The Old Mutual Two Oceans has been confirmed as a world leading event attracting 1500 international visitors.
34% are novices which indicates a resurgence in ultra marathons.
The 56 km field of 9200 is the 2nd largest with all 10 of last year’s gold medalists in the men’s racing returning.
Contenders outside of this experienced group include Michael Mazibukon, of Team Toyota, who was 16 th last year but boasts a silver at the recent SA Marathon champs in 2:15.12.
Novices with the pedigree to challenge for honours include Shadrack Hoff, who this morning felt cold symptoms, and Odwa Tunyiswa, also of Nedbank Running Club, who won last year’s 50 km City-to-city.
Following last year’s PB 4 th place Stephen Muzhingi, representing Formula 1 Bluff Meats, has set his sights on adding this title to his last 3 Comrades.
Whoever wins will have to be at their best in this competitive race and the likelihood of rain.
The women’s event looks a formality for Elena Nurgalieva after the disppointing withdrawal of her twin Oleysa who won last year.
The performance of American novice Devon Crosby-Helms will be monitored as she has a chance of breaking the American 50 km record.
Officials have confirmed that mats will capture this time.
She has trained for 2 months in wet San Franciscan conditions and with a marathon PB of 2:38.55 she is one of the faster ladies and this 3:13.50 target is realistic should all go well for her on raceday.
Gwen van Lingen, 2001 winner, returns to accompany her sister and is aiming for a 4:30-4:40.
In winning in 2002, Natalia Volgina from Russia, recorded the 3 rd fastest ever time but is not expected to repeat this performance on her returns since 2003.
Of great public interest and support will be the debut of national treasure, Olympian Zola Budd-Pieterse, in the 40-49 category.
Another instantly recognizable face will be Gary Kirsten, the indian cricket World Cup winning hero and now Proteas coach.
The Half Marathon started in 1998 with 3600 entrants but has increased by virtually that number on last year as 16 266 entries have been received.
contributor: Peter Wrensch