Sanlam Cape Town Marathon confirms elite wheelchair race with Ernst van Dyk as ambassador

Media Release   |  Jun. 20, 2022

(Cape Town, 20 June 2022) – Paralympian, world champion, and 10-time Boston Marathon wheelchair race winner, Ernst van Dyk, has joined the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon as race ambassador with the official confirmation of an elite wheelchair race to the 16 October marathon.

Van Dyk, who has raced on the world stage for the past three decades, is thrilled to play his part to bring elite wheelchair racing to the African continent.

“It has always been my dream to help create a platform for South African and African wheelchair athletes to race against the world’s best, and the inclusion of the elite wheelchair category to the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon will do just that.

“I am overjoyed that my wheelchair racing family will finally have an opportunity to participate on African soil, and I am excited to show them how diverse and accessible the Mother City is. The world of para-athletics has evolved over the years, and we are now in a place where there is an appetite to see differently abled athletes in action.”

Sanlam Cape Town Marathon General Manager, Barry van Blerk, says that the organising team is honoured and excited to welcome van Dyk as elite wheelchair race ambassador. “As a world champion and Paralympian with decades’ of experience, Ernst is perfectly placed to help us ensure that the marathon course is primed to host the world’s best wheelchair athletes when we welcome them to the Mother City in October.

“The elite wheelchair race category will add another layer of excitement. Seeing the world’s best wheelchair athletes in action is truly something to behold, and local marathon fans are in for a treat. But even more important, we hope that this will expose young local para-athletes to a whole new world of possibility”

While addition of the elite wheelchair category is one of the criteria that needs to be met by the event to become an Abbott World Marathon Majors (AbbottWMM), it has been a long time goal of the race organisers to create an environment for a more inclusive event.

To facilitate this, the organising team is currently working closely with the City of Cape Town to enhance the marathon route.

“The wheelchair race is fast and technical, so will start a few minutes before the elite runners for safety reasons,” van Dyk adds. “The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon race course is on par with the TCS New York City Marathon, so one can expect similar finish times of around 1:30:00.”

The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon became the first marathon in Africa to be nominated as an Abbott World Marathon Majors candidate race. The three-year evaluation period, conducted by AbbottWMM, kicks off in 2022, during which the event will be required to meet stringent criteria. If successful, the marathon will join an elite group of races – Tokyo Marathon, Boston Marathon, TCS London Marathon, BMW-BERLIN Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon and TCS New York City Marathon – as a new member of the prestigious AbbottWMM in 2025.

“The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon already meets many of the requirements set by the Abbott World Marathon Majors, and the addition of the elite wheelchair race is an example of the exciting changes we are making to take our event to the next level,” van Blerk continues.

“Achieving the status as an Abbott World Marathon Majors will be a fantastic boost for Cape Town, South Africa and Africa.”

The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon has been growing in popularity for the better part of the last decade, with its route offering spectacular ocean scenery and mountain views, while passing many of the City’s great attractions from its famous street art to its iconic historical features – including City Hall, where Nelson Mandela delivered his first public speech as a free man in 1990.

The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon is the only marathon on the African continent to enjoy the prestigious World Athletics Gold Label Status.


Issued by: Sanlam Cape Town Marathon Media Office

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