And the Winners Are…

In our February edition, we announced that for the first time since it was launched in 2009, Modern Athlete magazine is presenting a comprehensive annual Modern Athlete of the Year Awards, to recognise as many deserving South African athletes as we can, for their performances in 2023, across all the disciplines of athletics and running that we cover in this mag. And here, after putting out heads together and discussing, comparing, tabulating and debating, are our winners for 2023! – By Manfred Seidler, Stephen Granger, Altus Schreuder & Sean Falconer 

Which SA athletes are on track for Olympic selection?

By Karien Jonckheere

With the opening ceremony of the Paris Olympic Games now five months away, 11 South African athletes have already achieved qualification standards for the global showpiece.

The most recent name to be added to that list was Cian Oldknow who ran the second-fastest marathon time by a South African woman of 2 hours 25 minutes and 08 seconds in Seville last weekend.

“I’m still feeling so excited and over the moon about running the qualifying time,” said the 27-year-old. “It was what we had set out to do in Seville. So to have actually done it is both a relief and an amazing feeling of gratitude and joy.”

Also among the qualifiers in the marathon are SA record holder Gerda Steyn who ran a 2:24:03 in December last year and Irvette van Zyl who ran 2:26:11 in Valencia in December 2022, while among the men, only Stephen Makoka has achieved the mark, running 2:06:42 in Osaka last February.

The timeline for achieving qualifying marks in track and field, apart from the 10,000m and combined events, began on 1 July 2023, with the final deadline for qualification coming up on 30 June 2024, while on the road, marathon runners had between 6 November 2022 and 5 May 2024 to qualify.

Among the first to achieve their qualification mark on the track was two-time Olympic 100m finalist Akani Simbine whose time of 9.97 seconds run on 16 July last year in Poland all but booked his ticket to Paris.

“I qualified for Olympics last year already and having that weight off my shoulders makes it easier for us to plan our season gearing up to the Olympics,” he explained. “I don’t need to stress about racing and getting my Q for the Games.”

Other track athletes who have ‘the Q’ are Luxolo Adams in the 200m, world record-holder Wayde van Niekerk and Zakithi Nene (400m), Tshepo Tshite (1500m0, Adriaan Wildschutt (5000m) and Marioné Fourie (100m hurdles).

Qualification for Paris is not only attained by achieving entry standards, however – with an additional 50 per cent of qualifiers being decided via world rankings. Taking that into account, 10 more athletes (along with the men’s 4x100m relay team) could be added to the list eligible for selection if they maintain their current rankings by the cutoff date of 7 July for track and field and 12 May for the marathon.

With several months still to achieve both entry standards and work their way up the world rankings, even more could be added, with a limit of three per country per event.

Speaking about the composition of the team, Simbine reckoned: “Team SA is going through a transition. There are younger athletes that are coming into the sport and I’m hoping they take the opportunity with both hands and come into the space with maturity and hunger to commit and do great things.”

“I’m looking forward to the guys qualifying and believing that they can compete against the world.” 

The Running Mann: Searching for Pots, Chefs, Strooms

Now that I am finally back to enjoying one of my favourite hobbies, travelling the country to try run every marathon or ultra in South Africa, I recently found myself in Potchefstroom for the LetsGo Potch Marathon, and besides enjoying a good run with various running friends, I also delved deep down into the darker side of my sense of humour. – By Stuart Mann

Putting on My Big Girl Pants

When I blew out the 20 candles for my birthday at the start of 2023, I didn’t know what lay ahead of me in the year I had signed up for on the road, but I knew I would be finding out a lot about myself, including how my legs would handle going further than they’d ever run before. I also knew I may have to convince a few doubters along the way that I can do it. – By Ela Meiring 

Balwin Properties launches Marathon Series, Four Races, Four Cities.

Road running receives R2 Million annual injection for the next 10 years with the launch of the Balwin Sport Marathon Series; and to top it you could win a fully furnished apartment worth R800k! 

Balwin Sport will be investing R2 million annually over the next 10 years as the title sponsor of four iconic races in South Africa, Jeppe, Cape Peninsula, Phobians Pretoria, and Dolphin Coast  marathons. All these marathons are Comrades qualifiers, with the first three races being Two Oceans Qualifiers. 

Balwin Properties, a developer that cares about environmentally responsible building practices and the delivery of high-quality apartments to its valued clients, has launched Balwin Sport, a division of the Group aimed at promoting a healthier lifestyle amongst its clients, staff, and all South Africans.

