As runners gear up for the upcoming Soweto Marathon, South African athletes are poised to challenge the longstanding dominance of foreigners, particularly Ethiopians, Kenyans, and Lesotho nationals.
This showdown will unfold in the heart of Soweto on Sunday, 5 November, as the City of Johannesburg collaborates with African Bank to host the ever-growing and increasingly popular “People’s Race”.
The Soweto Marathon is officially the largest one-day running event in the country, with over 40,000 runners having registered for this year’s event.
The race offers various categories, including the gruelling 42.2km marathon, the 21.1km half-marathon, and the more accessible 10km run.
Cllr Lubabalo Magwentshu, Member of the Mayoral Committee for Community Development, says the City will field more than 100 athletes in all three categories of the Soweto Marathon.The starter’s gun for the 42.2km marathon is scheduled for 5:30am, followed by the half-marathon at 6:30am and the 10km run at 7:30am. A notable highlight will be the official kick-off of the 10km race by the Executive Mayor, Cllr Kabelo Gwamanda, who will ceremoniously fire the starter’s gun at the iconic FNB Stadium in Soweto.
The race route will take runners through the historic streets of Soweto, passing by significant heritage sites such as the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication—the site where the Freedom Charter was adopted in 1955—Regina Mundi Church, as well as Vilakazi Street, notable for being home to two Nobelists, Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Along the route there is the Hector Pieterson Memorial, where memoirs of the history of the June 16, 1976 Soweto student uprising are kept.The halfway point of the marathon is marked by the vibrant Soweto Theatre, a testament to the rich cultural tapestry of the City.
On race day, a special activation at a water point near the theatre is set to enhance the overall race experience for participants and spectators just off Bolani Road in Jabulani.“This activation promises to enhance the overall race experience and provide a refreshing and engaging atmosphere for participants and spectators alike,” says MMC Magwentshu.
The route also boasts other heritage sites like the Sir Harry Oppenheimer Tower, Morris Isaacson High School, the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s house, and Orlando Stadium.
“The support and cheering that athletes receive from Soweto residents is something special on this route,” he adds.The finish line brings a special sight: the iconic 2010 World Cup stadium, a symbol of unity and sporting excellence.“The African Bank Soweto Marathon is indeed not an ordinary race; it’s known as “The People’s Race,” where people from all walks of life unite for a common cause—to run.”
Athletes interested in joining this iconic race can submit their applications through the official Soweto Marathon website: www.sowetomarathon.com. In this year’s edition, runners are encouraged to dedicate their race to a chosen cause or charity, adding a deeper purpose to their run.Notably, the City of Johannesburg firefighters will run the challenging 42-kilometre race in full firefighting gear.
“This remarkable endeavour serves as a heartfelt tribute to their fallen colleagues who tragically lost their lives in a devastating blaze that consumed the Bank of Lisbon building in September 2018,” he shared.
Magwentshu says the City is committed to ensuring the safety of all participants, motorists, and spectators, with a robust presence of personnel along the race routes.
“A multitude of dedicated personnel, including members of the City’s Emergency Management Service (EMS), Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) officials, and the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD), will be strategically stationed along the 42.2km, 21km, and 10km routes to ensure the safety of runners, motorists, and spectators,” he explains.