GAUTENG’s much-anticipated, and one of the biggest ultra-marathons, will be flagged off from Centurion in Pretoria with over 6000 runners hoping to finish wrapped in glory. Of those, just shy of 3000 runners will compete in the gruelling 50 km “up run” from Centurion to the James and Ethel Gray Park in Johannesburg.
Besides the coveted winner’s trophies and bragging rights, both male and female top finishers take home R60 000 apiece besides a host of other prizes for the top 10 men and woman as well as all the age group categories. Total prize money amounts to R300 000.
When it sees its 40th running since the first run in 1903 on 29 September, some of South Africa’s best marathoners will grace the start line. Included in the line-up are Tshifhiwa Mundalamo, Ntobesentu Mfunzi, Mpho Mabuza,Mapaseka Makhanya, Johannes Kekana, Herman Mokgadi, Odwa Tunyiswa, Charles Tjiene, Elroy Geland, Henry Moyo, Leonard Koki, Collen Parura, Sam Munyai,Kudukwasi Kandina, Merid Hamda and Alema Dabessa from Ethiopia.
The 2011 “up run” women`s winner, Lizih Chokore will also be on the start line. The two short distance specialists to contend with in the 21 km format would be David Manja and Joel Mmonne.
Defending champions Tshifhiwa Mundalamo and Johannes Kekana of Bonitas Athletics Club will return to what will be 2013’s last, but largest, race hoping to better their performances and beating their own expectations.
Veteran Kekana, who led the 2013 Comrades Marathon at one point before cramps curtailed his ambitions but not his determination, is hoping to put the pain behind and spiritedly defend his title. If he manages to win, he will be the 4th male athlete in the history of the marathon to do so successfully.
Kekana, who finished 5th at this year’s Comrades Marathon said, “The experience of Comrades should help. While I will be sharing the hunger to cross the finish line with thousands of other hopefuls, I just want to do my best and try to beat my previous time.”
The action over 21 kms is also expected to be scorching when Bonitas Athletics Club’s Mapaseka Makhanya, fresh from her debut victory at the Gauteng Marathon and Elroy Geland, who came first at the recently concluded South African Cross Country Championship race (12 km), let their rubber talk to the road.
Bonitas Athletics Club dominated the 2012 edition of the ultra-marathon,finishing on the top of the podium in both 50 kms as well as 21 kms, with 3 athletes finishing in the top 10 in both formats.
The Bonitas City2City Marathon is one of Gauteng’s most traditional big city races and takes the runners through Centurion, Midrand, Sandton on the way to the finish line in Melrose.
Nick Bester, Bonitas City2City Race Director says, “The race carries the festive spirit and the camaraderie of Heritage Day with as it winds through historical sites and sights of the city. The programme of races – 50 kms, 21 kms and 10 kms – means that everyone is catered for from marathon veterans to novices.”
To further increase the mass appeal of the Bonitas City2City Marathon, the race organisers have extended the deadline to register for the 10 km format to 27 & 28 September. Running fanatics can still register at the 2013 Road
Accident Fund Bonitas City2City Marathon Expo which is being be held at James & Ethel Gray Park, Melrose.
The organisers are expecting a further 1000 runners to run for fun over the 10 km distance.
Dr Bobby Ramasia, Chief Principal Officer, Bonitas Medical Fund says, “We look forward to welcoming the elites as well as the thousands of runners who will be joining us for the first time. We do hope that even after the race, they take the motivation back to their communities to encourage the old and young to partake in this particularly healthy habit”
The Bonitas City2City Marathon is a Comrades Marathon qualifier road race.