By Riël Hauman
(18-Aug) -- The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon will go forward as an in-person event on October 17, with a limit of 12,000 runners. Plans for the event have seen a major overhaul to ensure the safety of all participants, according to Race Director Renée Jordaan.
PHOTO: Mid-pack runners enjoy the 2019 Sanlam Cape Town Marathon (photo courtesy of the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon)
The marathon was the only race over the 42.195 km distance held in South Africa during the second half of 2020. A unique concept was used: Apart from virtual runs over the marathon, half-marathon, 10 km and 5 km distances, there were also three head-to-head races --with restricted invited fields-- in Cape Town and the inland cities of Potchefstroom (1354m above sea level) and Pretoria (1367m). The three races had 13, 10 and 9 finishers, respectively.
An interesting aspect of the event was that ultramarathon runners came to the fore in the three races. Current Comrades champion Edward Mothibi ran the quickest time of the day when he won in Potchefstroom with a PB of 2:16:47. Bongmusa Mthembu, who won the Comrades in 2017 and 2018 and is the current Two Oceans champion, took the Cape Town leg in 2:17:31, also a PB. Former Comrades winners Ann Ashworth and Charné Bosman won in Potchefstroom (2:46:13) and Pretoria (2:56:18), respectively.
The fastest female time of the day, however, came from Annie Bothma, the former Coastal Carolina University athlete who ran past her home on the Cape Town waterfront on each of the ten laps, crushing the opposition and obliterating the personal best she set in the same race the previous year --her debut over the distance-- by more than eight minutes to win in 2:33:35. Her victory margin was more than 13 minutes.
When the race was last held in its traditional format, in 2019, it had 9555 finishers. This time the field will be limited to 12,000 runners, who will start in staggered seeded groups, with the seeding based on their past race results (not limited to the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon). Runners' finish times will be calculated from mat to mat. The cut-off is 6½ hours, based on the last group of runners starting.
The marathon will again incorporate the South African Marathon Championships, as it did in 2019.
In order to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, all runners and crew will undergo COVID-19 antigen testing in the 72 hours prior to the race. Testing will be compulsory regardless of vaccination status, and free of charge. Runners will be tested at the Cape Town Stadium before entering the Expo space to collect their race numbers. Antigen test results will be available within 15 minutes.