The organisers of the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon are adding a virtual version of the city marathon to its existing bouquet of events.
The Cape Town Virtual Marathon will offer an interactive 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 marathon on Sunday October 18 from anywhere in the world, starting at 6:30am local time, wherever they are.
The race will be available through the Virtual Marathon app, an integrated digital platform that will launch in the coming weeks.
“We are excited to introduce this digital offering. The app will track participants as if they are running the route – whether they find themselves in New York, Naples or Knysna – making this a virtual race like no other,” said Cape Town Marathon chairman, Francois Pienaar.
“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.”
As it is still too early to predict whether the marathon will be staged in its original format, organisers remain in contact with Athletics South Africa and all relevant role-players as the months progress.
“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 marathon to our global marathon family, no matter where they are,” he said.
WP Athletics president, Jakes Jacobs, has called the introduction of the 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.”
Sydney Mbhele, chief executive of brand at Sanlam, said as headline sponsor they are delighted at the prospect of taking the race into a digital space and commended the race organisers.
“Offering people the opportunity to continue to achieve their personal goals – even as normal life has been so greatly altered – is a big focus for us. Whether it is running a personal best in this marathon or achieving any other goals, it is vital that all of us – as South Africans, Africans and the world – work together to find new ways of making our dreams come true.”
He said the Cancer Association of South Africa, the beneficiary of funds from the race, will continue to benefit from the race in 2020, irrespective of the form it takes.
“Our philosophy for the race in 2020 is ‘Run for Something’. Whether a runner is doing it to better their personal best, improve their sense of well-being during lockdown or to raise money for those in need, in a year of such turmoil we want to give participants a reason to run with meaning.”
Race director, Renée Jordaan said the virtual marathon will provide athletes the opportunity to train, remain competitive, and stay connected to the greater running community.
“Extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures and what better way to illustrate our solidarity than by participating in a virtual race that brings Cape Town to your doorstep,” she said.
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.
While the 5km and 10km Peace Runs will also be presented in virtual race format on Saturday October 17 and Sunday October 18 respectively, there will not be a virtual race option for the 2020 Trail Runs.
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