Strong field and many offerings at Maritzburg City Marathon

2019-02-27 06:01
PHOTO: jonathan burtonA typical scene from The Witness Maritzburg City Marathon, which has its 2019 edition on Sunday.

PHOTO: jonathan burtonA typical scene from The Witness Maritzburg City Marathon, which has its 2019 edition on Sunday.

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ON your mark, get set ... road running and qualifying for the Comrades Marathon will assume the spotlight in Pietermaritzburg this week as thousands of athletes get ready to tackle the 23rd edition of The Witness Maritzburg City Marathon.

Organisers said some 7 000 runners have already entered the popular annual event and another 1 000 are expected to join them on Sunday, once late entries have been dealt with.

This marathon is known to have one of the fastest qualifying routes for the Comrades, and some runners also use it to qualify for the Two Oceans in Cape Town.

In addition to the standard marathon of 42,2 kilometres as the main feature on Sunday, race organiser John Hall says there is a half-marathon and 10 km fun run, as well as a complete “Marathon Weekend” of events.

This includes trail runs and children’s fun races.

Comrades champ Bongmusa Mthembu will be among the front runners, but will only be tackling the race as a training run, as Comrades qualifying is not an issue for him.

To qualify for the 87 km Comrades in June, runners have to finish a standard marathon, such as Sunday’s one, within a time of 4 hours and 50 minutes.

If a runner wants to use the 56 km Two Oceans in April as a qualifier for the Comrades, they have to finish the Cape Town race in a time of 6:45.

But to qualify for the Two Oceans a runner has to run a standard marathon in less than five hours.

This means that runners who wish to use The Witness Maritzburg City Marathon this weekend to qualify for the Comrades and Two Oceans at the same time must set a sub 4:40 target to leave a little room for a mishap on the day.

Said a proud Hall about his organisation’s Marathon Weekend: “Centred at the Golden Horse, there is a full weekend of activity, starting with two trail runs along the banks of the Msunduzi River on Saturday at 7.30am.

“Saturday afternoon sees the MaraFuns take place.

With distances from 4,2 km or 2,1 km down to a 42-metre toddler trot and 21-metre nappy crawl, there is something for everyone.

Sunday will see the culmination of Marathon Weekend with some 8 000 entrants taking to the streets of the city.

“Covering the two-lap marathon, single-lap half marathon or 10km loop, these athletes will be on the roads from 5am to 12 noon.

“The start is in New England Road outside the Golden Horse and the finish inside the precincts.”

Hall added that entries for the various events could still be made at the specially-created race registration desk at Golden Horse Casino from 9 am on Friday onwards.

Thirsti is a co-sponsor of the event.

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