Cape Town - Elite runners in
the 2016 Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon will once again be taking part with a
large incentive to finish fast.
There’s a R1 million bonus prize for the first
male and first female to break the respective course records.
“The Old Mutual
Two Oceans Marathon is already an impressive race in its own right,” says Karen
Thomas, Head of Brand at Old Mutual, “but we believe adding this record bonus
has really elevated the race to another level.
international runners have been drawn to the race since the bonus was
introduced, plus it’s added an extra element of excitement to the day. At Old
Mutual we like to see perseverance and commitment pay off, so the bonus
incentive is our reward to runners who wow the world with their dedication to
When Old Mutual
first announced the incentive ahead of the 2014 race, it immediately ignited
fresh motivation for those runners who had held out little hope of bettering
the times of Thompson Magawana and Frith van der Merwe, because ‘those were set
on a course with a downhill finish’.
Runners who are
convinced that ‘nothing is impossible’ think the bonus prize can be the
catalyst for a record-breaking finish.
“If you look at
other big marathons like New York or London, people also talked about the
records being difficult, but then as soon as big prize money was offered, the
records fell. There’s no reason that can’t happen at the Two Oceans,” reasons
2005 Two Oceans Half Marathon winner Hendrick Ramaala.
In 1989, the
year Frith van der Merwe set the record, “the car was enough to motivate me”,
she says about the Opel Monza she got to drive away. She thinks the R1 million
bonus is an incredible incentive.
“It's going to attract very good marathon
runners. It will take an athlete with natural speed to break the record.”
Natural speed is
exactly what the then 24-year-old showed during her remarkable run. First, she
broke both the 30-mile and 50km world records on the way to 22nd place overall - beating accomplished men like 1981 winner Johnny Halberstadt to the finish
line. Then she lowered Monica Drogemoller’s record, set the previous year, by
almost 14 minutes after Drogemoller herself had taken eight minutes off the
took a decade for another female runner to break 3:40 and only in 2008 did Van
der Merwe’s record truly look under threat when Russian Olesya Nurgalieva
crossed the finish line in 3:34:53.
As it turns out,
neither Russian Nina Podnebesnova (2014) nor Caroline Wöstmann last year ran
under 3:40 to win, so Van der Merwe’s record may be safe for some time.
When the late
Thompson Magawana set the men’s
record of 3:03:44 in 1988, he actually bettered the record he set the previous
year by almost two minutes. For his efforts, he was awarded a car too - a Volkswagen
The closest any
male runner has come to his mark was in 2005, when Zimbabwean Marco Mambo ran
3:05:39 to win the second of his three titles.
believes Magawana’s time can be bettered, he cautions that 2016 might not be
runners like myself are focusing on qualifying for the marathon at the Olympic
Games, but there may be somebody from overseas who is coming just to try break
Virtual Coach Norrie Williamson recently compiled a pace sheet to illustrate
how fast an athlete would need to run to stand a chance of banking the million.
Williamson expanded his theory on the record: “Truth be told they would need to
be well experienced 2:07 (men) and 2:23 (women) marathoners in order to have
the talent to get close to the record, but would also need to know the course
and where to push or relax. This means they will not be novices to the race.”
We’ll have to
wait for March 26 to see if any of the elite field succeed in clocking a new
time to clinch that waiting R1 million prize.