Cape Town aims for place on world marathon map

Sunday Times


IF you awoke on Sunday morning to the pitter patter of thousands of padded feet, bad luck.

That means you live on the Cape Town Marathon route. And that means your street was partly or fully closed, or affected by what the organisers call “temporary delays”.

Until when? Anywhere from 7.50am to 1.50pm.

How many streets? Sixty-seven, counting more than once those listed for multiple interventions.

Where are these streets? Everywhere from Green Point to Sea Point, to the city centre, the harbour and Paarden Island, and suburbs including Woodstock and Claremont.

And all in the cause of 8 000 runners making it from the start to finish points, which are both in Green Point.

Not that moaning about not being able to use your car to go buy the paper is what the race is about, even for those too lazy to run it or its shorter versions: the 4.2km fun run, 10km run or walk, or the 12km or 22km trail runs.

What the 42.2km main event is about is putting Cape Town, an ambitious, aspirant world city as well as a beautiful, runnable city, on the world marathon map.

An important step towards that happening is the International Amateur Athletics Federation awarding the race a gold label. It has hovered at silver since 2014.

“If you look at the estimated 10-million marathon runners in the world they choose one or two marathons to run and they go from city to city to do so,” race director Janet Welham said.

“We want people to have to decide whether they’re running Berlin or Cape Town. We’re not there yet but that’s where we want to be.”

But Cape Town is not trying to race against those twin peaks of South African road running, the Two Oceans and the Comrades ultra-marathons.

“We believe that (the Cape Town Marathon) is not necessarily encroaching on that territory but is adding value to running in South Africa,” Welham said.

“There’s definitely space for all of them. They’re not competing against each other but certainly we’ve got a chockablock, sold out event.”

In money terms, Comrades wins with its R400 000 prize for the men’s and women’s winners.

Cape Town’s champions will each earn R265 000, while winning the Two Oceans will bring you R250 000.

Not that the kind of runners who trawl the Sea Point Promenade went for that kind of gold on Sunday. For them, it’s about celebrating their city.

“(The field) was supposed to be 7 000,” Welham said. “We extended it to 7 500 and then we closed it at 8 000 because of T-shirts and medals and safety protocols in particular.”

So although 1 000 more people than planned are traipsing past your door today, be thankful that you don’t have to put up with 11 000 or 18 000 who started the Two Oceans and the Comrades this year.

And, if you read this on Sunday and you live on the marathon route, well done for taking a walk to the shops.


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