Organisers revealed the first group of elite athletes on Tuesday for the annual 42km race.
“We’re very excited to have good, up-and-coming local runners taking part,” said race ambassador Elana Meyer, a former Olympic champion on the track and multiple world record holder on the road.
Diana-Lebo Phalula, who won the Spar Grand Prix 10km series and Two Oceans half-marathon title last year, would make her 42km debut, organisers confirmed.
She would be joined in the women’s race by compatriots Nolene Conrad, making her second attempt at the classic distance, and national marathon champion Zintle Xiniwe.
On the men’s side, Gladwin Mzazi, also competing in his second marathon, was confirmed in the elite field, along with Xolisa Tyali.
They would face an international contingent including Will Kibor of Kenya, who won last year in 2:10:45, former Prague Marathon winner Nicholas Kemboi of Qatar and Ethiopian Dereje Debele, who set a course record of 2:07:48 at the 2013 Dusseldorf Marathon.
“Last year Kibor was isolated at the end, and this year we want to ensure it is a more competitive race,” Meyer said.
The men’s 10km field would include local stars Stephen Mokoka and Elroy Gelant, with the likes of Mapaseka Makhanya, Lebogang Phalula, Tanith Maxwell and Jenna Challenor turning out in the women’s race.
More elite international athletes were expected to be revealed closer to the September 20 event, which is the only IAAF Silver Label road race in Africa, and Meyer believed the men’s and women’s race records held by Kibor and Ethiopian Meseret Biru (2:30:57) would both be under threat.
“We are aiming to achieve Gold Label status, so we will have at least five Gold Label athletes from five different countries, which is one of the requirements,” she said.
“The course will be flatter and faster as we’ve cut out some of the hills, so it’s geared towards quick times.
“I think it’s at least a minute faster than last year’s course, and we’re hoping for the winners to run under 2:10:00 and 2:30:00.”