SOWETO – WITH the race set for a part of the country boasting a rich heritage, organisers of the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon believe the competition will become the African version of the world’s most prominent marathons.
The local marathon, popularly known as ‘The People’s Race,’ is set for November 6 and starts and finishes at the historic Soccer City in Nasrec.
“We would like this to be the Boston or New York marathon of South Africa, and having the start and finish at the iconic stadium will most certainly help with this,” says new race director, Danny Blumberg.
The route honours Soweto’s history, with runners passing six world heritage sites on the marathon route.
These are the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital (the third-largest hospital in the world), Walter Sisulu Square (the birthplace of The Freedom Charter outlining the vision of a non-racial South Africa), Regina Mundi Catholic Church (famous for its role in the anti-apartheid struggle), Morris Isaacson High School (where learners played a central role in the Soweto Uprising of 1976) Vilakazi Street (the only street in the world to have had two Nobel Prize winners as residents- Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu) and Hector Pieterson Memorial, named in honour of the teenager who was one of first fatal victims of the police brutality during the Soweto Uprising.
Old Mutual’s Head of Brand, Karen Thomas, is proud of the company’s involvement in the Soweto Marathon.
“The route and surrounding areas are steeped within South African history and the marathon is itself a tribute to that legacy,” she says.
About 25 000 runners are expected to take part in the three races- standard marathon (42,2km) half marathon (21,1km) and the 10km run.
Entries close at midnight on September 5 or once each distance has reached its capacity.
The marathon encourages South Africans to explore Soweto and exposes international runners to one of the most vibrant parts of the country.