By Mark Etheridge
Organisers of Athletics South Africa’s upcoming Yellow Pages Summer Series track and field meetings have targeted the men’s mile as the event to showcase. But it seems not all the country’s top milers are targeting it themselves.
A R5000 first prize has been dangled as a financial carrot to the first athlete to dip under the magical four-minute barrier and every other athlete achieving the same mark during the four-meeting series gets a R1000 reward as well.
The last man to run a sub four-minute mile on South African soil was Johan Cronje, who ran 3min 58sec in Parow five years ago. Parow will be the venue for the last of the four meetings.
The series starts at Coetzenburg, Stellenbosch on Friday night and then visits Port Elizabeth and Oudtshoorn before returning to Parow.
Cronje, who hailed the mile incentive during the series as a great idea, is still battling with injury and looks unlikely to risk aggravating it in the gruelling mile event. “I can’t believe this injury can be so irritating. I really didn’t expect it to keep me off my feet for so long. I’m dumbstruck!! Haven’t run in over five weeks now and still not better. The Summer Series will definitely not happen for me.
National 3000m recordholder and 2008 Beijing Olympian, Juan van Deventer has opted to miss the December series with his eye further down the road. “I’m not going to run any of the Yellow Pages races in December. We’re using this time to get in some solid training for next year and the only racing I’ll be doing are a few road races.”