Elite athletes chasing fast times in Cape Town
All signs point to potential record performances this weekend, as another world-class line-up targets fast times at the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon. For the first time, organisers have signed up pace setters who will lead the field up front, and with the elite athletes negotiating a faster, flatter course, records could fall in the IAAF Silver Label race on Sunday, 18 September.
With international stars expected to join them in the lead group, athletes will be chasing the long-standing fastest times set on SA soil over 42.2km, held by David Tsebe (2:09:50) and Frith van der Merwe (2:27:37).
Says race ambassador Elana Meyer, a former elite athlete and multiple world record holder: "Ensuring we have quality fields which can run fast times is a key part of our goal to achieve IAAF Gold Label status, and we are pleased to again showcase a world-class line-up. By introducing pacers, we are confident of seeing some record performances this weekend. We welcome all athletes in the elite field to the Mother City and we wish them all the best for the challenging contest that lies ahead."
Shadrack Kemboi, who won the race last year in 2:11:41, will spearhead a strong international men's contingent which also includes the likes of fellow sub-2:10 runners Teferi Fekadu Girma and Kaleb Keshebo Basore of Ethiopia, as well as nine-time European cross country champion Sergey Lebid of Ukraine, who set a career best of 2:08:32 in Seoul two years ago.
The local contingent, aiming to earn the first SA win since the race was relaunched in 2014, consists of a mix of rising stars and experienced contenders who will be eager to outclass the foreign onslaught.
The domestic line-up will be carried by Lungile Gongqa, who finished second last year in 2:11:59, and former national champion Benedict Moeng. Eager to establish their places among the continent's elite athletes over the classic distance, some of the country's most promising marathon runners will also turn out, including Lucky Mohale and Xolisa Tyali.
Kenyan Henry Kiplagat and local star Elroy Gelant will perform pace setting duties.
In the women's race, the international field will be spearheaded by Megertu Ifa Geletu of Ethiopia, who clocked 2:29:45 at the Dubai Marathon in January, and Kenyan athlete Jane Kiptoo, who holds a personal best of 2:31:21.
The domestic challenge will be led by veteran Tanith Maxwell, who clocked a career record of 2:32:33 at the Berlin Marathon in 2010, Keneilwe Sesing, who finished sixth last year on debut in 2:43:38, Lebogang Phalula, who will make her first appearance over the 42.2km distance, and former national champion Zintle Xiniwe.
Elite men (international):
- Sergey Lebid, Ukraine - 2:08:32 (marathon), 1:01:51 (half-marathon)
- Teferi Fekadu Girma, Ethiopia - 2:09:34 (marathon)
- Kaleb Keshebo Basore, Ethiopia - 2:09:44 (marathon)
- Sintayehu Legese Yinesu, Ethiopia - 2:11:07 (marathon), 1:02:59 (half-marathon)
- Shadrack Kemboi, Kenya - 2:11:11 (marathon), 1:01:02 (half-marathon)
- Ketema Bekele Negasa, Ethiopia - 2:11:17 (marathon)
- Alex Chesakit, Uganda - 2:13:06 (marathon), 1:01:42 (half-marathon)
- Asefa Mengistu Negewo, Ethiopia - 2:11:16 (marathon), 1:01:36 (half-marathon)
Elite men (SA):
- Benedict Moeng - 2:10:21 PB (marathon), 1:02:23 (half-marathon)
- Lungile Gongqa - 2:11:59 (marathon), 1:03:57 (half-marathon)
- Lucky Mohale - 2:13:35 (marathon), 1:01:08 (half-marathon)
- Xolisa Tyali - 2:16:03 (marathon), 1:01:58 (half-marathon)
Elite women (international):
- Jane Kiptoo, Kenya - 2:31:21 (marathon), 1:09:07 (half-marathon)
- Vicoty Chepkemoi, Kenya - 2:46:56 (marathon), 1:10:09 (half-marathon)
- Megertu Ifa Geletu - 2:29:45 (marathon), 1:11:25 (half-marathon)
Elite women (SA):
- Tanith Maxwell - 2:32:33 (marathon), 1:13:22 (half-marathon)
- Keneilwe Sesing - 2:43:38 (marathon)
- Zintle Xiniwe - 2:41:49 (marathon), 1:11:24 (half-marathon)
- Lebogang Phalula - 1:11:35 PB (half marathon), marathon debut
The 10km Peace Run has also attracted some of the country's fastest road runners, with Olympic marathon runner Sibusiso Nzima spearheading the men's line-up. Diana-Lebo Phalula, who also competed in the Olympic marathon in Rio last month, will turn out as the favourite for the women's title against the likes of Namibian athletes Alina Armas and Helalia Johannes.
Says Yegs Ramiah, Chief Executive of Sanlam Brand: “Sanlam is a proudly Pan African company that does business in over 30 countries on the African continent. For that reason, it made sense together with our partners at ASEM Running to be able to host a race that allows African runners, who usually have to travel the world to compete in IAAF-accredited marathons, to compete with some of the world’s best while running on home soil. The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon continues to go from strength to strength, and the level of runners within the elite field this year is testament to that. It is clear in our partnership that this event has no end to its potential to become one of the premier iconic city marathons in the world, which is why we are delighted to announce our sponsorship extension of a further three years. Our continued partnership with an amazing race team and co-sponsors will allow us to ultimately realise our dream of achieving Gold Label status.”
The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon supports clean competition. Athletes, coaches and supporters can show their support by taking the 'I Play Fair' pledge at www.drugfreesport.co.za
Africa is my home. This is our race - It's Cape Town. Must run it!
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