: ‘That’s for sissies’. Big mistake,” he jested.

Three years later, the running bug has bitten Thomas. Although battling a niggly back, Thomas said he is determined to be at the start on race day.

“I am going for the full allocated time. The aim is to have a jol along the route and to finish the race,” he said.

To mentally prepare, he will be running different sections of the race in short distances between now and race day, he said.

“The great thing is that the route is along familiar landmarks. You know what comes next and that is motivating,” said Thomas.

InTouch Athletic Club veteran runner Anthea Jacobs has a love-hate relationship with the marathon. She will be running her sixth SCTM.

“The race always takes place close to my dad’s birthday, so it has a special place in my heart and I always run it for him,” Jacobs said.

“My first SCTM in 2014 was on my dad’s birthday and I had the privilege to hang my medal around his neck. Little did I know it would be the last time I did that,” she said, adding that her father died the following year. “That year, I ran most of the marathon with tears streaming down my face,” she said.

“This year will be different, I have been struggling with injuries. I am just going out there to have a nice long run and take in the sounds and sights of Cape Town,” Jacobs said.

Weekend Argus