Updated: February 19, 2015

South Africa’s latest top-flight marathon has attracted some of the continent’s most prolific athletes, organisers have confirmed, as they target record performances at next week’s Durban City Marathon.
Returning after a hiatus of a few years due to a lack of sponsorship, the race is back with a bang as KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA) predicts the first ever standard sub-2:10:00 on SA soil.
Nobody has dipped under the 2:10:00 barrier since Zithulele Sinqe (2:08:04) and Willie Mtolo (2:08:15) were locked in a spectacular duel in Port Elizabeth in May 1986, and KZNA president Sello Mokoena said they were pushing for speedy efforts on the fast, flat course along the Durban beach front.
“We’ll be very happy with a sub-2:10 performance from the men and sub-2:30:00 from the women,” Mokoena said.
“We’re also expecting fast times, around 28 minutes, in the (men’s) 10km race.”
David Barmasai Tumo of Kenya (pictured above), who won the 2011 Dubai Marathon in 2:07:18 and secured victory at the PetroSA Marathon in Mossel Bay last year, has confirmed his entry, along with compatriot Shadrack Kemboi, the Soweto Marathon course record holder.
In the women’s event, 2010 Boston Marathon winner Teyba Erkesso of Ethiopia, who clocked a personal best of 2:23:53 five years ago, will line up as the clear favourite.
Zimbabwean Rutendo Nyahora, a regular feature on the SA road running circuit, offers another exciting prospect as she prepares to make her 42km debut.
Meanwhile, local favourites Stephen Mokoka and Gladwin Mzazi have confirmed their participation in the 10km race, though Mokoena remained hopeful one of them would opt instead to set the pace in the marathon.
“We want fast times because we haven’t had a time under 2:10:00 on SA soil in decades,” he said.
Four men — Sinqe, Mtolo, Mark Plaatjies and Ernest Seleke — have dipped under 2:10:00 in South Africa, but all of them achieved the feat on a “downhill” course.
The fastest time set in the country, in line with international standards for record purposes, was posted by Joseph Skosana who clocked 2:10:29 in July 1991.
The relaunched Durban race, offering more than R700 000 in prize money, including R100 000 to the first men and women, is the third richest standard marathon in the country behind the Cape Town and Gauteng 42km events.