“We are excited to host this event again after it was stopped for a few years because we lost the sponsor,” KwaZulu-Natal Athletics president Sello Mokoena said on Thursday.
“We wanted to give athletes a runner-friendly course in order to qualify for the Two Oceans and Comrades ultra-marathons.
“We also want fast times because we haven’t had a time under 2:10:00 on SA soil in decades.”
Kenyan David Tumo, who won the 2011 Dubai Marathon, had committed to the race, along with countryman Shadrack Kemboi, the Soweto Marathon record holder.
In the women’s event, 2010 Boston Marathon winner Teyba Erkesso of Ethiopia would line up as the clear favourite, with Zimbabwean Rutendo Nyahora set to make her debut.
More athletes were expected to be included in the elite line-up before the event on March 1.
Only four men — Zithulele Sinqe, Willie Mtolo, Mark Plaatjies and Ernest Seleke — have dipped under 2:10:00 on SA soil, though all four athletes achieved the feat on an “aided” downhill course in the 1980s, while the Durban race will be held on a standard route.
The race, which offers over R700 000 in prize money, including R100 000 to the first men and women, is the third richest standard marathon in the country behind the Cape Town and Gauteng events.