Johannesburg Member of the Mayoral Committee for Community Development Councillor Chris Vondo will on Sunday morning lace up his running shoes and join more than 21 000 runners at the Nasrec Exhibition Centre for the Nike Soweto Marathon.
MMC Vondo, a keen fitness fanatic and an active supporter of the City of Johannesburg’s Healthy Lifestyle Programme, will be among high-profile personalities who will be part of the classic annual sporting event as it makes a welcome return to the streets of Soweto after a brief lull caused by internal wrangling in Athletics South Africa.
Other celebrities who will grace the event include Gauteng Premier David Makhura, Ekurhuleni Executive Mayor Mondli Gungubele, South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee President Gideon Sam and Gauteng Central Athletics President James Moloi.
Many City of Johannesburg councillors, high-ranking officials and employees are also expected to join the runners to actively promote the City’s Healthy Lifestyle Programme, which, among other things, encourages residents to engage in physical activities such as running and walking to drive away chronic diseases and conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and heart ailments.
Initiated by Johannesburg Executive Mayor Mpho Parks Tau, the programme seeks to significantly contribute to the enhancement of the city’s life expectancy. The last time the Soweto Marathon was staged was in 2012.
As was the case in previous years, the City will partner with other stakeholders to ensure the success of the marathon.
The Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) will take control of dedicated routes to ensure the safety of both the runners and the public, while the Emergency Management Services (EMS) will be on standby to attend to medical emergencies. City entities such as Joburg Water and the Joburg Roads Agency will man water points along the 42.2km route.
What makes the marathon unique is that it takes runners along routes that showcase Soweto’s rich cultural diversity and heritage.
Moloi is upbeat about Sunday’s event. “We’ve done a lot of hard work to ensure the success of the event. There have been inquiries from as far afield as Lesotho,” he said
He said it was vital the race was a success in order to attract more entrants in future. “The race was established on strong grounds. Over the years it grew into a force to be reckoned with.”
Top athletes from Ethiopia, Morocco, Kenya and Zimbabwe have been invited by the sponsors to take part. The race will be divided into three categories: 42,2km, 21,1km and 10km.
The first man and first woman to hit the tape in the 42,2km race will take home R100 000 each. Male and female winners in the 21,1km race will pocket R10 000 each. The 10km race carries a R5 000 first prize each for both male and female winners.