Runners take to PMB streets this Sunday

2008-03-12 00:00

The boom of the South African Navy saluting gun will set off some 2 000 athletes in the gloom of the Pietermaritzburg pre-dawn on Sunday morning for the 12th running of the annual PostNet Weekend Witness Maritzburg Marathon.

This 21-km and 42-km event was rated among the top three races in the 2007 Runner’s World rankings and the organisers are hoping to stage a race at least equal to that of last year.

The Natal Carbineers have been joined by Orion Athletic Club, who have added their sponsors, expertise and manpower in an effort to entrench this as one of the major city marathons countrywide. The business community, municipality and Sport Department have also thrown their weight behind the race.

The 5 am start will be in Chief Albert Luthuli (Commercial) Road between the old cemeteries. Each lap passes through the city centre on Prince Alfred Street, Jabu Ndlovu (Loop) Street, West, College, Alexandra and Murray roads. The race then turns from the highest point at the corner of Murray and Oribi roads to start the fast second half down Oribi Road, along Ridge and into Hesketh via Fairfield and Blackburrow roads.

After crossing the New England Road bridge across the N3, the athletes will pass the Golden Horse and Collegians Club before turning into Bulwer Street at Merchiston and loop back through the start via Geere Street. The finish is at the Natal Carbineers historic Drill Hall.

Geere Street will be closed from 3 am until 11 am and Chief Albert Luthuli between Payne and Prince Alfred from 3 am until 5.30 am. It is not envisaged that any other roads will be closed, but motorists may be asked to wait on occasion for athletes to pass.

Following on the pilot race last year, wheelchair athletes have been invited to take part officially. Among this year’s entrants is Sister Maseko of Correctional Services in Gauteng. Maseko boasts a very fast PB and is striving to achieve the qualifying standard for the Olympics. The wheelchair athletes will start five minutes earlier than the runners and walkers.

Competitors come from all over KZN, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, the Free State, Eastern Cape, and even visitors from France and Canada. Representing 138 clubs are over 550 women and more than 1 300 men.

Race organisers hope that Pietermaritzburg residents will come out and support the athletes. Slightly cooler weather and cloud cover are forecast for Sunday.

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