HOWICK — The popularity of the Mandela Day marathon next weekend is clearly demonstrated by the entry numbers for the three races which make up the road running event.
There are an impressive 14 000 athletes entered for the 42km, 21km and 10km races with the two shorter events attracting the biggest fields at just over 5 000 each, while the standard marathon distance has attracted a entry of 3 500 runners.
It is likely the event could easily have added a couple of thousand more entries, but logistics dictated that entries closed in July, both to ensure numbers were finalised for suppliers as well as to safeguard against overcrowding on the route.
There will not be a repeat winner in the men’s or the women’s races with both last year’s champions, Sintayehu Legese Yinesu and Loice Jebet, not on the entry list, and, unless they are given a wildcard late entry, they will not defend their titles.
However the second-placed woman from 12 months ago, Ethiopian Selam Abere Alebachew, and the third man, Kenyan Mark Oyugu, could be the runners to beat this year.
Included in the just under 3 500 entrants in the 42 kilometre race are 3 000 males. The age spread remarkably has a third of the runners competing in the veteran 40 to 49 age group, while there are 92 runners attempting the standard marathon distance after their 60th birthdays.
The standard marathon has relatively even split between men and women with just less than 2 900 men and almost 2 300 women taking part. The “younger crowd” have opted to run the half marathon with almost 2 000 entrants under 35 years old, including 66 juniors.
Not surprisingly the 5 141 entrants in the 10km make this the biggest event (if only a few more than the 21km) and the women on the road for the shorter event outnumber their male counterparts by almost two to one.
Mandela Day Marathon by the numbers
|100 000||rand for the winning man and woman in the 42km marathon|
|50 000||rand to anybody who breaks the race record|
|10 000||rand for the first South African to finish|
|5 000||rand to the first KZN runner to finish|
|1962||is the year Nelson Mandela gave his final speech as a free man at the Manaye Hall in iMbali, where the 42km race starts|
|167||minutes for Irvette van Zyl’s race record (2:47:15) set in 2014|
|147||minutes for Thobani Chagwe’s race record (2:27:12) set in 2014|
|65||buses and taxis will shuttle runners back to the starts|
|42||kilometres for the marathon and the long MTB race|
|26||water points on the route|
|21||kilometres for the half marathon|
|10||kilometres for the short road run and shorter mountain bike races|
|7||is the number of previous Mandela Day Marathon events|
|6||am is the time the running starts on Sunday for all events|
|6||hours is the time runners have to complete the 42km marathon|
|4||is the number of sports participating in the Mandela Day Marathon festival of sport: Road running, mountain biking, trail running and triathlon|
|3||hours is the time runners have to complete the 21km run|
|3||hotspots where runners can win R8 000, R10 000 and R15 000 bonus prizes|
|2||is the number of days to hold the Mandela Day Marathon sports festival: Saturday and Sunday|
|1,5||km average distance between water points|
|1||There was only one Nelson Mandela|