Steve Brookes, CEO and founder of Balwin commented, “Since the pandemic we’ve explored ways of promoting a healthier lifestyle amongst all South Africans. Through the careful re-allocation of existing marketing budgets, we were able to launch Balwin Sport, which will inject more than R2 million into South African road running annually, by becoming the title sponsor of some of the country’s oldest and most iconic marathons over the next 10 years.”

Road running legend Barry Holland – holder of a record 49 consecutive Comrades medals to date – and race director for Dolphin Coast Striders, has been appointed as the overall race co-ordinator for the series. “Road running is one of the most accessible sports and allows anyone, from weekend warriors to elite athletes to compete. I am very excited about the opportunities that Balwin Sport’s title sponsorship will unlock, not only in growing road running across the country but also in uncovering the potential top talent of the future through the respective clubs’ development work,” says Barry.

The first Balwin Sport-sponsored marathon kicks off on 11 February 2024 with the two-lapper Jeppe Marathon, followed by the Cape Peninsula Marathon on 18 February 2024, the Phobians Pretoria Marathon on 25 February 2024, and finally, the Dolphins Coast marathon on 17 March 2024.

All the title marathons are Comrades and Two Oceans Marathon qualifiers except for the Dolphin Coast marathon, where participants can only qualify for Comrades. The marathons are some of the country’s oldest, with the Cape Peninsula Marathon being run for the 56th time in 2024, having been founded by Celtic Harriers in 1964.

To further motivate participation, runners over any of the title event distances (5km, 10km, 21.1km, or 42.2km) could qualify to win a fully furnished Balwin apartment when they visit one of the developer’s show units after the races, with participants being given more than 7 months to boost their chances after the events.

Ryan Kalk, MD of Balwin Sport and Balwin National Sales Manager explained, “Our key objective is for people to participate and get healthy. Participants who enter and complete any distance on the day of the race and follow this up with a visit to any of our show apartments at our developments countrywide will stand a chance to win a fully furnished apartment to the value of R800,000.”

Bruce King of Jeppe Athletics Club says, “The Balwin Sport Jeppe Marathon is the first event in the series, but as a race it comes with a long 40-year history. We are looking forward to this tremendous new period in the race’s history. Balwin and Jeppe have a common ethos and we look forward to this becoming the marathon series of choice for runners.”

Glenn Muller of Celtic Harriers Running Club says, “The Cape Peninsula Marathon, hosted by Celtic Harriers is the oldest marathon in Cape Town and takes runners along an awesome route with the Atlantic Ocean a constant reminder of what a privilege it is to run this race. We are excited beyond words to have Balwin Properties as the title sponsor on board and their mantra of ‘Lifestyle Experience’ will elevate the Balwin Sport Peninsula Marathon to a must-do event where thousands of human stories of accomplishment can be interwoven into this iconic brand.”

Grahaeme Gertschof of Phobians Athletics Club says, “The Pretoria Marathon has been around for over 30 years, as one of the most prominent running events in the city. Hosted by Phobians Athletics Club, we want to grow the race to become a “big city” marathon – a nationally recognised, not-to-be-missed event on the running calendar.”

The People’s Race Will Happen!

First it was cancelled, then it was on again… this has been the yo-yo experience for the running community today as news broke about the Soweto Marathon. As a long-term media partner to the race, Modern Athlete got in touch with the ‘right’ people to get to the bottom of what is really going on.

On Wednesday morning, we woke to the news that the 2023 Soweto Marathon had been cancelled due to an ongoing dispute regarding the broadcast rights for the race, and the funding received for these rights. Thankfully, a few hours later news broke that the 28th edition of the event known as the People’s Race will go ahead as scheduled on Sunday 5 November.

The original media release announcing the cancellation of the race was apparently issued on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning, and quoted Soweto Marathon Trust (SMT) Chairman Sello Khunou directly, so it appeared to have been issued by the SMT. This media release laid the blame for the cancellation squarely at the feet of Athletics South Africa (ASA) and Central Gauteng Athletics (CGA).

However, according to a statement released today by provincial athletics body, Central Gauteng Athletics (CGA), Khunou as well as General Secretary Ishe Sadiki and Board Member Pamela Tainton had already been suspended by the provincial federation the previous week, for bringing the sport into disrepute, and they each face a potential two-year suspension from all athletics activities, subject to a disciplinary and appeal process. The original press release therefore appears to have been released following their suspension.

