Staggered Starts, Water Point Changes and Pre-Race Covid Tests for Cape Town Marathon

Extensive plans announced to ensure safety at SA's most prestigious marathon


The 2021 Sanlam Cape Town Marathon will go ahead on October 17 but with changes to the start and water points and mandatory Covid tests for all runners.

Organisers announced the new protocols on Thursday after months of consulation with government departments to ensure that the event would be run safely and limit the risk of spreading the Covid-19 virus.

The 42.2km event will be limited to 10 000 runners, in line with government approvals, while a number of changes to the start procedure and water points have been made. Both the 10 and 5km events will not be run live but runners have the option of running a 5, 10 and 21.1km virtually.

The 2021 protocols include:

  • A staggered race start at a bigger new start venue next to the Cape Town stadium. Runners will be let off in groups of 300 starting with the elites at 6.15 and the final group at 6.50.

  • Race times will be taken mat-to-mat. In other words runners will only be timed from the moment they cross the start mat and finish mats.

  • Runners will be handed refreshments and products at water tables by volunteers and will not be able to take themselves. All volunteers will be wearing PPE kit including masks.

  • All runners will be required to undergo a Rapid Antigen Covid test which will be done at the race expo. Runners will be advised when they will be able to go for their tests and tests will be paid for by race organisers. Runners will need a negative Covid test to enter the Expo and get their race packs.

  • Club tents and hospitality will not be permitted to ensure that runners leave the finish precinct as soon as possible after the race.

  • No spectators will be allowed on the route.

“It has taken us months to ensure that we have a responsible Covid risk mitigation plan,” Race Director, Renee Jordaan said. “We have had to present to everyone from the ministry of health and sport to the National Covid Command Council.”

Elite Race

Race organisers confirmed that a full elite race will take place and will include former winner and top-ranked South African marathoner Stephen Mokoka and multiple Comrades champion and Olympian Gerda Steyn. It will be the first marathon that Steyn will run in South Africa and with a PB of 2:25 she will line up as a firm favourite.

Top-ranked Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes are also set to line-up in the elite event.

The event will host their traditional 42.2km road event and two new trail events – a 22km and 46km.

In August, the race was nominated as a World Major candidate – the first marathon in Africa to receive the honour. The race will be evaluated over the next three years with the hope that it is finally given status as a World Major along with races like London, New York and Berlin.


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