Joburg marathon to attract top athletes

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Johannesburg - The third Joburg Marathon to be held in March is expected to attract a first-class field with the likes of Hendrick Ramaala, Jan van der Merwe and Paul Gorries competing for top honours.

On Sunday, 22 March athletes from across the country will be pounding the streets of Johannesburg, passing some of the city's famous landmarks, reports

The 42km run, starting and ending at the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens in Emmarentia, will wind through several suburbs, including Sophiatown, Auckland Park, the inner city, Turffontein and Nasrec.

On the way, runners will take in such sites as the Mandela Bridge, Constitutional Hill, Turffontein race course and the Apartheid Museum.

Hendrick Ramaala won the New York marathon in 2004 and was a member of the South African gold medal-winning team at the World Half Marathon Championships in 1998 and 1999.

Jan van der Merwe was the South African champion in 2005. He has won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2008, among other awards.

Paul Gorries was the world junior champion over 200 metres in 2000. In 2006, he ran with an injury - and still came fourth in the South African marathon; in the same year he was in the 4x400m silver medal winning team in Melbourne.

Supported by the City of Johannesburg, the Nedbank Johannesburg City Marathon is sponsored by Nedbank and organised by Athletics South Africa (ASA).

The pot is a whopping R449 600, with the male and female winners taking home R60 000 each; second place runners will collect R30 000 each.

As with other major public events, the city will ensure public safety and security by supplying teams of metro police and emergency management services staffers. It was also involved in planning the run's route.

City of Joburg spokesperson, Gaynor Mashamaite, said: "The City has always made sure that the safety of the participants is well organised."

Competition organiser Phiwe Tsholetsane said there would be two shorter races for runners who do not want to do the marathon distance.

"For members of the community who are looking for shorter [runs] there are planned 10km and 5km fun races which start at the same time as the main marathon."

In Johannesburg, entry forms are available at Bedford Runner, Fourways Runner, Randburg Runner, and The Sweatshop in Dunkeld and Fourways. In Pretoria, forms can be obtained from Varsity Sports, Run-a-Way Sport, Running Inn and The Sweatshop in Southdown.

Forms can also be obtained at the ASA offices at 3, 11th Avenue, Houghton Estate or on the Nedbank sponsorships website.

Entries cost R65 for the marathon and R35 for the 10km race. Entries close on 13 March.