A new road race launched in Cape Town this week is set to change the country’s athletics landscape.
Top road-running athletes and coaches have called for more options in middle-distance races to follow the example set by the FNB Cape Town 12 OneRun organisers.
The inaugural 12km race carries a total prize purse of R300?000.
The event, which will take place on May 17, has attracted elite middle- and long-distance runners, such as Shanghai International Marathon champion Stephen Mokoka.
Other accomplished athletes who will participate include Elroy Gelant, Mapaseka Makhanya and René Kalmer.
Domestic athletes have been yearning for something new, and renowned endurance coaches Michael Seme and Jean Verster have welcomed the new event on the Mother City’s road-running calendar.
“The short format is not something new in middle-distance running, but the good thing about [OneRun] is it is run on flat tar,” Seme told City Press at the launch of the race in Cape Town earlier this week.
“And the kind of money they pay will come in handy for athletes who are not in the Opex programme – that is if they win on the day,” he added.
The operational excellence programme, or Opex, is administered by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee.
It offers medical, scientific and financial support to high-potential sportsmen and women.
“Longer races are boring, if you think of 10?000m events,” said Verster. “But this one brings together the guys who normally race on the track. It is a fast and flat course and I expect some good times on the day,” he added.
This is the year of the IAAF World Championships and strong contenders plan to use the OneRun race to focus on building speed, as it will be run on a flat course in the city centre.
“It is going to be a good personal experience for me because the race won’t disrupt my training programme,” said Mokoka, who is targeting qualification in the 10?000m at the World Championships in Beijing, China, in August. “Shorter races are also good for the development of athletes.”
Gauteng Marathon champion Makhanya said: “It’s a great idea because these types of races are mostly in other countries.
“It’s a new challenge for me to take on the OneRun as a fun race and it is a must run for everyone.”
OneRun will follow a few weeks after the SA Senior Track and Field Championships in Stellenbosch, Western Cape in April.
The organisers said negotiations were under way to include top international runners and they expected to attract 15?000 entries.
Other key athletics events to watch over the next few months include:
.?The 12th annual JP Morgan Corporate Challenge, which is expecting 13?000 entrants. The 5.6km road race will start and finish at The Wanderers Club in Johannesburg on March 26.
.?The Sasol Marathon on Saturday, when athletes from around the country will converge at the DP de Villiers Stadium in Sasolburg.
The event includes 42km, 21km and 10km races, as well as a 4.9km fun run.
Pre-entries for the first two races closed yesterday but late entries will still be accepted at the stadium on race day from 4.30am.