ITS ALL systems go for the annual Old Mutual Soweto Marathon this Sunday.
Over 25 000 runners, including, loafers will brace the beautiful but icy cold morning on Sunday 5 November, as they hit the heritage sites and the popular Vilakazi Street for a 42km route -that has produced two of world’s Noble Award recipients Dr Nelson Mandela and Desmond Emeritus Tutu.
Other Soweto landmarks include Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication in Kliptown, the Regina Mundi Church as well as the June 16 Memorial Acre.
It begins and ends at the ‘Calabash‘FNB Stadium from 4am.
With organisers yet to release the official start list, it is hard to tell just who the potential winners of the Marathon are.
But do expect an avalanche of Ethiopians, such as Sintayehu Legese Yigesu and Selam Abere Alebachu, who have made this marathon a card to international events.
Fitness, culture, heritage, comradery and love for South Africa, these are some of the reasons runners cited for participating in the marathon- be it young or old, big or small, fat or lean.
While for others it was about beating their previous records and making sure they’re on the right track to being fit. This is not about competing against the best. It is about competing against ourselves, said a number of marathon runners.
A runners village will be set up in Soweto to give 600 underprivileged athletes the opportunity to experience the marathon, without the stress of worrying about where to sleep on Saturday, the night before the race.
The village will be hosted at the Morris Isaacson High School.
Sello Khunou, chairman of the Soweto Marathon Trust, said: “Over the years, the Soweto Marathon has attracted many runners from all over the world.
“We have realised that a certain percentage of these runners are unable to pay for accommodation, and many of those runners come from disadvantaged background. So to reduce the burden, the organisers, in conjunction with Old Mutual, will be providing accommodation to be part of the race.”
Comfortable mattresses, meals and transport to and from the village will also form part of the package.
“We are thrilled to play a role in the runners village. Running is a sport that brings all South Africans together, and now more runners will be brought together at this fantastic event,” said Marcel Arnold, Old Mutual marketing executive.”
The significance of the marathon is that tourists also enjoy the ambience that comes with it.