2017 Sanlam Cape Town Marathon review

This past weekend I ran the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon for the second year in a row. Having (only just) achieved my goal of sub-4 hours, I thought I’d share my experience of the race.

Entry and registration

Online entry was straight forward as is common with most events these days. The entry fee was R260 with an additional R30 for a temporary license (I must get a permanent license next year). Number collection was at The Lookout in the V&A Waterfront. I work nearby which meant I was within walking distance. Traffic and parking is a bit of a nightmare during peak times at registration, so I was thankful to avoid that.

Entrants received an ASICS event shirt, as was the case last year. It’s a good quality shirt which will be useful for training in.

The route

In 2016, we more or less ran the exact same route but in the opposite direction compared to this year’s route. The start in Beach road and finish at the old Green Point athletics stadium remained the same.

This year the route took the runners through the CBD up towards Gardens and then down to Cape Town City Hall. Running along the elevated freeway was a highlight for me. We then headed along main road towards Newlands, before doing a loop of Rondebosch Common.

Next, we started the journey back towards town along Liesbeek Parkway. There was an unpleasant detour into Maitland along Voortrekker Road. I say unpleasant as this is a filthy, industrial area that goes past a train station. Needless to say, the smell and sights along this part of the route were forgettable. With the least impressive section of the race out the way, we continued towards Woodstock and onto the N1.

The next part of the race saw us running away from town along Paarden Eiland. Thereafter, we made our way onto the MyCiTi bus lane heading back into town again. This section of the race came around the 10km mark last year which I preferred. It is not a spectator friendly section of the course and as we were about 35km in at this stage, it was rather boring. The short section along the Foreshore took us within a few kilometers of the finish.

The water stations 💦

Cape Town Marathon posted on Facebook that they would be taking steps to reduce water usage.

With the ongoing drought in the Western Cape it blew my mind to see the amount of water wasted by runners. Sachets got ripped open and sprayed everywhere. Half-consumed sachets got dropped to the ground, soaking the road at the water stations.

Regardless of the source of the water in the sachets it did not look good to see such wastage.

Even though there were bins at the water stations, some runners chose to ignore them. The organisers did a great job cleaning up afterwards, but this is still disappointing to see.

There needs to be a greater awareness of their “pledge to run green” (from the online entry, to registration and along the route). It is difficult to see how the environment is better off after an event like this.

My race

Although this was my fourth marathon, I felt uneasy at the start in spite of having trained well for the event. After an amazing two week holiday in Borneo and Singapore the week before, I thought I was well rested.

Something didn’t feel 100% which I can only put down to nerves of wanting to achieve a sub-4 hour time for a marathon. I got close to this goal of mine last year and felt some pressure to achieve it the second time around.

The pace at the start of the race, from batch D, was quite fast (compared to my goal pace of 5:32/km) and I should have held myself back. All the excitement and energy of the event takes precedence and logic falls by the wayside.

I found the heat to have a bigger impact on me than I thought it would. There was very little wind and an average temperature of 25.0 °C took it’s toll on me in the exposed parts of the route.

Knowing that I would start to slow after the 30km mark, I “hit the wall” after only 27 kilometers! Looking at my splits, my pace dropped to around 5:50/km with a few over 6:00/km up until by 38km. By this point I was in pure survival mode and put my head down to try and smash out the last few kilometers.

Having seen my average pace drop below my goal pace, I knew I was up against the wall to achieve my goal. In a mad dash to the finish with the other runners, I crossed the line in 4:00:01 completely knackered.

From back in batch D, we only crossed the start line a few hundred meters after hearing the firing of the gun. This meant that my net time was 03:59:03 which takes into account the time taken to cross the actual starting line.

In hindsight…

  • I should have put in a few more longer runs (3+ hours at a slower pace).

  • Arrived even earlier at the start to relax and mentally prepare for the race.

  • Resisted the urge to start fast! I remind myself of the advice I read about starting slow and finishing faster, but seldom follow it.

  • 😳 Declined the offer of a Bar One in Newlands (as delicious as it was, it was too early on in the race). I craved sugar like mad from then on and that may have resulted in my “crash” earlier than expected.

  • Finishing a marathon is something to be proud of and it is easy to forget what a privilege it is to take part in.

This guy! Cape Town Marathon 03:59:03 Well done you! 😍

A post shared by Nossie Roux (@nossieroux) on

The winners 🥇

Congratulations to defending champion Asefa Mengstu Negewo won the men’s race in 2:10:01 and Betelhem Moges won the women’s race in 2:32:22

Further reading