A cream of African marathon runners is expected to grace this year’s edition of the Steinmetz Gaborone marathon.
Information reaching Sunday Standard is that the continent’s top athletes, among them Steinmetz Gaborone marathon defending champion Felix Kipkorir of Kenya, will compete at this year’s marathon.
Speaking in an interview, the marathon coordinator, Stellan Bengtsson, said the defending champion will compete against elite runners such as South Africa’s marathon record holder Gert Thys, Luka Kipkemoi Chelimo of Kenya as well as Melkamu Wondimew Abate of Ethiopia.
The international athletes are expected to be joined by the cream of local athletes. However, with the closing date for registration fast approaching, Bengtsson said they are still expecting some elite runners to still come on board.
“This is a very fast growing race in the local calendar and this year we expect it to grow even more,” the marathon coordinator explained. He said the fact that the marathon will be used as a qualifier for the World Championships coupled with its attractive prize money is sure to attract world class athletes.
“We are expecting a very interesting race this year. For the first time, Batswana will get a chance to see world class athletes competing here in Botswana,” Bengtsson said.
On the impact of the marathon on local athletics, the Steinmetz marathon coordinator said local athletes will also benefit greatly from competing.
“This will give our local marathon runners an opportunity to rub shoulders with the cream of international stars in their own home ground. They will be able to compete and test themselves against the best and this can only help them improve,” Bengtsson opined.
Meanwhile, the race coordinator said the number of people who have registered to compete at this year’s edition has already exceeded 3┬á100, which is a total number of last year’s competitors.
“Our target is to have 4 000 runners in this year’s edition and we are on track to reach this target. We are receiving a lot of registrations daily and once we hit the target, which is very near, we will close the registrations,” he said.
To take good care of the competitors, the race coordinator said water stations will be erected every 2.5 kilometres of the race and medical help will be available.
On the preparations’ side, Bengtsson said everything is going smoothly. He said so far, all volunteers are in place to help with the smooth running of the race. The Steinmetz Gaborone marathon will take place on the 5th of May and the winner is expected to walk away with P 50 000 cash.