Marathon boom hits City of Choice ahead of Comrades qualifier

2011-02-11 00:00

THE South African marathon boom is set to hit the City of Choice when entries for the Witness Maritzburg Marathon, powered by Honeydew and DUT, close at midnight tonight.

There has been a noticeable increase in lifestyle running and road running in recent months and it has shown in major events throughout the country.

After finalising all postal and online entries, the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon has attracted a record field of over 14 000 entries for the half-marathon on Saturday, April 23.

The previous record was 13 221 in 2009, before entries had to be limited and prior to some minor but important changes for the safety of the race. The race had initially announced a limit of 11 500 runners for the half-marathon, then added 2 000 more places, but by the final count even this had been exceeded.

“The response to this race has been incredible and our office is inundated with calls from people looking for 21 km entries. We had to allow for additional entries to accommodate the demand and did so in consultation with the City of Cape Town,” said Rowyn James, race director. The organisers are now arranging additional medical, transportation and parking facilities.

It was a similar situation with Comrades at the end of last year, when their initial 18 000 limit was exceeded by around 1 500 entries, and the Witness Maritzburg Marathon looks set to maintain the trend when online entries close tonight.

The Maritzburg event is totally pre-entry and has already broken the 3 000 mark for the half- and full marathon distances.

“This is the most popular Comrades qualifier in the country and we are in line for a record field when we add up all the race distances,” said John Hall of host club Natal Carbineers. Runners who have yet to enter may only use until midnight tonight to secure a place on the start line

This is arguably the fastest qualifying course in the province this year and has attracted runners from throughout the country and internationally. It also counts as a qualifier for the Two Oceans 56 km marathon, whose entries close on March 16.

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