Sani Stagger set to test all runners in 2016

Photo - Anthony Grote / Gameplan Media

With an almost fully subscribed field for the full marathon along with a sold-out half marathon the 2016 Sani Stagger Marathon has attracted runners from all over the country as they prepare to take on the iconic Sani Pass on Saturday, 26 November.

The race will see the runners of the full marathon start at the Sani Pass Hotel and make their way 21km to the top of Sani Pass and back down in what could be described as one of the toughest marathons in the country.

Event organiser Spurgeon Flemington has been satisfied by the take up of entries in his first year involved in the race and explains that the one-of-a-kind race is always going to attract runners as it offers them something completely different.

“I think just the fact that the Sani Stagger is one of the most hardcore marathons in the country is appealing enough for a majority of the runners,” Flemington said.

“Just to get to the top must be an incredible feeling and taking in the views really adds to the appeal of the event so I can understand why we have had so many entries.

“The half marathon sells out in about half an hour and at the moment we have around 350 marathon entries and we are going to cap it at 400 with entries closing on Friday, 4 November.”

Not having to run up Sani Pass first before coming down might add to the charm of the half marathon as runners are shuttled up to the top before their 21km adventure down to the Sani Pass Hotel.

“The half marathon definitely touches some button in the runners. I am not sure whether it is the trip up and the chance to take in the beautiful views and scenery while you wait for your start or just bombing down the hill!

“It is such a distinctive event and despite it being one of the most difficult races around runners continue to return and we hope that we can make the race as efficient as possible for the competitors,” a resolute Flemington added.

Although the Comrades Marathon is just less than seven months from the Sani Stagger the race is used by some as a qualifier for 2017 ultra-marathon from Durban to Pietermaritzburg, and Flemington believes it is one of the most difficult qualifying races to do.

“I think if runners are looking for batch times in their qualifier then they will not use the Stagger as their qualifier however it is definitely a cool way to qualify, if you ask me!

“It is easy to say that you have qualified for the hardest ultra-marathon via the hardest marathon,” he quipped.

The race does not come without its own logistical challenges considering the remote location of the start of the half marathon and the halfway stage of the full marathon. Despite this Flemington and his team understand the difficulties that they are going to face and have planned accordingly.

“Ferrying all of the runners in the half marathon to the top of Sani Pass for their race start is going to be a huge task in itself but we have made sure that we are prepared for that as well as potential weather problems we might encounter.

“There are ten water tables on the route and getting the gear to these tables is another challenge for us.

“We want to create a little hub at the top of the pass as it is a huge focal point for the runners with it being the start of the half marathon and the halfway mark in the full marathon.

“It is going to be a challenge getting everything ready but we are sure that we, as well as the weather, are going to be ready!” he laughed.

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