A massive prizefund of over R400 000 is expected to attract a strong field of late entries to the inaugural Prince Mangosuthu Ultra Marathon road running event on Sunday.
While the top runners have been cagey about submitting pre-entries, the race organisers are confident the big R100 000 first prize will mean a sprinkling of top runners who will make the journey to the town of Nquthu in Northern Natal for the 52km.
This first-time event, which has been sponsored by the Umzinyathi District Municipality, offers runners a choice of three distances: It caters for the serious ultra-distance runner with a tough 52km that finishes at the Kallies Stadium in Dundee, as well as a 10km for the speedsters and a 5km for the fun runners. Both the shorter events start and finish in Dundee.
The events has an very generous prize fund of well over R400 000 for the 52km, topped by R100 000 each going to the winning man and woman in the 52km race, while second and third will earn R50 000 and R25 000 respectively. Prizes go down to the tenth finisher who will earn R1 000.
The top finishers in the 10km will also be well rewarded with the winner of that event earning R3 000, going down to R1 000 for the fifth-place finisher.
The 52km starts at the Nquthu Stadium and takes athletes on the undulating R68 road to Dundee.
The route for the longer race is not easy, even if the first third of the event is predominantly downhill as runners leave Nquthu and move toward the Buffalo River crossing. After the bridge over the river things get serious and the race winning moves are likely be made during the tough middle section as runners climb out the Buffalo River Valley.
The final third of the 52km is an undulating road into Dundee that is sure to provide a fascinating struggle as the powerful climbers fight to hold any advantage they may have gained on the climbs, while the speedsters try and run down the strongmen on the route into Dundee.
For many of the backmarkers the up-and-down nature of the final kilometres will bring some welcome descents after working hard to get within sight of the finish at Dundee.
The races are co-hosted by the Nquthu and Dundee Development Athletics Clubs.
Manual pre-entries will be taken on Saturday at the V B Ntombela community Hall in Nquthu and the Kallies Stadium in Dundee from 10am and on race day at the start venues. Entry fees are R130 for the 52km, R50 for the 10km and R5 for the 5km. The 52km starts at 5.30am and the 10km at 6am. All participants will receive a free T-shirt.
Race will be timed by FinishTime.