2020 Cape Town Marathon Goes Virtual!

The Sanlam Cape Town Virtual Marathon will offer an interactive and immersive race experience for athletes across the globe.


RW Editors |

This year’s Sanlam Cape Town Marathon held on 18 October is going virtual – taking the Mother City to the world! This virtual version of the iconic city marathon will be added to its existing bouquet of events.

The physical race however has not been cancelled, but due to the fluidity of COVID-19 situation, the decision will be made closer to the time.

The Sanlam Cape Town Virtual Marathon will offer an interactive and immersive race experience for athletes across the globe by superimposing the race route on top of streets, open spaces and gardens, complete with live tracking, distance markers, and push messages with information about key landmarks as they are passed.

The creation of this virtual race will allow athletes to compete in the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon on 18 October from anywhere in the world, starting at 06:30 local time, wherever they are.

The race will be available through the Sanlam Cape Town Virtual Marathon app, an integrated digital platform that will launch in the coming weeks – due to launch around the end of June.

“We are excited to introduce this digital offering. The app (launching at the end of June) will track participants as if they are running the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon route – whether they find themselves in New York, Naples or Knysna – making this a virtual race like no other. I am certain that having a race on the horizon will give athletes a tangible goal to work towards, and the extra motivation needed to maintain their training within the parameters of the lockdown levels they may find themselves in,” said Sanlam Cape Town Marathon Chairman, Francois Pienaar.

2020 cape town marathon
Photo by Roger Sedres/ Image SA

As it is still too early to predict whether the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon will be staged in its original format on 18 October, the race organisers remain in close contact with Athletics South Africa and all relevant role players as the months progress.

Western Province Athletics President, Jakes Jacobs, has called the introduction of the Sanlam Cape Town Virtual Marathon an example of how race organisers can find creative solutions to the challenges they may face. “In this uncertain time, we believe the way forward is to be responsible and prioritise the safety of all participants and stakeholders. This is a great example of how races can step up to the next level.”

While the 5km and 10km Peace Runs will also be presented in Virtual Race format on 17 and 18 October respectively, there will not be a Virtual Race option for the 2020 Trail Runs.

Race Director Barry van Blerk said “It’s a reality experience like no other. The runners will experience the start line vibe including the national anthem and the message from the Mayor. We will bring to life famous Cape Town landmarks, for example the app will ping to say you are running past the statue of Nelson Mandela at City Hall. We will include gees videos including the Kaapse Klopse, the flower ladies and all the other things that make this race unique.”

“While this is a significant challenge, it’s also the perfect time to be innovative, which is why we have reached out to and gained the support from our sponsors, partners and stakeholders to bring the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon to our global marathon family, no matter where they are,” added Pienaar.

Race Director, Renee Jordaan said “Entries are opening today, so head over to our website and start the entry process! Once entered you will receive a code to download the app, and then you will be able to access the race on the day.”

“For runners who have entered already, you will be able to switch to the virtual race once the app becomes available.” said Jordaan. “There will be a seven-hour cut-off for this virtual race, and will need to make sure they are self-supported.”

2020 cape town marathon
Image from Cape Town Marathon

Entries for the Virtual Race have opened via Webtickets. Athletes who have already entered the 2020 race will be able to transfer to the Virtual Race from June. Entrants will receive an official race number, and all finishers will receive a digital medal and certificate.

“Extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures. The Sanlam Cape Town Virtual Marathon will provide athletes the opportunity to train, remain competitive, and stay connected to the greater running community,” noted Sanlam Cape Town Marathon Race Director, Renée Jordaan. “What better way to illustrate our solidarity than by participating in a virtual race that brings Cape Town to your doorstep. This will truly be a race like no other.”

“SABC is on board to broadcast the virtual race including the pro runners, celebrities and human interest stories” said van Blerk. “There will not be a competitive aspect to the professional runners, however there will be a virtual leaderboard.”

The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon was recently awarded the prestigious World Athletics Gold Label Status for the fourth consecutive year – the only marathon on the African continent and one of only a select group of marathons in the world to have this status. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic that continues to sweep across the globe, and the postponement of the Olympic Games, all Gold Label Status races will retain their status for 2020 and 2021.

For more information, visit capetownmarathon.com.

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