By Mark Etheridge
Exactly a week from today the southern suburbs will resound to the pitter-patter of feet… close on 40 000 of them in fact.
Yes, it’s the 39th running of the annual Old Mutual Two Oceans ultra-marathon around the peninsula.
There’s good and also some not-so-good news as this year’s event looms large.
Worrying is the fact that entries for the flagship 56-kilometre event are down 10.4 percent from last year – coming in at 6 693, compared to 7 743 last year.
Encouraging though is the phenomenal growth in the half-marathon, first introduced in 1998.
From a field of 2 915 finishers in the inaugural event, this year’s line-up will feature a gargantuan 11 218, the biggest thus far.
And more good news is that all last year’s top 10 male gold medallists in the ultra-event will be back in action.
That means that Venda athlete Bethuel Netshifhefhe will once again be a marked man by the wannabe winners.
Netshifhefhe’s superb effort of 3hr 07min 56sec made him the first South African to win the flagship event since 2003, when regular visitor to the Cape, Mluleki Nobana, won.
Last year, visitor Madina Biktagirova won her first attempt at an ultra distance event in 3:35:04, the second fastest time yet. The tough Russian was 4:28 behind the 18-year-old course record of Frith van der Merwe.
Saturday’s race will again be screened live, on SABC 2 from 6am to 2pm.