Updated: September 17, 2016

Shadrack Kemboi of Kenya will defend his Cape Town Marathon title this weekend

‚ÄčOrganisers are hoping the elite men’s and women’s fields will clock some of the fastest times ever run on SA soil at the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon on Sunday.

With pacemakers in place to lead the men’s line-up, and a faster, flatter course on offer, the elite pack will target a sub-2:09 performance at the IAAF Silver Label race.

“Ensuring we have quality fields which can run fast times is a key part of our goal to achieve IAAF Gold Label status, and we are pleased to again showcase a world-class line-up,” said race ambassador Elana Meyer.

“By introducing pacers we are confident of seeing some record performances this weekend.”

Shadrack Kemboi, who won the race last year in 2:11:41, will spearhead a strong international men’s contingent which also includes the likes of fellow sub-2:10 runners Teferi Fekadu Girma and Kaleb Keshebo Basore of Ethiopia, nine-time European cross country champion Sergey Lebid of Ukraine, and Dickson Marwa who holds the Tanzanian national half-marathon record of 59:52.

The local contingent, aiming to earn the first SA win since the race was relaunched in 2014, consists of a mix of rising stars and experienced contenders who will be eager to outclass the foreign onslaught.

The domestic line-up will be carried by Lungile Gongqa, though he may be tired from over-racing since he finished second last year in 2:11:59, and former national champion Benedict Moeng.

Eager to establish their places among the continent’s elite athletes over the classic distance, some of the country’s most promising marathon runners will also turn out, including Lucky Mohale and Xolisa Tyali.

In the women’s race, the international field will be spearheaded by Megertu Ifa Geletu of Ethiopia, who clocked 2:29:45 at the Dubai Marathon in January, and Kenyan athlete Jane Kiptoo, who holds a personal best of 2:31:21.

The domestic challenge will be led by veteran Tanith Maxwell, who clocked a career record of 2:32:33 at the Berlin Marathon in 2010, Keneilwe Sesing, who finished sixth last year on debut in 2:43:38, Lebogang Phalula, who will make her first appearance over the 42.2km distance, and former national champion Zintle Xiniwe.

The 10km race has also attracted some of the country’s fastest road runners, with SA record holder Stephen Mokoka and Olympic marathon runner Sibusiso Nzima spearheading the men’s line-up.

Diana-Lebo Phalula, who also competed in the Olympic marathon in Rio last month, will turn out as the favourite for the women’s title.