Furthermore, on Sunday 18 June, CGA met with 15 of the 17 Soweto athletics clubs that make up the SMT, to ensure that the race will be hosted successfully following the suspension of the above Trust members. According to CGA, the clubs welcomed the suspension of the three members and indicated to CGA that the race must take place in 2023. Note: The Soweto athletics clubs are the beneficiaries of the Soweto Marathon, and both the event and these Soweto clubs are affiliated to CGA, and through the provincial federation, also to Athletics South Africa (ASA).

Getting Back on Track

When asked about the unfortunate turn of events, newly elected SMT Board Member Thokozani Mazibuko said, “This is not what we as the Soweto Marathon Trust wanted or expected. Our focus is to find a solution to the problem and get the 2023 People’s Race on track. The sudden announcement of cancellation from disgruntled members created panic and was completely unnecessary.”

He added that the Trust, the Board, and the relevant athletics bodies are all committed to ensuring the race happens, saying, “Our message to the runners planning on tackling the Soweto Marathon in November is that our 2023 edition is happening, and we can’t wait to welcome you to the streets of Soweto.”

We also spoke to long-standing Race Director, Danny Blumberg, and he assured us that while the opening of entries has been delayed due to these internal issues, this is in no way holding up the organisation of the 2023 edition of the race. “My team is working hard in the background to ensure that when we are able to open entries, everything will be on track to make sure that this edition of the People’s Race is as good as runners expect it to be,” he said.

The Soweto Marathon has been a much-loved fixture on the running calendar for nearly three decades, and we look forward to bringing you all the news, including the opening date for entries, expected to be announced soon!

Trust Me, I can Do This

There was no fanfare when Zubayr Isaacs quietly crossed the finishline of the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon last October in just under five and a half hours, but those who know his story will understand just how momentous his run was. And they will also understand just how proud, and relieved, his mother, Lameez Isaacs, was, when she finished half an hour later. You see, this young man is autistic, and finishing a marathon by himself was another big step in his remarkable journey since taking up running in 2017. – By Sean Falconer

Soweto Marathon is the biggest One Day Race in 2022!

Having surpassed the 16 000 entry mark, the 27th edition of the Soweto Marathon is now this year’s biggest one day

Soweto Marathon Trust Chairman, Sello Khunou takes tremendous pride from this achievement, and is grateful to all
those who have entered; “There is no denying that Covid put all events in jeopardy of shutting down. Through tremendous dedication, we are proud to host the 27th event and endeavour to do so to the high standards that our fans have come to expect. This latest achievement is a testament to our loyal fans entering once more – we absolutely cannot wait to have them back come 6 November. And to those who will be running for the first time: We welcome you and wish you a great race in South Africa’s biggest one-day race this year!”

There is Still Time To Enter!

After numerous calls from athletes requesting an extension of the race entry cut-off date, Soweto Marathon organisers heeded the call and so the extension was granted due to public demand. The 27th edition of The People’s Race has made the bold move to extend the closing date of entries in order to allow participants to enter their chosen distance of 10km, 21.1km, or 42.2km.

Entries will remain open until the entry cap is reached, so says Soweto Marathon Trust Chairman Sello Khunou;
“We understand the pressures that our valued runners are under – and as such we are allowing them to enter to participate in their beloved People’s Race. We take note too of their recent participation in other races and know that once the athletes have recovered adequately, they’ll be wanting to hit the streets once more! The Soweto Marathon promises to deliver another top event and I strongly encourage runners from all walks of life to enter – let us celebrate our ability to move, our health, our spirit and our beautiful country.”

So if you would like to be part of making history in out post-COVID-19 era, click here to Enter Today!

Entry Options:

Option 1: With the T-shirt included

The Marathon (42.2km): Entry Fee R550

The Half Marathon (21.1km): Entry Fee R450

The 10km: Entry Fee R350

Option 2: Without the T-shirt *

The Marathon (42.2km): Entry Fee R400

The Half Marathon (21.1km): Entry Fee R300

The 10km: Entry Fee R200

* If you change your mind about the T-shirt, you will still be able to buy one later.


Every runner that enters this year’s Soweto Marathon, no matter the distance you choose, will be given an online 20% discount voucher from Totalsports on performance shoes priced R2000 and above. That’s a minimum saving of R400 off your next pair of running shoes!