South Africa 18 October: Cape Town

Peace Torch at Cape Town Virtual Marathon

The Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run has been a partner of the SANLAM Cape Town Marathon, the only IAAF Gold Label marathon on the African continent, since 2017. This year we have once again been invited to be part of this prestigious event. Due to the current global Covid-19 pandemic, this year's event is a virtual marathon with around 15 000 people taking part in the 5 km, 10 km, half marathon and marathon events on offer.

However, simultaneous marathon races for elite runners are to be held in the cities of Cape Town, Potchefstroom and Pretoria. We are part of the elite race in Cape Town where our Peace Torch is used in the official race start ceremony, as well as the finish. The race for elite runners in Cape Town begins and finishes at the Greenpoint athletics stadium, which can be seen here with the main Cape Town stadium in the background. It is an early start for all concerned with our team arriving at 5 am for a 6:15 am race start. We are greeted by a beautiful dawn sky, a fitting welcome for this special event, which is one of the first sporting events to be held after the cancellation of so many other races in South Africa.

Here is a link to the official race video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Cs1XdaUM_c

Seen here after the lighting of the Torch ceremony are Mariska Oosthuizen (Sanlam), Shree Chirkoot (Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run), Elana Meyer (Olympic silver medallist and official ambassador for the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon), and Penny Nam (Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run).

The event is well covered by local media including several newspapers and the SABC.

As the time for the race start draws closer, the athletes gather in the start area. I'm sure it must have been a strange experience for these elite athletes lining up for the start of this prestigious race with so few runners.

Representatives of the Cape Town Marathon and partners gather for photos.

From left to right: Penny Nam, Mariska Oosthuizen (Sanlam), Elana van Zyl (nee Meyer), Francois Pienaar, Dan Plato (Executive Mayor of Cape Town), JP Smith (Cape Town Councillor), Shree Chirkoot, Aleck Skhosana (President, Athletics South Africa)

The Peace Torch is then taken on a lap of the track ...

... and is filmed live by the SABC.

The representatives then gather on the stage.

Executive Mayor Dan Plato gives a short speech.

The South African national anthem is then sung.

While the runners prepare for the start.

As soon as the singing of the anthem finishes, the race hooter sounds and the athletes are off.

It's a small, but fast field.

While the athletes head off on to the streets of Cape Town, we have a chance to meet with some of the special guests. Here, Dan Plato, the Executive Mayor for the City of Cape Town, holds the Torch and offers his goodwill for peace.

A birds-eye view of part of the course, with the distinctive Devil's Peak in the background.

It's a very beautiful venue for a running race, with the sea on one side and mountains on the other. Cape Town truly is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

We also meet up with Ryan Sandes, a trail running legend, not just in South Africa but around the globe. In 2010 he became the first competitor to have won all four of the 4 Deserts races, each a 6/7-day, 250 km self-supported footrace through the Atacama Desert in Chile, the Gobi Desert in China, the Sahara Desert in Egypt, and lastly Antarctica. Ryan is happy to hold the Torch and share his goodwill for peace.

The first runner home in Cape Town is Bongmusa Mthembu in a time of 2:17:32.

He is delighted with his win and enthusiastically holds the Peace Torch.

His joy is shared here by Mariska Oosthuizen, Francois Pienaar and, of course, by Elana van Zyl (nee Meyer).

Nkosikhona Mhlakwana comes second in a time of 02:21:41.

While Msawenkosi Mthalane is third in a time of 02:22:02.

Here, the three podium winners in Cape Town are joined in a celebratory photo by our good friend, Elana.

In the women's event, Annie Bothma runs alone throughout the race to win in a new personal best of 02:33:36.

It's a bitter-sweet victory for her. Although it's a new personal best, she had hoped for a better time.

She tells SABC presenter, Vaylen Kirtley, of the long journey she has followed from having to return to South Africa from Kenya in March at very short notice, where she was conducting high altitude training, to having to train on a treadmill throughout the Covid-19 lockdown. She also talks about how sick she felt throughout the entire race and how for her it was one of the hardest races she has run. Well done Annie for your heroic win and for inspiring all of us.

Her victory is warmly and enthusiastically shared by the special guests and celebrities shown here with the Peace Torch playing a unifying role.

Nontokozo Mkhize is the second woman home in a time of 02:46:43.

Here, another elite finisher manages a smile as she approaches the finish.

An enthusiastic smile of support from the Sanlam team.

The last runners to cross the finish line are the MAD2Run team. They have run in relay from Johannesburg to Cape Town in just 7 days, covering a distance of 1520 km. This amazing feat required them to run 24 hours a day. The MAD2Run initiative raises money for the MAD (Make a Difference) leadership foundation.

These brave runners are elated to complete their long journey and the toll of so much running is evident on their tired and strapped up bodies. Well done MAD runners! We salute you.

Some of the runners are interviewed by SABC presenter, Vaylen Kirtley. It's an epic run and I'm sure they've raised valuable funds to support and nurture South Africa's future leaders.

In this final photo from the course, our new friend Renee Jordaan, who is also the Race Director for the Cape Town marathon, holds the Peace Torch with her husband and daughter. Thank you, Renee, for all your hard and dedicated work. We look forward to being part of the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon for many more years.

With all our formal commitments over, we spend our last afternoon in the Mother City enjoying some of her legendary natural beauty. It's a very beautiful day and we are blown away by the breathtaking sea and sky.

We also visit the African penguin colony at Boulders beach. It's fascinating to see these feathered friends up close.

They truly are a unique part of the bird world.

And sharing the space with the penguins is this shy dassie or rock rabbit, who seems to harmoniously co-exist with the penguins in this environment.

And here is a young penguin losing his or her fledgeling down. It's tough being a teenager.

Our last stop for the day is the Slangkop Lighthouse near the village of Kommetjie on the Cape Peninsula. The light and setting are spectacular and this aerial view makes it all the more breathtaking.

It's a beautiful site from which to watch the sunset and to finish our visit to Cape Town.

We have a long drive back to Johannesburg and we once again pass through the vast Karoo, a rugged, semi-arid landscape of unique flora and fauna. As we journey home, we are greeted by this spectacular sunset, a fitting end to a very worthwhile trip to Cape Town. Our sincere gratitude goes to the organisers of the Cape Town Marathon for making us part of this very special event.