Cape Town - Organisers of the Cape Town Marathon have announced the strongest ever field for a 42km race in South Africa, with more names still to be released.
The organising committee for the relaunched event confirmed on Thursday that five men who had dipped under 2:10:00 and three women who had broken 2:28:00 in their careers would toe the start line on September 21, chasing more than R1.6 million in prize money.
According to executive committee member Ruth Robertson, the course, starting in Somerset Road and finishing at the Green Point Track, was conducive to fast times.
"The elite athletes and sub three-hour athletes will not be running over or under any bridges and will have road closure," she said.
"The route is flat with just one climb."
Kenyan Willy Kibor, who clocked 2:08:32 to finish fifth at the 2012 Vienna Marathon, was the fastest among the initial batch of eight men confirmed in the invited field.
Ethiopian Abeyo Achamo was the fastest among the first four women included in the elite field, having won the Hamburg Marathon two years ago in 2:24:12.
The 12 invited athletes already announced also included three South African athletes - former national champion Coolboy Ngamole, in-form Irvette van Zyl, who set a personal best of 32:20 over 10km in Stellenbosch earlier this month, and vastly experienced road runner Tanith Maxwell.
"We are really excited about Irvette's current form and think it can be a really interesting women's race," said race ambassador Elana Meyer.
Meyer confirmed at least six more athletes would be added to the elite field ahead of the event, which is aiming to become the first road race in Africa to receive IAAF Label status.
Meanwhile, race organisers named three official charity partners - Endurocad, Peace and Sport L’Organisation pour la Paix par le Sport and Western Province Athletics' Kids Athletics Development Programme - while numerous other charities would also be supported by the race.
The three-day festival of road running would include a 10km Peace Run, 22km and 11km trail runs, and a 5 x 4.2km corporate, school and university relay.