NMB Nedbank Ultra marathon set to attract top field of elite runners, increases price money

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The star of the Nelson Mandela Bay Nedbank Ultra marathon is rising and this year’s race is set to attract a top field of elite runners from across the globe.

The 50 km race has been awarded elite label status by world athletics and all eyes are now focused on the March 6, 2022 race day.

Ntombesintu Mfunzi and Kelly van Vliet are preparing to toe the starting line of what is now a prestige race in their hometown.

In 2021 Van Vliet finished in the top ten last year, while Mfunzi set her eye on a record time. They are now testing their mettle against the best ultra runners in the world.

Mfunzi says, “I am excited about the race because this year it was announced that they would also give recognition for age categories and I just turned 40. I am looking forward to it. Maybe this is my chance to set a 40 plus record. It will depend on how I feel that day.”

Van Vliet says, “Training has been going well, I had a couple of setbacks but I am trying to add more mileage. Let’s just see if we have a bit of hometown advantage, we know the road, we pray that the wind plays along.”

Participation in the race is on invitation only due to the pandemic.

Race Director Nick Bester says, “This year, we have a lot of other athletes across the globe to come and run in South Africa. Last year we had COVID-19 but protocols were a little bit stricter but this year they are relaxed and we expect more international road runners, we know they will rock up, we expect more.”

The elevated status of the race is great news for the local hospitality industry. The race is also part of the City’s sports tourism strategy.

MMC for Sport, Arts and Culture Bassie Kamana says, “Last year it was a trial event, now we have signed a contract or we are committing ourselves from now until 2024. It’s a three-year thing because it brings back all memories, one becomes nostalgic, and world records are broken here.”

The new status of the race also bumped up the prize money pot to R920 000. The male and female winner will each pocket R130 000 and there is a R150 000 bonus for breaking the world 50 km record for the men and women.

4 days ago