As the only standard marathon race in Africa to be awarded IAAF Silver Label status, organisers, partners and stakeholders will again use the annual Spring weekend road running festival to make a difference beyond the world of sport.
A 'must-run' City Marathon
Figures from last year's event offer an indication of its lengthy reach, as race organisers work towards long-term goals in an effort to bridge the gap between the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon and the world's most popular road races:
- Participatory numbers have climbed by over 35% year-on-year.
- Runners represented 51 different countries, with 4.5% of the entrants coming from outside South Africa and over 30% of the entrants coming from outside the Western Cape.
- The IAAF Gold Status elite field in 2015 consisted of 18 elite international athletes from six countries, with another 20 local elite athletes given a rare opportunity to race within a professional elite field on home soil.
- Over R700,000 was raised for charities.
- 4 Spectator Zones were introduced where spectators were able to witness the race.
The success of the event indicates it has the potential to become one of the world's must-run City Marathons, and by doing so it will join other races in making a significant difference to people throughout their respective host cities.
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The potential impact is enormous, as has been revealed by other road races in recent years:
- In 2013, the Gold Coast Airport Marathon in Australia attracted 28 000 participants, generating more than 63 000 visitor nights for the Queensland region, with the local government using the event as part of its commitment to increase annual overnight visitor expenditure to R350 billion by 2020.
- In 2014, organisers of the New York Marathon, a World Marathon Majors race, released a report revealing the event had attracted over one million spectators and runners, generating R6.4 billion for the host city and significantly boosting tourism, tax revenues and the economy.
- Last year, the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend in Canada, a Silver Label event which is also centred around a standard marathon, attracted 49 439 participants, which resulted in R402 million in economic activity for the Province of Ontario.
Having sent a team to observe the organisation of the prestigious London Marathon in April, the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon Executive Committee is aiming to capitalise on this valuable learning experience.
By taking further steps to grow the success and popularity of the event, they hope to increase their contribution to various sectors and the economy.
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Says Sanlam Cape Town Marathon race director Janet Welham: “We learned a great deal from the organisers of the London Marathon, which is one of only six races in the World Marathon Majors series. One of the areas in which the race stood out was the tremendous spectator interest.
"The streets of London were lined with spectators throughout the race, and we hope to attract similar public interest to our event. Charity activation was also a main focal point in London, with runners and organisers raising millions of pounds for worthy causes.
Host cities stand to benefit
"Though we want the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon to develop as a unique African event, we feel we can learn from other successful races around the world as we work to bridge the gap.”
Says Councillor Garreth Bloor, City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee member: "We have already seen, based on reports released by other cities and provinces around the globe, how much of a difference a world-class road running event can make. The City of Cape Town believes its partnership with Western Province Athletics and ASEM Running will go from strength to strength as this event continues to assist in driving the economy and multiple sectors in and around the city."
Global governing athletics body the IAAF, which gave the race international recognition after the 2014 and 2015 editions, also believes host cities stand to benefit from holding major road running events.
On its website, the IAAF states that cities around the world are increasingly looking to host events that fit into their wider plans and strategies. These strategies often focus on economic and/or social development
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Says Sanlam Cape Town Marathon brand ambassador Elana Meyer: "Road running is a mass participation sport, and is accessible to people of all ages, from all walks of life. Since the event was relaunched in 2014 there has been rapid growth in numbers, and this will continue to improve as we refine our approach and make small changes to attract people to the Mother City.
"As the race grows, we also expect an increase in the event's ongoing contribution towards social change, as it is utilised as a driving force for community upliftment."
The weekend festival, held over two days with the marathon race taking centre stage on the Sunday, will again consist of a variety of options for participants:
- Sanlam Cape Town Marathon (42.2km)
- Sanlam Cape Town 10km PEACE Run/Walk
- Sanlam Cape Town 4.2km Fun Run
- Sanlam Cape Town Peace Trail Runs (12km and 22km)
Entries for the 2016 race have opened. For more details, potential participants can visit www.capetownmarathon.com
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