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Cape Town Marathon stays well on track for elite status

SCTM 30 Day Countdown 2

By Mark Etheridge

While many of South Africa’s top athletes will be winding down for the end of the African Games in Brazzaville, Congo on 19 September, the Mother City will be winding itself up for the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon a day later.
Tuesday saw the 30-days-to-go milestone being celebrated on the city’s foreshore and while some of the world’s elite runners will be gunning for gold, the race itself is also chasing the same status.
Last year’s race was afforded IAAF silver label status after meeting a number of strict criteria. This year organisers are hoping to up the ante and turn silver into gold label status.
A number of factors are taken into account for that honour, among them the quality of the field, the speed of the route, the organisational quality, safety and security and television exposure.
Already the event ranks among the top 90 events in the world, given it’s silver label status. Among
Should the event get that elite rage it will be the only Gold Label event on the African contingent.
More names were announced for the race and now includes nine IAAF Gold Label Status athletes with sub 2hr 10min marathon times. Impressive is the fact that two of them, DavidKemboi Kiyeng of Kenya and Ethiopia’s Abrham Girma Bekele, are 2:06 marathoners with respective bests of 2:06:26 and 2:06:48.
Given the flatness of the new route and provided the notoriously fickle Cape Town weather plays ball, it would seem a foregone conclusion that last year’s winning time of 2:10:45 by Kenyan Willy Kibor Koitile will be blown away.
At this stage, fastest SA men’s entrant is Xolisa Tyali with a personal best of 2:16:03, albeit at altitude which translates to a few minutes quicker at the coast.
The international women’s field has yet to be announced but the marathon debut of Diana-Lebo Phalula who has victories on track, cross-country and road to her credit, will be watched with interest. Last year’s race was won by another out-of-town runner, Ethiopian Meseret Mengistu Biru in 2:30:57. Organisers are no doubt hoping for a sub 2:30 victory this year which will also help their Gold Label cause.
A big boost for publicity will be the appearance of Two Oceans/Comrades Marathon double champion Caroline Wöstmann. Although she is still in a recovery phase after her ultra-marathon feats this year, she’ll be a VIP guest at the event, as well as running the Peace Run 10km event.
Race ambassador is none other than Elana Meyer, Olympics 10,000m silver medallist and half-marathoner extraordinaire and a 2:25 marathoner.
‘Last year there were a few 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 Meyer, pictured above. ‘We’ve done away with the steps over Buitengracht Street as a gold label field can’t have steps on the route so we will be building a ramp over that road, with a gradient of 1:10 going up and 1:12 going down.’
‘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 over the years to come could make a notable difference for runners hoping to achieve personal bests.”
Entries for the event close on 5 September and already stand at more than 5,000, with runners from more than 40 countries among their ranks.
Among them will be the special case of Japanese runner Yuki Kawauchi. He’s a full-time government employee but still finds time to run between 10 and 13 marathons a year and boasts a best of 2:08:14.
Last year’s event raised more than R750,000 for charity.
Also worth raising a cheer for is the fact that Meyer will marry long time companion and the father of her two children, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, just days after the marathon.


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