I had the opportunity ask James Evans, President of Athletics South Africa, and Race Director for the Cape Town Marathon, some questions on the Marathon which takes place in Cape Town over the coming weekend. Unfortunately this year I am in the middle of training for other races but I will make an attempt to run this in the next few years as the race tries to up its status internationally. The aim is to be one of the key marathon races in the world. You cannot deny that we have the area to host it in, so I asked James some key questions around this topic. Enjoy.
Why the Cape Town Marathon and why should people care?
The Marathon was one of the original modern Olympic events in London in 1896 although the distance was only fixed in 1921. It is regarded internationally as the ultimate athletics challenge that brings elite and recreational runners together to compete. South Africa has a history of success at Olympic marathon running. We’ve had two Olympic marathon winners – Josiah Thugwane in 1996 and Ken MacArthur in 1912. With a legacy of success in marathon running South Africa should have a Marathon on the global race calendar. And with Cape Town being a world icon it seems like an obvious choice as a city to attract the world to run in South Africa.
Who is being targeted for the marathon beyond 2 Oceans Runners?
We want to attract elite marathon runners, club runners, athletes who compete in other sports codes such as cyclists and multi-sport athletes, recreational runners and first-time marathon runners. This race is as much about trying to achieve record times as it is about promoting health and fitness and encouraging people to start running.
I keep hearing that there are dreams to turn this into a Boston or a London. What is the layout to achieve this and what, in your mind, would be the critical factors to achieve before you considered this race a Pillar in the international Marathon market?
We need 1) funding 2) an elite field 3) create an international profile 4) increase entry numbers.
Tell me about the aid stations – what is available for the athletes at these stations in terms of food, drink and entertainment?
There will be aid stations every 2.5km. They will offer Coke and water but no food. Many will be manned by Athletics Club volunteers.
What are the iconic areas that the race passes through, for international interest?
Iconic sites on the race route include:
- The Adderley Street and the Cape Town Station.
- Table Mountain can be seen from different perspectives throughout the race.
- The Castle of Good Hope – the oldest building in South Africa was built by Jan van Riebeeck and the Dutch East India Company and was completed in 1679.
- Groote Schuur Hospital – site of the world’s first human heart transplant.
- The University of Cape Town is South Africa’s oldest university.
- The Rondebosch Common, declared a National Monument in 1961, was used as a military encampment and in 1855 it became open for public use when the rector of St Paul’s Church was given permission to gaze his cows on the land.
- The globally respected Red Cross Children’s Hospital.
- The South African Astronomical Observatory, which grew from the Royal Observatory at the Cape of Good Hope, was founded in 1820.
- The Salt River Market is the oldest market in Cape Town, where traders sell fresh produce daily.
- The V&A Waterfront is South Africa’s most visited destination – the combination of shops, restaurants, nightspots, tourist attractions and museums in the city’s historic harbour attract millions of visitors annually. Harbour construction began in 1860, when Prince Alfred tipped the first stones for the breakwater.
- The Green Point Lighthouse is South Africa’s oldest dating back to 1824.
- The new Cape Town Stadium which hosted eight matches during the 2010 FIFA World Cup including the semi-final between the Netherlands and Uruguay.
- The Green Point Urban Park which hosts the finish to the race is a new multipurpose 10.5 hectare “people’s recreation park” and has a fitness park with cycling, outdoor training and gym facilities which are available to visitors.
Locals know so much, for but international tourists who you want, what will draw them to the race?
Sea, mountain and the Capetonian lifestyle.
Which professional athletes are running? Any internationally acclaimed runners?
Gert Thys the current record holder will be back to defend his title. There are two Kenyan runners John Birgen and Augustine Maindi who have both run close to 2:10 internationally.
Lusapo April, the 2011 Two Ocean’s Half Marathon winner will run the 10km race.
In your opinion, what would a complete world class field be able to run this course in, given the right conditions?