For the first time in its history, the Sanlam Cape Town marathon will include the elite wheelchair race category this year to its race set to take place in October.
The marathon organisers announced that they will be joined by the world champion, Paralympian, 10-time Boston Marathon wheelchair race winner, Ernst van Dyk, as their ambassador.
General Manager, Barry van Blerk, said the organising team is honoured and excited to welcome Van Dyk as the elite wheelchair race ambassador and the elite wheelchair race category will add another layer of excitement. “Seeing the world’s best wheelchair athletes in action is truly something to behold, and local marathon fans are in for a treat. But even more important, we hope that this will expose young local para-athletes to a whole new world of possibility,” he said.
He added that while the addition of the elite wheelchair category is one of the criteria that needs to be met by the event to become an Abbott World Marathon Majors (AbbottWMM), it has been a long-time goal of the race organisers to create an environment for a more inclusive event. To ensure that the race runs smoothly, he said they are currently working closely with the City of Cape Town to enhance the marathon route. “The wheelchair race is fast and technical, so will start a few minutes before the elite runners for safety reasons,” said van Blerk.
He added that the marathon already meets many of the requirements set by the Abbott World Marathon Majors, and the addition of the elite wheelchair race is an example of the exciting changes they are making to take the event to the next level.
Van Dyk said she is overjoyed that the wheelchair racing community will finally have an opportunity to participate on African soil, and she’s looking forward to show them how diverse and accessible the Mother City is. “It has always been my dream to help create a platform for South African and African wheelchair athletes to race against the world’s best, and the inclusion of the elite wheelchair category to the Cape Town Marathon will do just that,” she said.