Cape Town - With just 30 days to go to one of Africa's most prestigious road races, the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, organisers are gearing up to present a spectacular event when they host the second edition of the relaunched running festival on September 20.
Having made a number of announcements with 60 days to go, the organisers are pleased to reveal further information in relation to this year's event, as they aim to make history by becoming the first race in South Africa to achieve IAAF Gold label status.
A faster, flatter route has already been confirmed, and the course will be discussed in more detail, along with any further changes, in the build-up to the race.
"Last year there were concerns with the route, which made the race a little slower than we had hoped, so this has been one of the main focus points ahead of this year's event," says race ambassador Elana Meyer.
"Having earned Silver Label status at our first attempt, we know we are on the right track, but there are some areas where we know we can improve, and various tweaks to the route could make a notable difference for participants hoping to achieve personal bests."
Meanwhile, after announcing a promising local field and the first few elite international entries at the 60-day countdown event, organisers confirmed the line-up would be further boosted by a number of global stars who would chase the men's and women's course records set last year by Kenyan Willy Kibor Koitile (2:10:45) and Ethiopian Meseret Mengistu Biru (2:30:57).
The men's field will include nine IAAF Gold Label Status athletes who have run under 2:10.00. David Kemboi Kiyeng, who finished third at the 2009 Paris Marathon in 2:06:26, holds the fastest personal best in the race, while three other men have also dipped under 2:08:00.
Elite international men's field:
• David Kemboi Kiyeng, Kenya - 2:06:26 PB
• Abraham Girma Bekele, Ethiopia - 2:06:48 PB
• Peter Lotogor Kamais, Kenya - 2:07:37 PB
• Dereje Debele Tulu, Ethiopia - 2:07:48 PB
• Yuki Kawauchi, Japan - 2:08:14 PB
• Willy Kibor Koitile, Kenya - 2:08:32 PB (defending champion)
• Haile Haja Gemeda, Ethiopia - 2:08:35 PB
• Nicholas Kipngeno Kemboi, Qatar - 2:08:51 PB
• Andualem Belay Shiferaw, Ethiopia 2:09:59 PB
The South African rising stars consist of the following athletes:
• Xolisa Tyali - 2:16:03 PB, Johannesburg, September 2014
• Gladwin Mzazi - 2:17:43 PB, Fukuoka, December 2014
• Africa Mailola – 2:17:58 PB, Cape Town, September 2014
The domestic contingent also includes some of the country's most accomplished athletes, including 43-year-old Hendrick Ramaala (2:06:55 PB), who won the 2004 New York Marathon, and 42-year-old Shadrack Hoff (2:11:51), a former SA record holder over 5 000m on the track, with both men targeting the veterans' title. Shaun Meiklejohn (53), who won the Comrades ultra-marathon in 1995, lines up in the masters' division.
The elite women's line-up also boasts a handful of promising local athletes, with a strong international field still to be revealed.
Already confirmed are:
• Cornelia Joubert - 2:39:07 PB, Mont Choisy, 2013 (former SA marathon champion)
• Zintle Xiniwe - 2:41:48 PB, Cape Town, September 2014 (SA marathon champion)
• Nolene Conrad - 2:54:59 PB, Hannover, April 2014
• Diana-Lebo Phalula - 42.2km debut, one of South Africa's leading road runners
Ultra-distance specialist Caroline Wostmann will also attend the event, as a guest of the organisers, turning out in the Peace Run 10km race. Wostmann, who became only the fourth person to win the Comrades and Two Oceans ultras in the same year earlier this season, was named Athlete of the Year at the annual women's GSport Awards held last week.
The remainder of the elite 10km field will be announced closer to the race.
"The elite field plays a key role in our attempt to gain Gold Label status, as we need to ensure there are at least five Gold Label athletes from five different countries," says Meyer.
"This will not only help us reach our goal but also ensure we provide a platform for world-class times on the African continent.
"In addition, it gives local runners a rare chance to race against some of the best long-distance athletes in the world on home soil."
Entries for the race are continuing to fill up, 30 days ahead of the weekend festival which includes a 42.2km Marathon, 10km Peace Run, Trail Runs and a Fun Run. The success of last year's race has fuelled interest from the public, as part of the #Challengeyourself and #Challengeyourfriend campaigns.
Pre-entries for all race distances close at midnight on Saturday 5th September 2015. Late entries will be accepted for the 10km Peace Run and Fun Run at the Event Expo, but no late entries will be accepted for the Marathon or Trail Runs.
Entries can be submitted in one of two ways:
• Electronic Entries - These can be done directly via the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon website (www.sanlamcapetownmarathon.com
• Manual Entries - Race entry forms are available from the Western Province Athletics Office and Sportsmans Warehouse Stores, or can be downloaded from the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon website.
Finally, three charities will be supported by this year's race:
• Vital Foundation - An initiative of Vital Health Foods, it supports organisations in the fight against women and child abuse
• WPA Kids Athletics Development Programme - Aims to increase participation of youth athletics in the Western Cape, as well as contributing towards development of affiliated clubs and communities
• Endurocad - Aims to become the most proficient distance running and endurance sports academy in Africa, in partnership with the Sports Science Institute of SA and the Stellenbosch Sports Academy
Participants can find out more on the official race website about making a difference by challenging themselves to raise funds for a worthy cause of their choice.
Additionally, in the build-up to the race, organisers are unveiling various spectator zones and activities along the route.
Sanlam will provide four spectator buses at main points along the route where people will be able to follow the course for 15 minute intervals, allowing them to truly experience the marathon and witness key moments during the highly-anticipated race.
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