President Cyril Ramaphosa will be one of the distinguished guests who will participate in the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon on Sunday.
At the official launch of the popular marathon on Thursday, the organisers of the race confirmed the president will pound the streets alongside thousands of runners.
The launch, which took place at FNB Stadium, also marked the official opening of the Soweto Marathon Expo, an event that precedes the annual race.
Athletics SA president Aleck Skhosana presided over the ribbon-cutting ceremony and declared the event officially open.
At the launch, Soweto Marathon Trust chairperson Sello Khunou confirmed that almost 32 000 runners had registered for the race, which starts and finishes at the iconic stadium that hosted the 2010 World Cup final.
“The president will grace the Soweto Marathon with his presence on Sunday. He will meet and greet the runners on the day,” said Khunou.
Ramaphosa is an ardent walker and fitness enthusiast whose presence is expected to inspire the attendees.
“Last year, we had 25 000 runners, but we had numerous requests from runners after registration had already closed. We then decided to increase the numbers to accommodate more participants.
“This is a sign of bigger and better things to come. This race is popular,” said Khunou.
He also announced that the expo, which will run for three days, will operate until 7pm.
“This will ensure that the runners will have sufficient time to collect their race packs.”
Skhosana also said the race’s popularity was because “the runners don’t just love this race, they own it, that’s why it is known as the People’s Race”.
The race offers three distances – 42km, 21km and 10km.
Last year’s 42km champions, Tshepo Mathibelle of Lesotho and South African Irvette van Zyl, will be back to defend their titles.
This year will mark the 25th edition of the popular kasi marathon.
The prize money is the same for men and women – R250 000 goes to the winners of the 42km race, R10 000 goes to the winners of the 21km and the winners of the 10km race will get R5 000.