It’s Cape Town, must run it
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!”