It’s Cape Town, must run it

Cape Times - - OPINION -

BIG city marathons have be­come strongly as­so­ci­ated with win­ning cities in the 21st cen­tury. The San­lam Cape Town Marathon has el­e­vated the city to the sta­tus of New York, Lon­don, Tokyo, Ber­lin and Syd­ney, among oth­ers – rated as pros­per­ous by any stan­dards as a me­trop­o­lis and boast­ing world-lead­ing city marathons at­tract­ing tens of thou­sands of par­tic­i­pants, and rais­ing mil­lions of dol­lars for char­i­ties.

Five years ago, Cape Town was in­com­plete. The Two Oceans Marathon at Easter was, and re­mains, a great event, but the 56km ul­tra-marathon lacked the al­lure of com­pet­ing over 42.195km – the stan­dard marathon dis­tance which has been the yard­stick for dis­tance races for more than a cen­tury.

No longer. Recog­nised by the IAAF as a marathon of ex­cel­lence, the Cape Town Marathon was the first event in Africa to be awarded gold la­bel sta­tus, af­ter last year’s ex­cel­lent de­liv­ery and par­tic­i­pa­tion at the high­est level. This year it will very likely step up a fur­ther notch.

That the Cape Town Marathon has em­braced wider agen­das of health and well-be­ing, en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity, peace and sport, run­ning for char­i­ties and the de­vel­op­ment and em­pow­er­ment of all ath­letes, speaks vol­umes. It has be­come a true “peo­ple’s race” – a cel­e­bra­tion of the di­ver­sity of the Rainbow Na­tion.

The im­por­tance of the event is that it gets peo­ple out into the streets, ei­ther as par­tic­i­pants or ac­tive sup­port­ers, rather than re­main­ing on their sofa in front of a tele­vi­sion. A host of top ath­letes from across the con­ti­nent will be tak­ing part, and Graeme Smith, Fran­cois Pien­aar and Zanele Mdo­dana have added fur­ther star power by en­ter­ing the Cap­tain’s Chal­lenge.

A to­tal of 250 000 peo­ple were es­ti­mated to have walked and par­tied along the Fan Walk at the 2010 Fifa World Cup semi-fi­nal. Imag­ine if that many and more could turn out on Sun­day on the streets, at the spec­ta­tor zones and at the fin­ish, in a pow­er­ful state­ment in sup­port of all that is great about our city and its peo­ple.

In the words of the race slo­gan, “Africa is our home, this is our race – it’s Cape Town, must run it!”

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