25 000-strong field to contest three races through iconic township

Images from Jetline Action Photos from 2015

Images from Jetline Action Photos from 2015

It’s all systems go for a bigger and better Old Mutual Soweto Marathon, says race director Danny Blumberg.

Blumberg, who has took over this year as race director, has said the race organisers’ ambition is to have it regarded as Africa’s version of the New York City Marathon.

He has been concentrating on “ticking the boxes” required to deliver an operationally sound event on November 6: “Our aim is to deliver a world-class event and we are working very hard to get there,” said Blumberg.

This year the field for the three events has been expanded from 20 000 to 25 000.

A major change in 2016 sees the race’s start and finish being hosted at FNB Stadium – the stadium fondly known as “the Calabash” – in Nasrec.

Blumberg said there were several reasons behind the decision to use the new venue, foremost among them that “parking is abundant at FNB Stadium, as are additional toilets and other facilities”. He added that “the start and finish area is much bigger and will help accommodate all the activities that are planned for the day”.

For the second year running, Old Mutual has thrown its full green force behind the Soweto Marathon to host another race designed to inspire athletes from all over the world.

The route honours Soweto’s rich history and runners will pass six significant heritage sites on the marathon route. They are:

* Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, the third largest hospital in the world with 3,400 beds and 6,760 staff members;

  • Walter Sisulu Square, the birthplace in 1955 of The Freedom Charter which outlined the vision of a non-racial South Africa based on liberty and civil rights;
  • The Regina Mundi Catholic Church, which became famous for its role in the anti-apartheid struggle and where Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu presided over the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings;
  • 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. They were former South African President Nelson Mandela and Tutu.
  • The Hector Pieterson Memorial, named in honour of the 13-year-old who was one of the first fatal victims of police action during the Soweto Uprising.

A total of 25 000 runners are expected to take part in the three races staged on November 6. The standard marathon (42.2km) will start at 6am, the half marathon (21.1km) at 6.30am and the 10km run at 7am.

For more information visit www.sowetomarathon.com or contact info@sowetomarathon.com or call centre numbers 0619171001 and 0619181002. The call centre operating hours are Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm.

The Soweto Marathon is part of Old Mutual’s strong portfolio of endurance sports sponsorships, called ‘World of Endurance’. It includes the Old Mutual Two Oceans, Old Mutual Om Die Dam, Comrades Marathons and Wildlands series of events. These sponsored events reflect Old Mutual’s focus on long-term goals and the group’s commitment to staying the course, be it in investing or taking part in a marathon.