A South African road race has made history... . Sanlam Cape Town Marathon organisers proudly announced on Tuesday that the event has been awarded IAAF Gold Label Status.
'A first for Africa, and with less than 35 IAAF Gold Label status marathons internationally, this is a huge honour and achievement,' comments race director Janet Welham.
Says Yegs Ramiah, Chief Executive of Sanlam Brand, 'Three years ago, we decided to sponsor the Cape Town Marathon and the growth of the race has been truly remarkable. From achieving IAAF Silver Label Status in year one to Gold Label Status in year three, we are proud to be part of an event that places Cape Town on the global stage alongside cities such as Boston, New York and London. As a diversified financial services player with an extensive footprint into Africa, we take pride in creating an opportunity for African athletes to compete in a Gold Label event on their own continent. We look forward to helping take the marathon to the next level as Africa's major marathon.'
To achieve gold, a host of requirements ranging from the event's attractiveness (history and heritage of the race, city, country and continent); event marketing; athlete line-up (number of participants, elite field, prize money, equality and safety) together with technical issues including official times and results, route measurements, water stations, road closures, medical and doping requirements, amongst other, need to be complied with. A stringent process, requiring a new application each year, 'going for gold' has been one of the marathon's key goals since its relaunch in 2014.
Says Sue Forge, General Manager of WPA, one of the event's key partners, 'Gold Label status is the highest and most stringent standard awarded by the IAAF, the international governing body of running. We are exceptionally proud that this accolade has been bestowed on the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon. It solidifies and elevates this event's status to one of the very best in the world, and is a true testament to the meticulous organisation and passion of the entire team, its partners and sponsors. '
To have achieved IAAF Gold Label Status adds a level of credibility that is unsurpassed, providing a perfect foundation for organisers to shatter even more records across the board this year. 'I have always been inspired and motivated by achieving excellence,' says Elana Meyer, race ambassador.
'Today, I feel privileged and honoured to be an ambassador of the IAAF Gold Label Sanlam Cape Town Marathon. It takes us a step closer to achieving our dream, and I will continue to embrace this event as a platform for change.'
One such example being the Run4Change Legacy Program that aims to support and raise awareness for charities, health and wellness issues, environmental concerns, peace and development. It is open to anyone wanting to pledge their support irrespective of whether they are actively participating in the race, joining the festivities as a spectator or would simply like to make a positive difference.
'This event has become so much more than just a road running race, and we hope to use our international status to drive change and make a difference for all South Africans,' says Welham. In addition to its certified Climate Neutral status, all Sanlam Cape Town Marathon stakeholders are aiming to make it one of the biggest fundraising sporting events in the country, thereby further ensuring its future as a sustainable event.
Organisers are also hoping to increase the number of entries to 25 000 participants across all race distances and disciplines on offer. The event will once again host a 10km Peace Run, 22km and 12km Peace Trail Runs and a Fun Run, in addition to the flagship 42.2km standard marathon. 'National and international growth remains a key objective. In this regard, the aim is to grow international support of the event from 8.5% to 10%, and attract more foreign runners from around the world after 67 countries were represented in the Mother City last year,' says Welham.
Another first has seen organisers launch the exciting Captains Challenge. Race ambassador and former Springbok rugby captain Francois Pienaar has challenged former Proteas cricket skipper Graeme Smith to join him in the 42.2km race this year. And, Smith has accepted together with Zanele Mdodana, former captain of the South African netball team!
The challenge is now open for all participants to challenge other captains across all sports and industries. This initiative expands on the existing campaign for all South Africans to #ChallengeYourself or #ChallengeYourFriend to participate in the event.
By bridging the gap on the world's top marathons, as part of their long-term strategy, the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon will continue to strive for excellence in its effort to retain top-flight IAAF Gold Label status.
Aside from ensuring a better experience for participants, there will again be plenty of focus on spectator engagement at the latest edition of the annual road running festival, with an expected increase in supporter activations along the route.
Says Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille, who formed a key part of today's launch and IAAF Gold Label Status announcement: 'The City of Cape Town is delighted to be host to this key event on our growing and dynamic events calendar. Running is a great symbol of our success in building an inclusive city as the growing sport continues to bring people from all walks of life and all over the city together in their love for running.
'The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon is without a doubt one of the biggest and most anticipated events for runners and the city as a whole. We look forward to yet another successful event and wish all runners good luck with their training and for race day.'
Source: South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee