Running in Madiba’s footsteps

2014-08-13 00:00

IN just a few weeks runners will take to the road to commemorate Madiba at the third annual Mandela Day Marathon that gets under way on August 31.

Race director Johan van Staden is excited by the amount of interest the race has received since its inaugural race two years ago.

“We initially started with a fairly simple race and we kept runners to a bare minimum. I just can’t believe how the race has grown, it usually takes 10 to 15 years for a race to get this much interest,” said Van Staden.

Race entries closed on Monday and 5 768 people have signed up to participate in total across the different race categories. “Our target is to reach 30 000 competitors in total in five years,” said Van Staden.

Considering that this is only the third edition of the marathon, the race director is ecstatic with the amount of interest.

The event has plenty to offer runners, mountain bikers and trail runners. On August 30, the Mandela day Marathon Mountain Bike (MTB) Dash takes place. That includes the 42 km and 21 km competitive races, and a 10 km family race. The MTB race is a welcome addition to the event, as well as the trail run, which has over 500 competitors signed up.

Looking to the main race day on August 31, Van Staden said race entries were “up by 40% from last year”.

The main marathon is a difficult one and has attracted some of the top runners from around the country and top clubs, including Samancor Chrome Marathon Club, Toyota Running Club, Nedbank Running Club, Maxed Elite Running Club and Bluff Meats Running Club.

“The marathon is probably the hardest IAAF rated race in the country, but considering its namesake, it was not meant to be easy,” Van Staden said.

Less seasoned runners can participate in the newly added 21 km route or the 10 km, while VIPs, dignitaries and around 1 200 children will run in the 4,6664 km run on Saturday from Midmar dam to Mandela’s capture site.

“The 21 km race is fairly flat and we are expecting some fast times as some of the top runners in the country will be participating,” said Van Staden.

With over R1 million in prize money for all the different race categories, there will no doubt be some exceptional running. For this reason, Van Staden has been focusing on the spectator’s experience.

“We want people to get down to the finish line venue, there will be big screens set up and people can also watch along the route. The whole experience will be phenomenal.”

The SABC will be providing live coverage on the day.

For more information on the race, visit www.mandelamarathon.com.

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