Eldridge will be Sole of party

The increasingly popular Caltex Sole Destroyer takes centre-stage on Sunday September 17 as the 25th edition of the race is battled out in East London.

ALL DRESSED UP: From left, Noxolo Sojolo (Overtakers Athletic Club), Lwandlekazi Nkontso (Overtakers Athletic Club), Roxanne Lands and Gerald Berlyn (Air Conditioning Services, a previous sponsor of the race) with various Sole Destroyer shirts. Lands wears this year’s 25th year T-shirt

In just three years, the race has grown from 383 finishers in 2014, to 702 last year, and this year is expected to be even bigger, with Caltex having sponsored T-shirts for the first 1000 entries in the 21km and the first 300 in the 9km race.

Official race ambassador and top South African marathon-runner, Lusapho April, is a big fan of the race, but will unfortunately miss this year’s event due to illness. However, he will still be on hand to motivate runners at the pre-race time-trial and at the start and finish on the day.

“I’ve been a member of Oxford Striders from 2007 and it’s always a pleasure to support their races,” said April.

“Caltex as the sponsor of the Sole Destroyer is very important to our club and this race, and without them it wouldn’t be possible to stage such a great race.”

One of the legends of the Sole Destroyer and regular East London long-distance runner, Sharon Eldridge, has completed every Sole Destroyer race to date and will once again be on the start line on Sunday to take part in her 25th race.

“The Sole Destroyer has a very challenging route, but runners aren’t sissies and we need these challenging routes to fit into our training programmes,” said Eldridge.

“It is one of my favourite races. It is not just the toughness of the route, but it is also very scenic and the atmosphere at the start and finish is just fantastic.

“The running community in East London is a close-knit one. We are growing in size and we are all friends and enjoy running these type of races together, so we are all looking forward to it.”

At the media launch last week, Oxford Striders chairman Dillon Pretorius had some advice for runners taking on this year’s main race.

“At 12.5km athletes are confronted with a leg jarring descent followed by a relatively flat and fast section through East London’s suburbs until, at 18.5km, they reach the final sting in the tail, the climb up Willasdale Drive,” said Pretorius, who went on to thank the naming sponsor for being involved in the event for the past 11 years, contributing to its growth from a small race to “a premier event, and an annual highlight on the East London running calendar”.

Pretorious added the Caltex sponsorship had enabled the organisers to invest in a top-quality timing system that will improve the timing of races and contribute to running in the Border region, with the 2017 Caltex Sole Destroyer the first race in the area to be timed with the new system.

Entries for this weekend’s race officially closed yesterday.

The main 21km run starts from Smithfield Street in Cambridge at 6.30am on Sunday, ending at Oxford Striders, while the 9km Sole Teaser starts and finishes at Oxford Striders, with a 7am start