This Sunday, all roads lead to Cape Town for the inaugural Cape Town Marathon which has cemented itself as not only a very fast marathon, but one of the most competitive on the continent of Africa with elite label status and many of Africa’s best descending to the Mother City. This year is no different, and included in the elite lineup is a host of Nedbank running club green dream team athletes.
Leading the charge on the men’s side will be Nedbank running club Ethiopia’s Dagnachew Adere Maru who finished 3rd in last year’s event in 2:11:52. Maru has since bettered that time running 2:10:21 at the Dageu Marathon in April this year. Maru is ready for a fast race and is more prepared for this year’s edition. “Last year I did not do enough long runs, so I have rectified that for this year, and I am aiming to run under 2:10:00 on Sunday,” said Maru from his training base of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. With a 10km PB of 28:54 which was run in the high altitude of Addis, Maru has both the speed and the experience to go even quicker on Sunday. “If the weather is ok and the pacemakers can take us far enough, then we will run a fast time.”
Joining him on the start line will be Nedbank teammates and Comrades Marathon superstars Tete Dijana and Edward Mothibi. Don’t be fooled though into thinking that the ultra-duo cannot mix it up with the speedsters in the marathon. After his first Comrades victory, Dijane recorded a 29:54 10km pb and then en-route to seeing a new 50km world record at the Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km, passed through the standard marathon mark in a shade over 2:12. Mothibi boasts a 2:13 marathon pb run in Cape Town in 2021, and more recently recorded a new 10km PB of 29:52 at the tough and undulating Run Your City Johannesburg 10km.
“The training has gone very well in the camp and the aim is to improve on my 2:13 pb for the race,” said Mothibi from Rustenburg where he trains together with Dijane under the watchful eyes of coach Dave Adams. “Mostly I will stick to the leading bunch for as long as possible and use my strength in the last 10km to keep on pushing.” For Dijane who has now become a household name in South Africa after recording a second consecutive Comrades Marathon victory this year, the Cape Town Marathon could see the tiny but powerful runner have a change of focus in the upcoming years.
“After what I ran at the Nedbank race, I started to believe that maybe I can qualify for the Olympic Games so my aim at Cape Town Marathon is to try and run a qualifying time to go to the Olympic Games,” said Dijane. “I have never run the race before so I am looking forward to it because if I run a very good time here, then the event will open many doors for me to run more international big city marathons.” Dijana will become the 2nd Comrades winner to go on to the Olympic Games if he succeeds in his quest after 2019 Comrades winner Gerda Steyn represented the country at the previous games in Tokyo.
Another one to watch is Nedbank running club Ethiopia’s Gadisa Bekele Gutama. After a 2nd place finish in last year’s tough Soweto Marathon, Gutama has the skill to provide an upset on Sunday and the Soweto result was not a true reflection of his potential. On that day, Gutama broke away early and by halfway already had a commanding lead. It was only in the final 2km that he became to falter and was caught by his Nedbank running club teammate Daba Ifa Debele outside the stadium. South African’s Reuben Mosiane, Sinethemba Tshangase and Sonwabo Tshezi will also toe the line in the elite field.
In the women’s race, the Nedbank running club Ethiopian pairing of Selam Gebre and Emane Seifu Hayile will toe the line looking to run quick. Gebre leads the charge and is in great shape, clocking a 31:53 PB over 10km this year as well as a half marathon personal best of 1:09:23. Speaking from her training base in Addis Ababa, Gebre is confident of a good showing this year, after recently finishing 2nd overall in the Spar Grand Prix series 10km. “I changed my training program from last year because I ran Cape Town last year and was very disappointed with my performance where is topped, so it’s been going really well now and I am excited for Sunday,” said Gebre. “Cape Town is a beautiful city and there are so many people on the route giving us support and I will use this as I aim to run faster than 2:26 on Sunday.”
Hayile returns to South Africa after successfully setting a new 50km world record at the Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km earlier this year. In the race, Hayile crossed through the marathon mark in 2:29 and kept on going so this makes her a definite contender.