It’s fast, it’s flat and it’s got all the ingredients to become one of the world’s top road running destinations.
Monday saw the launching of the FNB Cape Town 12 OneRun and with a total purse of R300 000, pace-makers, hopefully ideal running conditions at that time of the year all make for the possibility that South Africa’s top middle distance athletes will flock to Cape Town on 17 May for this inaugural road running event.
The 12-kilometre route starts at Woodbridge Island in Milnerton, hugs the coast to Cape Town, through the docks up through the Company Gardens and down Long Street before finishing just above the new FNB Portside building in Bree Street.
With an elevation of around 40 metres and a downhill sloping finish, this will be a fast race. Throw in some pacemakers to keep the race honest and Cape Town will be privy to racing at its best.
South Africa’s premier middle-distance coach Jean Verster is excited about the prospect of seeing a fast road race in South Africa. ‘With the lack of middle distance events in South Africa this is a fantastic opportunity for the likes of Stephen Mokoka, Elroy Gelant and Gladwin Mzazi to get fast times and race-sharp for the European season and the World Championships in Beijing in China.’
Verster is also impressed about the fact that a contingent of international athletes will be invited to push the South Africans. ‘We need this kind of competition. Our athletes are starved for it on home soil and it will be something special for the local spectators to see. We are always watching this kind of racing on TV, now it will be on our doorstep. It’s fantastic.
‘It has been a long time since Cape Town and South Africa have seen racing of the highest calibre in the sub-marathon distance. To welcome the best athletes from South Africa and Africa as well as some of the top athletes from around the world, will hopefully inspire and excite the thousands of runners that will take up the challenge in the event. The combination of these world class stars and the mass participation of thousands of runners will hopefully create the excitement and media focus that road running needs in South Africa,’ says Michael Meyer, Managing Director of Stillwater Sports.
The FNB Cape Town 12 OneRun will be open to mass participation with entertainment planned along the route and the finish line.
Elroy Gelant a two-time South African cross-country champion, and the man who has come closest to the South African 5000m record that Shadrack Hoff set, is looking forward to the race.
‘My focus this year is the track and the 5000m at the World Championships, so the FNB Cape Town 12 OneRun is perfect for me to get my European season underway. The distance is good for me and the competition will give me a good hard race.”
‘Running against the Kenyans and other international athletes here on home soil will be very good for me and other local athletes. We need this kind of competition at home and with the home crowd support, we will show them what we can do,’ says Mokoka, two-time Shanghai Marathon champion.
Rene Kalmer, who in her almost 20 years of racing has amassed 40 national titles and represented South Africa on numerous occasions, sees this race as an opportunity to compete against the best, but also give something back to the sport that has been so good to her. ‘I’ve had fantastic support over the year from my country and now to be able to represent them against some of the best in the world at home, is truly an honour.’
Gauteng marathon champion, Mapaseka Makhanya, is also looking forward to the race. ‘We need this. It’s fun racing against the South Africans and we race hard, but this will take our sport to a new level.’
Pictured above are some of SA’s top runners, past and present, Xolile Yawa, centre, and Mapaseka Makhanya (second from right) and Elroy Gelant (far right)