The racers waiting at the start line at Old Benonians Sports Club.
The annual Johnson Crane Hire (JCH) marathon, hosted by Benoni Harriers Athletics Club, celebrated its 30th anniversary in January with a record number of 7 790 runners taking part this year. The event represents one of the longest-standing unbroken sponsorships of a road race in South Africa.
The race comprises a 42,2 km half marathon, as well as 21,1 km; 10,5 km and 5,0 km run, and a 1,0 km run/walk for younger enthusiasts, which made for a fun-filled and healthy family day. A carnival atmosphere was created by the presence of many different food vendors, a children's play area with free giant inflatable rides and face painters.
The race, a qualifier for the Comrades and Two Oceans marathons, started from the Old Benonians Sports Club and wound through Rynfield and Northmead, before entering a flat section towards High Road. A downhill stretch led to the 15 km mark where the half marathon runners split from the rest to enter a challenging and lengthy climb to the 19 km mark. From here, the run home to Old Ben's was a pleasant downhill stretch with some great scenery that added appeal to the race. JCH also created some real interest with a display of some of the largest cranes in southern Africa along the route.
Many of South Africa's top long-distance runners took part in the event, including Sonia Laxton, Zola Budd, Frith van der Merwe, Elias Mabane, Elija Mogoboya and Wesley Mutai.
"The 2012 event was one of the most memorable to date," JCH executive director, Lalith Senarathne says. "The continued support from JCH staff is really fantastic, with our different branches competing for a floating trophy. Our personnel manned a water point, assisted at the children's play area, and generally ensured that all participants enjoyed a wonderful morning together."
A percentage of the proceeds from the race will be donated to Ithemba Rape and Trauma Support Centre and JCH awarded a bursary to a promising runner from Benoni Harriers.